Tag Archives: Multotec

GOOD TRAINING KEY TO SAFE USE OF CONVEYOR SPLICING EQUIPMENT

Training in the correct use of mechanical splicing equipment is critical to ensure safety and productivity, according to Benjamin Sibanda, general manager of Mato Products

“Tested and proven the world over, the Mato Belt Fastening System is a reliable and cost effective solution for conveyor belt fastening, especially in the underground coal mining industry,” Sibanda says. “A key advantage of the Mato system is its ability to efficiently splice any textile conveyor belt, with thicknesses from 5 mm up to 20 mm, using the same lacing system with the appropriately-sized clip for that belt.”

Mato Products, which is part of the Multotec Group of companies, provides training to all its customers – at no charge – to keep their operations safe, efficient and up to date with technological improvements.

“We urge customers to make full use of our training service,” Sibanda says, “as the incorrect use of Mato equipment by untrained personnel can result in poor performance of the splice, as well as serious injury to personnel.”

Initial training is provided to new customers whenever a lacing system is delivered and follow-up training, either on surface or underground, is also available. This is provided by Mato’s qualified training and service specialists.

“Our training specialists have many years of experience in the use of the Mato lacing system, as well as in the repair of all Mato lacing equipment. In addition, our facilitators are certified by the Construction Education and Training Authority (CETA),” he says. “We also provide theoretical and practical training at our facility which includes a tour of our clip manufacturing facility and workshops.”

The training covers the safe and correct method of using the equipment, as well as the procedures to be followed when installing a clip splice; a technology offering a fast and durable alternative to hot and cold splicing.

“On completing our training session, the operator will be familiar with the lacing head, lacing bed, wire rope winch, conveyor belt clamp, conveyor belt cutter, conveyor belt skiver, lacing pins, wave master kit and clips,” he says. “They will then be issued with a Certificate of Attendance, which will be valid for two years. We recommend that follow-up training is done before that period has expired.”

The training equips the operators to deal with all four of the Mato belt fastener sizes that are used in the South African mining industry, which have low profiles to allow improved cleaner interaction as well as reduced wear and noise on pulleys and idlers. It also covers the three different types of fasteners – the Mato U30 series, with a stainless steel plate and spring steel staple material for the strongest possible connection and longest service life; the Mato S30 series, for medium strength belts in coal mining, quarries, cement plants and other industrial applications and the Mato E30 system, manufactured from special steel for a strong connection and good service life.

SUSTAINABLE PLANT MAINTENANCE NEEDS BALANCED DECISION MAKING

Adequate budgets for mine plant maintenance – to ensure minimal downtime and optimal performance – need to be based on a strategic management approach that can balance the mine’s production targets with its maintenance requirements.

According to general manager SA Services at Multotec, Garth Jones, this balance is mainly about the relative authority of the production and maintenance functions within an organisation.

“Where the power is unbalanced, and financial decisions unduly favour the production side of the business – to the detriment of the maintenance imperatives – then this can often spell trouble for the life-span and reliability of plant and equipment,” says Jones. “The situation can be exacerbated by short term financial incentives that prioritise higher production, and have the unintended side effect of restricting budget to vital maintenance functions; where this happens, the operation will definitely suffer in the long term.”

He acknowledges that there is huge pressure on mines in terms of operational budgets, and says this has put a particular strain on maintenance activities – as these are often seen as the “low hanging fruit” when mines have to cut costs.

“It’s important that decision makers understand the importance of still allocating enough to the maintenance budget, to protect their assets for the long term while at the same time maintaining current production capacity and efficiency,” he says.

Larger, blue chip customers tend to manage the balance better, having the benefit of a longer term outlook and often greater financial resources. With the cut backs in capital expenditure budgets due to industry uncertainties and low commodity prices – which restricts the purchase of new equipment – there has been a renewed focus on maintaining older plant as an alternative to replacing these units. Jones says a closer relationship with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is the way to achieve the best results from such a focus.

“The prudent approach for most mines is to make use of a ‘package’ arrangement with the OEM, which includes the whole product life cycle from the concept and design, to the testing, commissioning, maintenance and refurbishment,” he says. “The involvement of the OEM throughout the product life cycle is critical to achieving the lowest possible costs of ownership. To let go of the OEM and rely on sources that are not sustainable, can be suicide.”

In addition to keeping equipment running in line with OEM specifications and standards, he highlights the value of continuous improvement – where even existing plant can be regularly upgraded to become more productive over its life span. OEMs are always developing their equipment’s capacity and economy over time, based on their substantial research and development efforts which track and leverage the performance of their global installed base of units.

“The innovation and advancement of our products – especially in these days of fast moving technological change – makes it impractical for mines to try and keep their in-house expertise up to speed with the evolving maintenance requirements of their range of various plant,” says Jones. Rather, it is more realistic and more cost effective to rely on the experience of the OEM, who has developed decades of best practice in the application of their products over a global installation base.”

As most end users work in relative isolation of each other, they tend to see only what is done within their business, and may miss out on the experience of other users. This broader experience, when shared by the OEM among its customers, translates into cost savings and operational efficiencies – as well as quicker problem solving at site level.

“Nine times out of ten, the challenges that customers face with their plants have been encountered before by someone else,” he says. “The solution has usually already been applied by the OEM at another customer, so there is no need to re-invent the wheel.”

Proper maintenance protects assets in the long term.