The BMHB and the industry.
The British Materials Handling Board was formed by the Government in 1979. A key objective was to act as a focus for the dissemination of knowledge and good practice in the materials handling industry. It became an independent, non-profit organisation in 1982. Through several face-to-face meetings with users, manufacturers and Universities, it identified various areas of activity that impaired industrial efficiency, health and safety at work and the implementation of developing technologies. By means of working parties, co-operative networks, research projects and technical publications, it has stimulated technical education and the application of state-of-art practices in materials handling.
One topic that stood out as an incoherent discipline and a major source of industrial problems was the handling of particulate solids.
Unless the material is in the right place, at the right time and condition it has little value. The impact on the ‘bottom line’ can be substantial!
Despite the maturity of the basic process and its influence in virtually all sectors of industry, this subject is highly challenging. The main reason why so many projects fail to produce design performance and incur costs well above initial estimates is that the behaviour of bulk material in the application does not follow its expected pattern. A host of interacting factors influence bulk solids behaviour. This can make performance predictions difficult. The fact that storage and handling do not add value to the product tends to obscure that these are essential functions that absorb significant capital and revenue costs in a production facility. Unless the material is in the right place, at the right time and condition it has little value. The impact on the ‘bottom line’ can be substantial, and even devastating, if not performed in an optimum manner.
Performance failures and shortfalls in plants that plants handle loose solids are frequently due to lack of due technical diligence relating to the behaviour of the bulk material, over-dependence upon contract conditions and the equipment suppliers ability and over-emphasis on the capital cost of the equipment. Details studies of efficiency in manufacturing industries in two Rand reports highlights that plants handling bulk materials generally over-run on commissioning and achieve lower performance than design rates far greater and more often than plants handling liquids and gasses. An I.Mech.E report also assessed the huge direct losses on waste and spillage in this sector of industry, apart from its effect on health, safety and the environment. These circumstances do not normally arise from fundamental weakness of engineering construction or chemical process design, but are almost invariably due to a failure to accommodate the nature and behaviour of the bulk material concerned. Of particular concern is that the position is slow to improve from plants built in the 1960’s.
For this reason much of the Board’s attention has been directed to research, education and publications in the field of Bulk Technology, seeing this as a prime source for improvements in industrial efficiency. The continued dissemination of technical information and best practice is seen by the BMHB as the most efficient and cost effective way to accelerate this progress, to make production in this sector of industry more predictable, reliable, and profitable. The Board has published books and guide documents on different aspects of solids handling and invites companies handling bulk materials to join a ‘User Group’ of industries that handle or process bulk materials, with the objective of identifying and advising on common problems that are experienced in the industry and co-ordinating collective activities, projects and research that serve a common interest. Members will receive discounts on BMHB Publications and have access to a series of technical advisory notes on many topics relating to solids handling.CONTACT US
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