Research & Innovation Services

Cost Reduction and Product Innovation 

KTA Partnership Development Award

Dept of Mechanical Engineering and Schenck Process UK Ltd (formerly Stock Redler Ltd)
Professor Glen Mullineux and Dr Andrew Hillis
Play the video Machine design of bulk handing machines

"Since the development of the original en masse concept by Redler, a great many competitors have arisen. We need to maintain a competitive edge. We can do this by having innovative designs and being cost effective. This project will enable us to do that.”
Joe Ellerton, Head of Mechanical Systems, Schenck Process UK Ltd.

“The company has a product that works well. The question was, ‘Could it be made into an even more reliable product, and with cost savings?’”
Professor Glen Mullineux, KTA Project Lead, Department of Mechanical Engineering

“Bath could offer us several things. Free-thinking people with considerable analytical expertise and capability, testing facilities, and a person with time dedicated to the project. All those aspects combined to make the project a very worthwhile venture for us."
Joe Ellerton, Head of Mechanical Systems, Schenck Process UK Ltd.

The challenge

The en masse chain conveyor for transporting bulk materials such as grain and coal has been in widespread use for many decades.  Schenck Process UK Ltd, the designer and manufacturer of the original system, is now in competition across the world with other suppliers who have modified the design.  Could the world-leading Redler system be made more cost-effective and with even greater reliability, to help the company maintain its competitive edge?

The response

A team in Bath’s Department of Mechanical Engineering worked with Schenck Process to consider options for modifying chain link and flight designs to reduce manufacturing, maintenance and replacement costs and pass on benefits to customers.  After testing the original components and improved design using computer modelling and then laboratory strength testing, a modified flight design and attachment system was devised.

Benefits and outcomes

  • The new system is likely to result in cost savings of at least 25%.
  • Being lighter, the new components will ultimately require less powerful motors for driving the conveyor.
  • As of early 2013, the new system is being trialled under normal operational conditions.
  • Once trials are complete, limited full-scale production is anticipated.
  • The new solution is also appropriate for modifying other sizes of chain link.

Project Team

Professor Glen Mullineux, Principal Investigator, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Dr Andrew Hillis, Co-Investigator, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Harry Chu, Knowledge Transfer Fellow, Deparment of Mechanical Engineering
Joe Ellerton, Head of Mechanical Systems, Schenck Process UK Ltd.