Derbyshire-based DSF Refractories & Minerals (DSF) is the largest shaped refractory manufacturer in the UK, producing heat-resistant materials for extreme-temperature applications, including the lining of glass furnaces and petrochemical reactors, exporting more than 80% of their refractory shapes. The company is a major importer of minerals and other raw materials, which it processes on-site for its own production requirements, as well as supplying other refractory manufacturers.
For over 10 years, DSF had used a counterbalanced machine to load and unload large refractory blocks from its kilns. As it reached the end of its service life, increasingly frequent issues were causing production downtime and costly repairs. Additionally, the machine’s stabilising attachment often damaged the refractory blocks and loads were sometimes unstable during movement. As this was an older machine that did not have power steering, this caused operator fatigue, which was highlighted by DSF as a possible risk of injury to the company’s staff.
Following an introduction to DSF by Endeavour Forklifts, Roburtrucks was appointed to design and build a bespoke handling solution, which would be fully fit for purpose in a hazardous manufacturing environment.
Following a customer consultation with DSF, Roburtrucks began the design phase for a machine that would deliver the following materials handling and health and safety objectives:
- Incorporate power steering
- Grab refractory blocks safely and securely
- Ensure load stability when moving across uneven floors
- Be comfortable for operator use
- High reliability for continuous operation
Roburtrucks designed and manufactured a highly compact counterbalanced Stacker, featuring a unique securing clamp. The machine provides a lifting capacity of 1000kg (or 800kg with the removable clamp) and delivers two operational uses. As well its bespoke functionality, the removal of the clamp enables the machine to be utilised as a conventional counterbalanced Stacker for other purposes in the factory.
In order to prevent damage to the refractory blocks, the lifting clamps designed and engineered by Roburtrucks were coated with Secutex multi-functional geotextile, which allows some leniency in the material to ensure secure grabbing characteristics.
The new machine delivered by Roburtrucks was quickly proven to increase productivity for DSF through the secure handling of refractory blocks weighing up to 600kg. Able to operate safely and efficiently across uneven floors in a challenging environment, the bespoke solution addressed all previous health and safety concerns. Equally, the reliability of the new machine has proven significant with no downtime incurred to date.
Russell Ferns, Health and Safety Officer, DSF Refractories & Minerals, commented: “From the introduction to Roburtrucks by Endeavour Forklifts through the design and build process, delivery and driver familiarisation, the service we have received was second to none. Nothing was too much trouble for the Roburtrucks team and this was a challenging project.
“We had experienced a number of failed attempts to get the right piece of kit for the specific purpose we needed but Roburtrucks delivered on its promise that the truck would meet all the desired objectives. Our long-term relationship with Mark Bann from Endeavour Forklifts meant that we weacre able to trust his judgment when recommending Roburtrucks to our company, which proved to be an excellent partnership.”