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Martin Engineering Celebrates 70 Years Of Innovation


A global innovator in bulk material handling is celebrating 70 years of designing high-quality equipment and accessories, serving customers in a wide range of industries around the world.  Along with spearheading efforts in safety and education, Martin Engineering has had a profound impact on efficient operations in coal, cement, aggregate, biomass and other industries across six continents.  This has earned the company a reputation for excellent customer service and long-lasting equipment, which carry the best warranty in the industry, the company said.MartinEng-400


In 1944, Edwin F. Peterson developed the Vibrolator, the first industrial vibrator designed with compressed air propelling a steel ball around a raceway, which remains an industry standard to this day.  Since then, the company has sustained steady growth based on a foundation of engineered solutions.  “We undergo a continuous evolution as a company, always seeking new and better ways to serve customers and deliver solutions to common industry problems,” said Edwin H. Peterson, son of the founder and current company chairman.

Based in Neponset, Ill., Martin Engineering remains family-owned, which is a point of pride for the organization, putting relationships at the center of its company culture.  “Our close family structure offers the advantage of maintaining a streamlined company that involves and empowers employees at every level,” said Peterson.  “There’s a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that a fourth generation of the family will soon grow into an ownership role within the company.” 

Research and development is at the core of the company philosophy.  After developing a series of successful industrial vibration designs, the company branched out in the 1960s to address a broader range of bulk material handling issues.  “One milestone was the company’s decision to begin developing high-performance products for conveyor applications,” said Scott Hutter, CEO of Martin Engineering.  “This introduced us to the global marketplace and a whole new realm of possibilities.”

From designing air cannons to sonic horns and conveyor belt cleaners, the firm has applied for more than 700 patents – with more than 350 currently active – covering such diverse products as pneumatic valves, conveyor components, dust suppression devices, acoustic cleaners and even measurement tools.  This prompted an expanding network of facilities, currently numbering 27 offices in 16 countries including Mexico, Brazil, China, France, Germany, United Kingdom, South Africa, Turkey, Indonesia and India, with licensees in Canada, Australia, Chile and six EU member countries.  Authorized representatives serve applications in numerous other locations, rounding out a truly global reach of service and sales.

“We are literally reinventing conveyor technology from the ground up,” Hutter pointed out.  “We are revisiting every facet of component and system design with fugitive material control, safety and ease of service as primary criteria.”

A prime example of this is the Center for Bulk Handling Innovation (CFI), where engineers work with customers and outside experts in a technical setting.  The facility allows newly devised components to be tested on production-scale equipment without the need to visit customer sites.  Martin Engineering is constantly developing new solutions in response to increasing customer needs, such as faster, wider conveyors for larger and heavier loads.  Another example is the CFI’s recent research on fly ash and catalyst cleaning for air pollution control devices, assisting coal-fired power plants in their ongoing efforts to reduce NOx emissions. 

Although the CFI is located at the company’s headquarters in Neponset, “There are virtually no limits to the scope or geography of a team,” said Robert Nogaj, Vice President of Operations and New Product Development at Martin Engineering.  “This open and collaborative environment has helped combine the expertise of engineers in different disciplines, from different regions and from a variety of backgrounds.” 

Martin Engineering has been at the forefront of bulk handling training and education since 1991.  Now in its fourth edition, the Foundations™ reference book and instruction series teaches basic operating principles, maintenance and advanced engineering -- both in workshops and online -- to train plant operation managers, maintenance personnel and engineers about how conveyor belt technology works, how to operate it safely and how to improve efficiency.  This book has become the industry standard for conveyor operations as demonstrated by the distribution of more than 16,000 copies.  Martin expertise can be found in the offices of plant managers, maintenance supervisors, and operations managers around the world.

The Walk the Belt™ program and Safety First line of products are unique in the industry and demonstrate a founding principle toward worker safety.  “Safety has always been one of the driving forces behind our business,” Peterson explained.  “It was one of the motivations for the company’s very first commercial products and remains a key element of every design.”

Martin Engineering’s focus on safety is based on its perspective on corporate responsibility and a deep commitment to the local communities in the regions where the company is active.  Employees have donated hundreds of hours of volunteer time for organizations such as Race for the Cure, Big Brothers / Big Sisters, Adopt-A-Highway, FIRST Robotics and Junior Achievement.  The company has contributed to worthy causes such as the UBB Miners Memorial Project, Casa Hogar orphanage, Child Welfare, White Rose Hospice, the Cancer Association and the SPCA, as well as sponsorship of local schools and club sports teams.

Through the dedication of family and employees to Martin Engineering’s core principles of producing safe and effective solutions for its customers, company officials are confident of a solid future.  “We progressively grow and develop as a company,” Peterson concluded.  “We will continue to design innovative products and services, while working to anticipate new challenges and find ways to meet them.”