A specialist in conveyor belt skirting and transfer point technology has taken its expertise to the world stage with a revolutionary package of products.
Kinder Australia had previously kept to its corner and made a name for itself in what it knew best: bulk handling solid materials for Australia’s heavy process industries.
Since 1985, the family-owned operation has displayed a can-do attitude to deliver Australian ore, quarried products, grain, sugar, salt and coal from A to B.
But when Kinder operations manager Charles Pratt came across German company ScrapeTec and was acquainted with a product called the AirScrape, things took a slightly new direction.
Pratt has worked with Kinder since 2004 and watched conveyor technology evolve in many ways over that time, but across his tenure, he’s seen nothing more game-changing than the AirScrape.
As operations manager, Pratt oversees the sales, engineering and warehousing departments at Kinder which often involves the research and procurement of new business relationships and products.
“During COVID, the interesting part about my role has been looking after the sales side of the international market,” Pratt told Quarry.
“So, because I couldn’t travel, I’ve been searching the globe online for specific products to complement our range and I became aware of this AirScrape product.”
AirScrape is a non-contact, dustless, material containment skirting and sealing system designed to hover 1mm from the surface of the conveyor belt.
The design creates a contactless air seal to ensure dust is kept inside the conveyor section, while also minimising material spillage.
Pratt said such a design baffled some of the most experienced in the bulk handling industries.
“It’s a bit like walking into a car dealership and the salesman shows you a car without any wheels,” Pratt said.
“For decades, conveyor transfer points have relied on a rubber or polyurethane soft skirting system to make contact with the conveyor, whereas this AirScrape product is radical because it doesn’t.
“This creates its own challenges because when you first introduce it to people, they struggle to get their head around it and that was my reaction at first too. I thought, ‘this is amazing if it works but how can it?’”
Not only has Kinder adopted the AirScrape and begun distributing it throughout Australia, it has also secured a reciprocal trading agreement with ScrapeTec.
This agreement saw Kinder work with ScrapeTec to further improve the performance of AirScrape in response to customer feedback.
“The AirScrape works best with a consistent 1mm air gap underneath it and to do that, customers will need an impact bed or one of our K-Sure belt support products,” Pratt said.
“When we received the base product from ScrapeTec, they didn’t have that adequate belt support so Kinder turned around and supplied it to them.”
“This has expanded our global network by connecting us with their distributors and we’ve gained some customers we wouldn’t otherwise have throughout the world.”
The combination of ScrapeTec and Kinder has resulted in four complementary products which all work best when installed together – the AirScrape, TailScrape, K-Containment Seal and the K-Sure Belt Support System.
To understand and assess an operation’s need for these products, Kinder has field application specialists and engineers who can travel to site and make recommendations.
“You never find yourself just proposing the one product in the range, there’s usually a few products that a customer will benefit most from,” Pratt said.
And once installed, the results bear repeating.
“It should theoretically last for the life of the conveyor because there’s no contact with the belt and it’s only containing dust,” Pratt said.
“This presents cost savings in not having to perform maintenance on the skirting, and not having to order it, deliver it or stock it.
“There are so many costs that are reduced throughout the supply chain when you don’t have to replace something anymore. It’s not just the cost of the product, it’s all the other bits and pieces.”
Even Pratt, the Kinder veteran, said he had never seen anything like the AirScrape and may not again for some time.
“This is the most radically different thing I’ve seen in my time. We’ve been producing some pretty creative products at Kinder but this one is a game-changer,” he concluded. •
For more information about the AirScrape and other Kinder products, visit kinder.com.au
This article appears in the February issue of Quarry Magazine.