Muckit reaps the rewards of screening

Written by: Geraldine Faulkner | Published:

In Essex, haulage company Muckit is using a Powerscreen Chieftain 2100X mobile screener at its Barking Riverside Recycling Park site to produce high quality shingle from construction waste for discerning clients. Geraldine Faulkner reports

John Huke must be tired of hearing the old gag 'two stops short of Dagenham'. As founder and managing director of Muckit, a haulage company based at Barking Riverside Recycling Park in Essex, he has probably had to pretend to laugh at it on more than one occasion.

However, he does admit that the business's name was his idea.

"It was a joke when we first started, but then it caught on and as it is quite a catchy name – people remember it," he smiles.

Muckit includes three generations of the Huke family, who operate a fleet of 25 lorries for the transport of construction and demolition waste which is then taken to the Barking site for further processing.

"We turn as much of the construction and demolition waste as possible into recycled product and sell it back into the market," explains the MD.

Barking Riverside

It is no coincidence that Muckit is currently based on the park. Government-owned, Barking Riverside is a 443-acre site close to the town centre, the City of London, Canary Wharf and the Lower Lea Valley – and is one of the most significant new developments in the UK. Indeed, a brand new neighbourhood is being created alongside 2km of Thames river frontage at Barking Riverside, a mere 12 miles from central London.

In 2007, outline planning permission was granted for 10,800 homes on the former power station site and plans include healthcare facilities, schools, open space, public squares, 65,000 sq m of commercial floor space – including shopping, community and leisure facilities – and a railway station with links to central London. With companies such as Bellway Homes and Laing O'Rourke working on site, it is supplying a lot of work to specialists like Muckit.

Foundation Developments

Originally based at Harlow, Huke was offered an opportunity to recycle at Barking Riverside in conjunction with one of its clients, Foundation Developments – initially to recycle raw material and supply it back to the development.

"We used to run a skip hire and waste transfer station in Harlow, but I sold my site and business and moved to Barking. We kept the Muckit side of the business and have been here for four years and have a lease for another three," says Huke. He pauses before adding: "Mind you, these things tend to drag on, so we might be here for a bit longer."

The MD points to how the business
has built up its fleet of Euro 6-compliant haulage vehicles.

"We are looking to the future and have invested in a lot of new vehicles as well as updated others so that when the Euro 6 2020 deadline arrives, we will not have to rush out and invest in new vehicles like other operators will," predicts the entrepreneur confidently.

Bring in the Chieftain 2100X

Having an eye to the future also explains why Huke has invested £145,000 in a Powerscreen Chieftain 2100X mobile screener. Every couple of minutes, he glances out of the window of his office to where the machine works away among piles of shingle and unprocessed materials.

"We purchased the Powerscreen from the Blue Group in March," he recalls. "For the first four years in Barking we simply had a crusher and a box screen because we only made two to three products. We kept it simple and it served us well.

"However, the rates you get for the basic materials are very competitive so I decided to buy the Powerscreen Chieftain. It makes four extra products and, with the products we can make from the four-way split, it means the price we get for our products doubles."

Muckit now produces 10mm and 20mm shingle along with 6F1 and Type 1X sub-base.

"It gives us a wider range of products and more opportunity in the market," adds Huke before glancing outside again at the big blue machine rumbling away. Oliver Donnelly, product manager for Powerscreen, agrees that the Chieftain 2100X is ideal for the Muckit operation: "The mobile screen is designed for operators just like Muckit who require large volumes of high-specification product. High performance is achieved via its two-bearing 6.1m x 1.55m screenbox with adjustable amplitude and speed and hydraulic screen angle adjustment."

Run automatically by the operator in the loading shovel – who only has to press a button to switch it on and then load it all day – the Chieftain currently produces around 800-1,000 tonnes of product a day.

Paying dividends

Huke says: "It's a good machine and will pay for itself, although the drier the material you put in, the better. We have already noticed that the shingle produced on a dry day is of a much better quality than that produced in wet weather. If the materials are wet, the dirt sticks to the stone. Some people will still buy it but, as we're trying to make a good product, we want it to be the best.

"If the weather is not too good, we try to stockpile the material until it is drier and then we run it through the machine, otherwise fine material can get blocked up."

What about back-up? "We had an issue last week which turned out to be a faulty electrical relay," remembers the MD. "We rang Powerscreen at 4pm on a Wednesday afternoon and a Blue Group service engineer was on-site the following morning at 7am. When the engineer discovered which part needed replacing, it took him four hours to get a replacement and then he repaired it by the end of the day. I gave him 10 out of 10 for the effort he made to get us up and running as quickly as possible."

Muckit's clients have also been invited to come and view the latest addition to the site.

Huke again: "We have had several clients come out to look at the machine and a few wanted to come and see the shingle. In fact, they thought the shingle we had produced with the Chieftain had come through a washing plant, whereas it's just been dry-screened. I think it's all down to the good operators who are loading it.

"We don't force as much material through as possible, we put it through at a steady pace; even if it means producing a couple of tonnes less a day, it gives you a better product."

The MD stresses the importance of having the right kind of client who prefers to pay for a better product. "Some of the clients are not interested in seeing the product and just want it in whatever format, namely the cheapest option."

Huke also has little time for clients who still buy virgin aggregates. "Some people are still stuck in the dark ages and don't use recycled products," he says dismissively.

What about the future of Muckit? "We plan to continue our recycling ethos by working to send a minimum of materials to landfill. Also we are currently at a manageable level with good staff. There is a shortage of lorry drivers in the sector, but we have a great team.

Look after the team

"My motto is to treat them well. I used to be a lorry driver and I believe you should never ask someone to do something that you wouldn't be able to do yourself."

What about investing in more vehicles?

"I am not looking to grow on the vehicle side," states the MD firmly, but then he pauses before casting another look outside at the screener. "We are going to look at Powerscreen's crusher equipment next and plan to have a demonstrator machine on site in the next couple of months."

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