Throughout this year, how many times has your company talked about sustainability? Undoubtedly, it is a frequently discussed topic, as the climate crisis is a reality that needs to be urgently combated.

Many strategies can be used to make a company more sustainable. However, one approach that might be overlooked is renewable energy on conveyors.

Conveyors are essential tools in the logistics sector, enabling the movement of goods and products. Precisely because they are so essential, they should indeed be placed at the centre of the debate on sustainability.

Imagine a warehouse using a belt conveyor to transport goods and products between different departments. This hypothetical machine consumes, on average, 50 kW per hour. If the company operates every day in two 8-hour shifts, then the daily consumption of the conveyor is 800 kW per day (50 kWh*16h). In a month (30 days), the consumption is, therefore, 24,000 kWh.

Considering that the carbon footprint of 1 kWh is 260 grams of CO2, the conveyor of this company emits over 6,000 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide per month. Thus, if the company switched to 100% renewable energy, it could reduce its carbon footprint by about 74.88 metric tonnes of CO2 annually. For comparison, removing this volume of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere would require 1,300 trees.

Now, let's explore how you can achieve this result.


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embracing solar energy for conveyor operations

Companies seeking to become more environmentally friendly have many alternatives in the market. Some of the most important renewable energies include wind and hydroelectric power, but solar energy stands out significantly.

To produce energy using sunlight, all that is required is a series of solar panels placed on the roofs of factories, warehouses, offices, or even in open fields near where conveyors are used. However, before installing the panels, it is necessary to analyse the project's viability by determining if the region receives enough sunlight and if the intended number of panels can meet the entire demand.

Solar panels generate direct current (DC), which needs to be converted into alternating current (AC) to power conventional conveyor systems. This conversion is done by inverters. These devices can also adjust the voltage level to suit the requirements of the electrical grid or the machines being powered.

In the summer, solar energy generation may exceed usage. Therefore, the electrical system should have batteries capable of storing surplus electricity. This will allow the system to continue supplying power to the equipment even at night, potentially making solar power a 24/7 energy source. Moreover, you must use management systems to optimise the setup. These systems are responsible for identifying the available solar electricity and, if necessary, switching the power source to the battery or the traditional electrical grid.

It's imperative to highlight that your conveyors might need modifications to be compatible with the variable power supply of solar panels, especially in systems without battery storage.

eco-friendly solutions for conveyors

Renewable energy is an excellent sustainable solution, but you can take it further. Here are some interesting strategies.

  1. Energy-efficient motors: Implementing high-efficiency motors and drives can significantly decrease energy consumption.
  2. Regenerative drives: They recover energy during the conveyor's braking process, which can be reused or fed back into the power grid.
  3. Optimised design: Choose conveyors made with lightweight materials and designed to reduce friction. This will result in lower consumption.
  4. Automated control systems: Smart control systems can enhance the conveyor's operation, reducing energy waste by adjusting speeds according to the load or shutting down when not in use.
  5. Recycled or sustainable materials: Using recycled components for conveyor belts and components, or sourcing materials from sustainable practices, can reduce environmental impact.
  6. Proper maintenance: Regular conveyor maintenance ensures efficient operation, preventing energy wastage due to wear and tear or misalignment.
  7. Waste reduction and recycling: Implement practices to reduce waste in conveyor operations and recycle components at the end of their life cycle.
  8. Green certification: Seeking eco-certification can help ensure that the entire lifecycle of the conveyor is environmentally friendly, from manufacturing to disposal.
  9. Employee training and engagement: Educating employees on sustainable practices and encouraging energy-saving habits can enhance the overall environmental performance of conveyor operations.
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what are the benefits and disadvantages of these solutions?

The most significant benefits are linked to the impacts on the planet. Using renewable energies reduces greenhouse gas emissions and decreases the industry's dependence on fossil fuels.

In addition, there are economic impacts. Despite requiring a high initial investment, renewable energy lowers operation costs over time, as sunlight and wind are freely available and abundant. In some regions, companies can also take advantage of tax benefits provided by local governments.

The impact on the company's image cannot be underestimated. Businesses adopting a sustainable and green approach benefit from a better public image, which translates into more sales and investments.

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are there any downsides?

Yes, as with any other investment. The cost of installing these renewable systems is relatively high and might even be unfeasible for some companies. Moreover, in developed countries, the electricity from the traditional electrical system is relatively stable, while solar energy can fluctuate throughout the day and even between seasons. Another factor that cannot be ignored is the need for adaptations in the machinery.

However, it must be acknowledged that thanks to technological advancements, incorporating renewable energy sources is an irreversible path. Governments and industries are set to continue investing in environmentally friendly technologies, paving the way for a better future.

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about Joloda Conveyor Services

We are a unique service provider, focused 100% on repairs, maintenance and refurbishment of conveyor systems. Our team of conveyor carers are experts because they are not distracted by lots of additional bolt-on services; when your equipment needs attention, we’ll carry out conveyor troubleshooting and fix the problem to get you back operational as quickly as possible.

Learn more About Us and how we can help to keep your, and the UK's conveyors rolling, by preventing and fixing common conveyor belt problems.

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