Portsmouth recycling business recovers from fire damage with refurbished Baler

Fast response from Middleton Engineering aids recovery for GHS Recycling. A refurbished closed-end semi-automatic baler, supplied at short notice and installed in a day by waste recycling machinery specialist Middleton Engineering, has helped put Portsmouth based GHS Recycling back on its feet following a disastrous fire.

The fire which struck in September 2016, destroying a £70,000 baling machine and a storage area for processed waste, almost spelt the end for the 30 year old family firm. But five months on the business is stronger and tonnage is up thanks in part to the new machine and support from loyal customers.

For hands on general manager Rachael Harris and her brother James Harris, who operate the business started by their father, the fire was a sobering experience. Managing waste volumes of 100 tonnes a week, the company helps customers divert waste from landfill, collecting and processing a range of materials including confidential waste, paper, card and plastics from businesses of all sizes. Services extend from Hastings in the East to Bournemouth in the West and up to the M25 with collections further afield as required.

Replacing the lost baler was an immediate concern if the business was to continue functioning. This would need to interface with an existing conveyor which fortunately had been salvaged from the fire with some cosmetic damage and blistered paint, since repainted by Rachael and the team.

At the same time it was an opportunity to source a machine that would deliver the bale weights and dimensions necessary to optimise artic loads - a major cost for the industry - something that the earlier machine had failed to do.

Rachael Harris explains: “We needed a quick solution. It would have to be a stop gap and unfortunately new wasn’t an option, but it was also an opportunity to source a machine that would allow us to achieve maximum weight for the bales we were producing and improve throughput. Following recommendations and a site visit to assess our needs, Middleton Engineering clearly fitted the bill. And we were impressed by the attention to detail and their support and spares capability, clearly evident when we toured the factory.”

Installed rapidly, just a few weeks following the fire, the refurbished baler is an ME 80 semi-automatic baler capable of delivering consistent mill size bales with a press force of 80 tonnes. The high pressure obtained enables compact bales to be achieved reducing transportation costs, at the same time working well with all waste streams.

A key challenge for Middleton Engineering was integrating the machine with the existing conveyor which needed to be repositioned in a space that was still being cleaned up after the fire. Rachael Harris confirmed: “Middletons responded rapidly and got on with job efficiently, going the extra mile to reposition and integrate the existing conveyor.” 

The experience has made us more resilient,” says Rachael Harris.  “Customers have been extremely loyal and with the new machine we are now achieving maximum tonnage in terms of bale size and weight. Before this we were sending out artics only partially filled and down on weight, but now we are more competitive which in turn means we can deliver improved rebates to our customers too”.

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