Australian-made products strengthen industry safety

Diacon has developed a new facility in Queensland to meet growing demand for its products.

Diacon Australia is expanding its Australian presence with a new purpose-built facility which offers more access to its locally-made conveyor guarding and dust control solutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the ability of mining companies to efficiently source products from international manufacturers due to supply chain constraints. 

This environment has put pressure on the industry’s safety performance as companies wait to receive products vital to their operations.

At the same time, Australian-based companies that manufacture and supply these products are thriving.

Diacon Australia offers dust suppression systems and plastic conveyor guards that are made locally in Queensland.

The company first delivered its innovative plastic conveyor guards to the Australian market in 1988 and has since become a market leader as a supplier of the unique product. 

Unlike traditional steel guarding solutions, the plastic conveyor guards are a lightweight and easy-to-install alternative, which also offer a longer lifespan.

“We look after the industry through the supply of our guarding solutions for conveyors. We also provide spillage control and dust control with our systems as well,” Diacon general manager Matt Kennett tells Safe to Work. 

All mineral processing operations require some form of conveyor system, and conveyor guarding is essential to ensure there is no spillage on site.

Diacon’s conveyor guards are made with a plastic mesh to ensure they are lightweight to prevent injury from any accidental drops that could fall on workers below.

The plastic also prevents corrosion issues with a guaranteed 15-year lifespan compared with the average five-year lifespan of steel alternatives. 

“The biggest safety benefit of the plastic guarding is the manual handling,” Kennett says.

“Being a lightweight guard makes it literally a one-person operation; we have also designed it to hang on the railing to avoid an issue with otherwise storing bulky steel guards.

“The lifecycle of the guard is a lot longer than a steel guard, so you avoid the issue of regular changeouts. A lot of manpower is required to change the guarding out, so it prevents any risks involved with frequent maintenance.”

Diacon’s conveyor guards are made with a plastic mesh which makes them lightweight and easy to handle.

In addition to the conveyor guards, Diacon offers the Hungry Board and its plastic safety panel for materials handling operations.

Like the conveyor guard, the safety panel is made from lightweight plastic to ensure easy and safe installation.

The Hungry Board is an aluminium-reinforced plastic panel that helps keep products within conveyor belts to reduce spillage and prevent dust. 

This reduces the accumulation of dust across a mine site, which helps prevent any lung-related issues with workers or environmental concerns.

“Dust control keeps a safer environment by stopping it from flowing over everything,” Kennett says. “If you can reduce the spillage there’s less of a need for clean-up and it prevents any long-term issues for mine sites.”

Dust control is not only important for mine workers, but it also helps the surrounding environment and allows companies to meet their regulatory requirements to operate.

Diacon’s products are offered as bespoke solutions, meaning the company can develop a fit-for-purpose solution depending on the design of a mine site.

This includes the company’s custom dust collector hood designs, which have been used in iron ore, bauxite and coal mines

“We can work with any type of conveyor at a mine site to come up with a bespoke solution,” Kennett says.

“That’s what is different about us compared with other manufacturers – we’ve got the ability to deliver custom solutions that have short lead times.”

Diacon plans to continue growing following the launch of a new workshop, with a focus on expansion in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

Prior to COVID-19, the company was also building an international presence with exports to England, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea. This remains another ambition of the company once international restrictions ease.

For Kennett, the prospect of delivering an Australian-made product during the pandemic has shown the strength of the local business.

“I think supporting local industry is a massive thing at the moment. We’re not going anywhere; we’re here to support the mining, sugar and port industries with whatever they need,” Kennett says.

“COVID-19 has proven that there’s companies in Australia here for the long haul that are committed to supporting the local mining industry.”

Diacon services the market across Australia through its distributor, Consolidated Engineering Plastics Products.

The distributor and Diacon brand were both established, and are still today managed, by Brendan Refalo.

“Essentially, Consolidated Engineering is a reselling and customer liaison for Diacon’s products,” Kennett says.

“Consolidated Engineering works alongside Diacon by supporting the design and local manufacturing of its products.”

To boost industry presence and serviceability, Consolidated Engineering and Diacon have commissioned a large, purpose-built facility in Queensland.

As demand grows for Diacon’s products, a larger warehouse was required to ensure it can service a booming resources industry, along with the sugar and port industries.

“We built this facility as we outgrew the other four buildings that we were previously in,” Kennett says. 

“The whole idea behind building a single purpose-built workshop is to get everyone under one roof and to have enough room to continue meeting our customer demand.”

Based in Mackay, the workshop is close to the heart of Queensland’s mining industry in the Bowen Basin. 

This mining region contains the largest coal reserves in Australia, which are in demand from export markets across the globe. 

Kennett says sourcing local conveyor guards offers shorter lead times in regions such as the Bowen Basin compared with importing an international product.

“It just proves that you don’t have to go overseas to get products when its right on your doorstep,” Kennett says.

“When buying local the reduction of lead times compared with going to an overseas manufacturer is significant. It’s also easier to assess the products in person before buying, by having a local facility rather than organising a trip overseas. 

“It just highlights the strength of Australian manufacturing and what we can come up with in our own backyard.” 

This story also appears in the September issue of Safe to Work.

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