Bulk Materials Handling Committee

The Bulk Materials Handling Technical Activity Committee (BMHC) provides a focus for technology transfer, the exchange of information and ideas, and the dissemination of best engineering knowledge and practice in the bulk materials handling industry.

The storage, handling and processing of bulk and powdered materials is an important and integral part of many modern industrial processes. A number of years ago it was estimated that materials handling in all forms represented one seventh of UK GNP. Several recent surveys have shown that about 50% of the products handled by industry are in bulk or powder form on a volume basis, representing about 30% by value.

Who we are

The multi-billion pound bulk materials handling business sector covers the design, supply, manufacture and support for equipment used in the moving of bulk commodities with a strong emphasis on engineered solutions. The industry serves a wide range of end user sectors including chemicals, plastics, minerals, mining & quarrying, pharmaceutical, power generation, cement, water treatment, iron and steel, oil and gas, food, including flour and grains, and animal feeds.

Industries represented

The Bulk Materials Handling TAC represent industries including:

  • Bulk materials storage
  • Bagging and bag handling systems
  • Consultancy and testing
  • Mechanical conveying and conveyor systems
  • Pneumatic conveying
  • Feeders
  • Powder handling and storage
  • Dust collection and control systems
  • Crushing, grinding and granulation
  • Sizing and sorting systems
  • Sieves and sifters
  • Magnetic separators and metal detectors
  • Mixers, blenders & blending systems
  • Process Instrumentation, weighing  and control
  • Sampling equipment.

What we do

The Bulk Materials Handling TAC aims to provide a platform for the transfer of technical information and advice covering many disciplines.

  • Meet together three times a year for networking, programme planning and output review, policy formulation and continued professional development
  • Represent the Institution's membership in the bulk industry by providing high quality information
  • Award the IMechE Bulk Materials Handling Award for Innovation and the Bulk Solids Handling Award sponsored by SHAPA.
  • Organise lectures, webinars, seminars conferences on a range of technical topics which covers emerging technologies and compliance
  • Work closely with colleagues from external organisations such as SHAPA, MHEA to provide benefit for everyone in the bulk materials industry.

Over the last decade the Committee has organised approximately two bulk handling seminars a year on topical subjects such as hopper/silo design, pneumatic conveying, belt conveying, sampling, blending/segregation, attrition and degradation and ATEX.

Our objectives

  1. The Institution’s focus for bulk materials handling, providing a platform for the transfer of technical information and advice covering as it does across many disciplines
  2. Promote and support Institution members in their professional bulk materials handling related activities
  3. Promote awareness within the bulk materials handling industry of the benefits of professional engineering
  4. Work closely with other bulk material handling organisations to deliver relevant and timely events, guidance and news to the industry
  5. Promote at all levels education and training including continuing professional development in bulk materials handing engineering and to influence its content
  6. Promote excellence in bulk materials handling
  7. Encourage adequately informed consideration of the bulk materials handling engineering aspects in matters of public, industrial and legislative interests

Committee members

Ian K Hancock Eng Tech MIET IEng MIMechE - Chair

Ian HancockOperations Manager, Bradley Pulverizer Company 

Ian has over 30 years experience in engineering is registered as an IEng Engineer in  variety of disciplines including mechanical, electrical and instrumentation and is a member of the IMechE and IET. 

He studied at Canterbury College of Technology in the Department of Engineering and Mining, followed by a technician apprenticeship in aerospace. He then made a move into heavy engineering in a wide range of industries from paper mills and power generation to quarrying and dredging specialising in bulk material handling with conveyors, size reduction and heavy trommel equipment.

He now works for Bradley Pulverizer Company as Operations Manager managing projects from quote to commissioning, as well as managing upgrades and modernisation of existing plants. Specialising in fine powders production and size classification for a wide range of industries from power generation, steel manufacturing and fertilizer to specialised small scale milling of unusual materials.

 His role also involves Broadfield acidulation units for the manufacture of super phosphate fertilizer and acidic salts.

Eur Ing Graham Leason CEng FIMechE BSc - Vice Chair

Graham LeasonDirector and Consultant Engineer, Tech-A Ltd.

Graham has over 49 years in years in a variety of engineering industries including over 39 years in bulk materials handling. Currently running his own consultancy business providing engineering advice and assistance specialising in bulk materials handling.

Following an apprenticeship at BAC, he studied for an honours degree in mechanical engineering at Surrey University. He has worked in many engineering disciplines from shop floor through the drawing office then onto design management and now consultancy.

