Buronga Hill Winery in Mildura, Victoria, processes approximately 90,000 tonnes of grapes annually, much of it during the busy three-month harvest season, when the plant operates almost 24/7. The plant has four crushers to process grapes; twigs, leaves, and stalks that arrive with the grapes are separated before crushing, and are conveyed out via a stalk elevator.
The large stalk elevator that services crushers three and four—which together account for approximately 50% of the grapes crushed—was outfitted with a plastic belt. Unsatisfied with the performance of this belt, Buronga Hill wanted an upgrade. The existing plastic belt had a life of only 1.5 years; more crucially, the belt experienced major crashes about once a year. Each crash led to six hours of unscheduled downtime, during which the belt had to be manually repaired. On occasion, crashes required the plant to rent a crane in order to continue stalk and twig waste removal during belt repair. Concerned about losing more valuable hours during the next short harvest season, Buronga Hill began to consider alternative solutions.
After studying the stalk elevator and its associated challenges, Intralox recommended that Buronga Hill upgrade to its modular plastic belting (MPB). Intralox® MPB is assembled in an interlocked, bricklayed pattern with full-length hinge rods—an inherently strong design. Once Buronga Hill visited a nearby winery who had a similar application outfitted with Intralox belting, it was convinced that Intralox offered the best solution.
Intralox continuously worked with Buronga Hill to understand the winery’s challenges and apply that knowledge by providing the most effective belt solution: Series 800 Nub Top belting with flights. The Intralox Nub Top surface secures product throughout the incline, reducing spillage and waste. In addition to the belt recommendation, Intralox also proposed wearstrip, sprocket, transition, and other conveyor modifications to optimize belt life and performance while minimizing the chances of unplanned downtime.
Since upgrading the large stalk elevator to the Intralox S800 Nub Top belt with flights in 2008, it has experienced zero belt-related unscheduled downtime. Thus, no cranes have had to be hired to keep stalk and twig waste moving out of the plant. Belt and component life have doubled compared to the previous belt. The elevator now consistently transports waste out of the pit area with virtually 100% reliability, and spillage has been minimized. These benefits have resulted in potential savings of over six figures (AUD) based on estimates of lost production, resulting in payback of less than one vintage period.
Based on the Intralox Nub Top belt’s performance on this stalk elevator, Buronga Hill upgraded the elevator on crusher two to the same solution. The plant intends to repeat this installation for any new elevators in the future.