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Pulling in Performance Pulleys

Published in Australian Bulk Handling Review

Fenner Conveyors started the year by unveiling a new conveyor pulley and engineering facility, just down the road from its existing Wollongong premises.

Replacing a pulley can be an expensive and time-consuming exercise. It requires stopping the conveyor, slacking the belt to remove the pulley, and re-tensioning and checking the belt is operational and tracking correctly. All of that usually entails a minimum of one day of downtime, which can be a significant cost in the mining and industrial space.

The benefits from pulley manufacturing and pulley refurbishment being performed in a controlled environment are widely recognised within the industry. It reduces the risk of containments impacting pulleys while the dedicated maintenance helps expand their lifecycle.

These factors give the best opportunity to create high-quality, well-engineered pulleys that customers can trust for reliability and productivity.

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Inside the new facility.

Demand for Fenner Conveyors’ pulley manufacturing and refurbishing was high. Fenner Conveyors pulley refurbishment coordinator for Wollongong, Thomas O’Rourke, explained how this demand prompted the strategic investment in manufacturing facilities in the Illawarra region.

“Prior to the new facility, we had set up in the back corner of our existing Wollongong service centre.

O’Rourke and his team quickly outgrew this spot as the company waited to unveil the new pulley facility, which was opened in January of this year. He said a key benefit of the new centre is that Fenner Conveyors have increased capacity to meet customer demands.

“We found with most of our customers that their biggest requirement was quick lead times and turnarounds,” he said. “It was a key component of the work we started doing; we could turn a pulley around in a week, and we have done it in a day for customers who have had a failure on-site.

“Being able to enter the quick response market has been a no-brainer for us.”

The new facility also includes supply for CPS' conveyor rollers for the Illawarra region. 

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Fenner Conveyors’ Wollongong branch manager, Cameron Clark, said there was an opportunity to bring an enhanced level of conveyor service to the Illawarra region. 

The 2,200sqm facility, located in Port Kembla only 300m away from Fenner Conveyors’ original service location, is the business’ newest addition following the opening of a state-of-the-art pulley facility in Mackay recently to great success. Fenner Conveyors and ACE moved into the 21,500 sqm Mackay hub in 2022 to bring shared capabilities under one roof.

“From a lot of customer feedback, we found that there wasn’t much competition around for pulleys in the Illawarra region,” Clark said.

“Based on Mackay’s success, they were in a similar situation a few years ago when they opened a pulley workshop. They were new and didn’t have much competition in the market.

“(We felt) we could replicate that success and that it was a really good opportunity.” 

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One of Fenner Conveyors’ main clients lies across the road from its Wollongong base - BlueScope Steel.

As one of the country’s biggest suppliers and manufacturers of steel, BlueScope’s conveyor and pulley set-up is significant. It has more than 500 conveyors with multiple pulleys that all take high-load.

BlueScope entrusts Fenner Conveyors’ highly-trained Wollongong team to deliver high-quality solutions to keep refurbishing its pulleys and supply new ones. Fenner Conveyors was recently contracted for more than 100 refurbishments and new pulleys altogether.

“As one of our biggest customers service-wise, it’s been invaluable for both parties being right next door to scope, discuss and deliver pulleys,” Clark said.

Yet, it is not just Fenner Conveyors’ Illawarra customers who benefit from the new Wollongong addition. The enhanced capabilities of the workshop will also bolster the company’s offering nationally. Clark said customers will benefit from the ability to work with a supplier across multiple conveyor product and services ranges.

“If it is supported by the same company, I think that is an advantage,” he said. “It is a benefit for the customer being able to go back to the one supplier for solutions throughout the life of a conveyor system.”

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Further to engineered pulleys and conveyor components, Fenner Conveyors’ newly established national service model enables customers to benefit from Fenner Conveyors’ nationwide labour resourcing.

“When different areas may need support, we’re able to share resources and support that capability nationally,” Clark said.

“It’s about having the right products, installed and maintained by the right people, to ensure the best operational outcomes for our customers.”

Fenner Conveyors is allowing customers to contact the Wollongong site to tour the new facilities and see how it could benefit their business. To arrange a visit, contact the Wollongong Team.