His bulk materials handling design experience has been in a broad range of industries including open pit and underground mining plant, long overland high powered conveyors, sand and gravel plants, coal handling, domestic waste and biomass handling facilities.

He is a past chairman of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Bulk Materials Handling Committee, vice chair of the IMechE Process Board, sits on the BSI – MHE/9 Committee and is a member of Material Handling Engineers Association.

Ian Atkinson BSc C.Eng MIMechE MIQ

Ian AtkinsonEngineering Director, C P Spencer Ltd.

Graduating from Trent Polytechnic in 1984 with a degree in mechanical engineering, Ian became a Chartered Engineer in 1993.

Ian’s background is in mining and quarrying, becoming a Member of the Institute of Quarrying (MIQ) in 2003. 

In 2005, Ian joined C Spencer Ltd and was set the task of developing a mechanical handling/process engineering customer base

Since targeting this market, C Spencer Ltd have won over £100 million worth of work in the sector establishing themselves as market leaders in the provision of bio-fuel handling and storage solutions.

Prof Michael Bradley CEng FMHEA BSc PhD

Michael bradley

Director, The Wolfson Centre for Bulk Solids Handling Technology, University of Greenwich.

Mike undertook a technician apprenticeship in the aerospace sector then a degree in engineering at Thames Polytechnic.

Following a period working in control systems for aircraft, he switched to bulk solids handling through a PhD in Pneumatic Conveying at Thames Polytechnic, developing a powder characterisation and pipeline design method that is now widely used.

He has subsequently worked on a broad range of bulk solids handling challenges ranging from silo design and wear protection, through segregation, caking, and plant integration, and has designed plants all over the world in industries from aggregates and coal through chemicals and petro-chem to pharmaceuticals and precious metals.  More recently he has developed activities in particle engineering and powder characterisation.

Mike has written over a hundred papers on these subjects and leads the Wolfson Centre for Bulk Solids Handling Technology at the University of Greenwich, one of the world’s foremost centres of excellence for research and consultancy in solids handling technologies. However, he retains a strong interest in hands-on engineering and is always happiest in the field with his overalls on, troubleshooting or optimising a system for a customer.

Mike is currently chairman of the Technical Committee of the Solids Handling and Processing Association (SHAPA), a Fellow of the Material Handling Engineers Association (MHEA) and highly active in promoting training, best practice and education in solids handling for both budding and practising engineers, through the Bulk Materials Handling Committee and The Wolfson Centre’s own short courses for industry.

Miriam Chong CEng MIMechE

Technical Manager, Russell Finex Ltd

Richard Ellis

Schenck Process

Ralph Charles Knight

ralph charles knight

A mechanical engineer with established expertise in bulk materials handling, including bulk storage, extraction and metering of materials; pneumatic pipeline, mechanical and hydraulic conveying.  

Corporate bulk materials handling specialist for Blue Circle Cement Industries/Lafarge Cement until 2001. Track record includes major corporate projects and consultancy work world-wide, for the cement manufacture, quarrying & heavy process industries.

Recent projects have included several large bulk storage, and rail loading/unloading facilities for various bulk materials including; limestone, clay, shale, slate, coal, clinker, gypsum, Portland cement and fly ash.

Highly experienced in trouble-shooting, managing and training on critical issues such as cost, quality, safety and the environment.

Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) Bulk Materials Handling Committee since 1986.

Dr Eddie McGee

eddie mckeeTechnical Director, Ajax Equipment Limited

Eddie has over 25 years of industrial experience in the technical review and engineering of working solutions for a large number of solids handling projects in chemical, pharmaceutical, nuclear, waste, food, confectionery and other industries.

Currently Technical Director at Ajax Equipment, he is involved in the detailed specification, design and supply of bespoke mechanical solids handling equipment, generally screw feeders, conveyors, mixers and elevators as well as ancillary items such as hoppers, intermediate bulk containers and chutes.

In 2005 he gained a PhD from Glasgow Caledonian University for his work on characterisation and flow behaviour in hoppers and screw feeders. In 2008 he was awarded the IMechE Bulk Materials Handling Award for Innovation.

He is a past Chairman of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Bulk Materials Handling Committee, where he continues to serve, and is an active participant in the European Federation of Chemical Engineering Working Party on Mechanics of Particulate Solids.


Nigel John Mainwaring

Russel Finex

John Pethullis

Southdown Solutions

Des Redmond

Peter Slee-Smith CEng MIMechE

Technical Manager, Dodman Ltd

Peter Webster


Prizes and awards

The committee also provides nominations to other Process Industries Division's prizes and awards

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