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Innovative rollers from Horizon

Aluminium conveyor roller

New aluminium conveyor rollers offer a strong option at around half the weight of steel counterparts

INNOVATIVE aluminium conveyor rollers designed and built by Horizon Conveyor Equipment are offering light relief to site operators in their efforts to tackle health and safety risks and cut maintenance downtime.

Horizon have constructed their heavy-duty aluminium rollers to offer robust strength but at nearly half the weight of their standard steel counterparts, making them an increasingly appealing alternative at a wide range of sites.

Development work on the rollers began in response to industry concerns about the health and safety risks of using standard heavy steel trough and return rollers, which often weigh up to 90kg. Excessive weight means that steel rollers generally need extra manpower to carry, install and maintain, and conveyors often require prolonged periods of downtime while that work is carried out.

According to Alan Bowler, managing director of Horizon Conveyor Equipment, the aluminium rollers retain the durability of their steel counterparts but boast the weight advantages, noise reduction and energy-saving features that have made plastic rollers popular. Importantly, their high strength also makes them a good option for use on wide belts and in high-impact locations.

‘Our aluminium roller has all the weight and handling advantages of our HDPE plastic rollers but with the added advantage of extra strength, especially for long return rollers,’ he said. ‘This is absolutely critical for operators who face real health and safety issues when attempting to replace failed steel rollers, particularly in enclosed or hard-to-access locations.’

Designed using 6mm thick aluminium tube, the rollers contain a steel shaft and sealed bearings, with the bearing housings manufactured from electrically-conductive glass-reinforced nylon. A large stationary integral stone guard forms the outer primary labyrinth seal to prevent any spillage building up between the roller and the frame, which can jam the roller, while dust, debris and smaller contaminants are kept out by a greased inner cupped lip seal together with a sealed bearing.

Over the past three years the rollers have been extensively tested at sites such as E-ON’s Kingsnorth Power Station and RWE’s Tilbury Power Station, both of which were looking for lighter weight and improved reliability.

According to Clive Burfoot, materials handling engineer for E-ON at Kingsnorth Power Station, the weight of the rollers has been a major benefit on site. ‘We have tested Horizon Conveyors’ aluminium rollers for more than three years and have been very pleased with their performance,’ he commented. ‘We decided to install them into a position of high tension, close to the pulley tail, to accelerate the tests and they have performed very well.’

Ron Pannell, lead maintenance engineer at RWE Tilbury Power Station, agreed that the weight of the rollers was an advantage. ‘They’re at least half the weight of steel which helps when you’re carrying rollers up gantries and fitting them in awkward and difficult areas on the conveyors,’ he said.

For Horizon, the introduction of their aluminium roller range marks the latest development in nearly 30 years of research and design innovation. ‘We originally conceived the design for the aluminium roller with health and safety in mind,’ said Mr Bowler. ‘With tighter regulations and more consideration to the manpower and downtime needed to change failed steel rollers, there is certainly a need for a lightweight alternative.’

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