Pushing Efficiency for Sanitaryware Production to New Levels
An electric tug with a custom kiln car attachment helped facilitate a kiln replacement for sink manufacturer Shaws of Darwen.
Headquartered in Darwen, Lancashire, England, sink manufacturer Shaws of Darwen was faced with a challenge when replacing an old kiln: the existing dolly system was beyond economic repair, and the time implications of refurbishing it would hinder the expected commissioning date for the new kiln. “The cost to repair the old kiln car rail moving system was not economical, and to operate the kiln without this process was an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of the Shaws workforce,” said Mark Duckworth, the company’s maintenance manager. “I embarked on a search to find an alternative solution, and that’s where Nu-Star came in—recommended by one of our current suppliers.”
Duckworth contacted Nu-Star Material Handling Ltd., and the companies worked together to create a custom attachment for Nu-Star’s Power Pusher electric-powered tug mover. The Power Pusher can reportedly safely and efficiently both push and pull large, heavy loads, often taking the job of multiple members of the workforce. The Power Pusher is pedestrian-operated, is not subject to Lifting Operations Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER), and requires no license to operate. Therefore, all staff can be trained to operate the electric tug. In addition, the Power Pusher is electric-powered, making it an environmentally friendly option for use indoors with no fumes and very little noise.
The development of an adjustable hook attachment for Shaws’ kiln cars enables the company’s personnel to hook the Power Pusher to the kiln car and maneuver it into the kiln. Shaws has multiple kilns requiring different kiln car heights across its factory in Lancashire, so the electric mover solution needed to work for each kiln. To accommodate these needs, Nu-Star created a box slider system that enables the height to be easily adjusted so the Power Pusher can be used throughout the factory.
“We have a growing number of customers worldwide in the ceramics and brick industries, utilizing our electric tugs for moving kiln cars into and out of their kilns,” said Matt Smith, Nu-Star’s managing director. “The progressive throttle on the Power Pusher means the operator can move the laden kiln car at a speed that prevents any accidental, vibration-induced damage to the product, particularly before it is fired. We are delighted to have worked with Shaws of Darwen on this aspect of their expansion project.”