WEBA’S PRODUCT MEASUREMENTS PROVE PERFORMANCE

Mines expect to see performance improvement from their newly installed Weba Chute Systems, but this needs to be measured. Fortunately Weba Chute Systems provides a scientific approach to measuring this which leaves no doubt in the customer’s mind, and provides assurance that their newly installed Weba Chute System will reduce total cost of ownership. 

According to Izak Potgieter, ISO systems manager at Weba Chute Systems, the company conducts in-depth product measurements to make sure that its products are performing. In terms of dust management, for instance, this includes measuring dust levels of conventional chutes on the mine – even before the Weba product is installed.

“Our measuring procedures include a dust analysis programme that can compare a conventional chute with our custom-engineered product,” he says. “Our report to the customer sets out the details of our methodology, the results and the implications in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Act.”

Of particular importance is the exact quantity of smaller dust particles, in the size range below 0,3 microns, that are generated by material passing through the chute. Potgieter highlights that seeing the precise data from these scientific measuring techniques is an assurance to the customer of the value delivered by its chutes. 

The importance that Weba Chute Systems places on detailed measurement is also applied in the maintenance of transfer points. In this field, over a year of intense research and development was invested in calculation methods to reliably model the accuracy of maintenance for individual applications. “Our model tracks tonnages through the chute and the wear of vital components – among other factors – to calculate the wear life remaining,” he says. “This not only provides factual proof of the component lifespan that we predict to our customers, but also allows them to accurately plan their proactive maintenance – ensuring uptime and productivity.”

QUALITY CEMENT PAVES WAY BRIGHTER ECONOMIC FUTURE

By ensuring that a high quality of cement is used in infrastructure, South Africa is investing for a stronger future, according to Richard Tomes, sales and marketing executive at construction materials leader AfriSam.

“With our history going back 87 years, AfriSam has sustained a significant focus on quality which today pays dividends in terms of the structures relied upon by our people and our economy,” says Tomes. “By putting the best quality materials, expertise and technology into our products, we pave the way to a brighter and more reliable future.”

The drive for quality is closely linked to being fit-for-purpose, he says, by ensuring that a range of cements is available for defined applications. In the housing sector, AfriSam has raised the bar with the quality of its All Purpose Cement so that it can be used for a number of purposes within this segment. 

“Contractors and home owners want to rely on a cement that will last, so that problems like cracks in walls do not occur,” he says. “At the same time, there may not be a high level of expertise among some users in this market, exposing them to a potential risk if they choose the wrong cement for the task.”

Mixing concrete with a cement that has been developed only for plastering, for instance, could compromise the integrity of the structure. To avoid this risk altogether, AfriSam’s All Purpose Cement meets a high spec that allows it to be used for any home-building application.

“Road building is another application where quality cement brings many benefits that end-users seldom even see or think about,” he says. “AfriSam’s Roadstab is a specialised cement that allows contractors to create a strong foundation for longer road life, while also giving them delayed setting time to conduct the necessary mixing and compaction.”

By the same token, large structures need a cement which will reduce the heat differential between the inside and outside of a large concrete mass so that cracking does not occur. Special cements to achieve this have allowed South Africans to build vital structures like dams and wind farms, vital to our economic development. 

“As we start to experience the global challenges of climate change, it is not enough to focus just on the quality of cement products themselves,” says Tomes. “We need to innovate the process of how we manufacture these products, for a more sustainable future.”

He highlights that AfriSam’s commitment to both people and the planet have ensured that quality processes have reduced the company’s carbon emissions to well below the international average for cement producers. It has even contributed to water savings by developing cements that consume less water when mixed to produce concrete.

MINING UPTICK SEES LARGER METSO CRUSHERS ENTER SA

Crushing equipment specialist Pilot Crushtec is seeing growing demand from the mining sector as rising commodity prices breathe new life into this industry. 

This contrasts with the construction sector, which remains challenged, according to Francois Marais, director sales and marketing at Pilot Crushtec. Sluggish demand for construction materials has meant that capital expenditure for aggregate crushers remains under pressure.  

“The upturn in mining is spurring local demand for our mobile crushing equipment as contractors – who are our traditional market – move onto mining sites to conduct crushing contracts,” says Marais. This shift from quarry-based or on-site crushing to the mainstream mining sector is demanding crushing equipment from the larger end of the product range.

“We’ve seen a move towards much bigger equipment than what our customers in aggregates would typically use,” he says. “Whereas we might in the past have been supplying operations producing 250 to 350 tonnes per hour, we are now working with customers who work in the region of 500 to 600 tonnes per hour and upwards.”

This is well within the capacity of the Metso crusher range – represented regionally by Pilot Crushtec – which includes mobile units with throughput capacity of up to 1000 tonnes per hour. Recent orders include the supply of a mobile crushing train to an iron ore operation in the Northern Cape, where it is successfully processing up to 550 tonnes per hour.

“We welcome these new opportunities, as we have the quality of product and depth of expertise to ensure the material volumes and operational uptime that mines require,” he says. “We know what this environment demands and can confidently support our customers and equipment at this scale.”

This is opening the door to an exciting era of expansion for Pilot Crushtec, where the company is introducing new models and configurations. At one of the iron ore projects in the Northern Cape supplied by the company, for instance, a global ‘first’ is on the cards for Metso. 

“We are changing the feed arrangement on a mobile cone crusher to include a vibrating grizzly screen feeder configuration – upgrading from the traditional apron feeder,” says Marais. “This means that the upgrade kit is being installed in a completely novel manner at this mine.”

In another pioneering project, the company will, for the first time, be bringing in two Metso large-format, triple-deck ST4.10 mobile screens. While it is not a new product, this installation will be the model’s debut into the South African market. The first unit will arrive in September and the second in October.

“We have high ambitions for these robust units, and expect them to be leading performers in their segment,” he says. “The iron ore application – with its high densities and abrasiveness – is among the most demanding, and these Metso products are well suited to it.”

In neighbouring countries, the aggregate market is holding up better than in South Africa, he notes. The Democratic Republic of Congo has been an active market for Pilot Crushtec, with a 250 tonne per hour aggregate plant recently installed and a mobile jaw crusher delivered. Another mobile jaw crusher was also recently supplied to an aggregate producer in Zambia. 

When South Africa’s aggregate industry recovers, Pilot Crushtec is looking forward to the contribution that will be made by its recently launched mid-market Nordtrack range of mobile crushers and screens. 

“Having launched this range locally just before the Covid-19 lockdowns began, it has not yet had much opportunity to prove itself,” he says. “However, sales of these units have been strong internationally, signalling that our product quality and pricing has met expectations.”

Metso Outotec recently renewed its distributorship agreement with Pilot Crushtec for another five years, after a very successful first five-year period in a formalised relationship. 

Pilot Crushtec also continues to locally manufacture its own range of crushing equipment, managing the various logistical challenges posed by the pandemic’s impact on global freight movement. 

DISPUTES CONTINUE TO BE RESOLVED FOR CIVILS SECTOR

Settling disputes is a key aspect of maintaining fairness and stability in any sector, and the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) continues to render this vital service for the civil engineering industry. 

Through the BCCEI’s Dispute Resolution Centre (DRC), dispute referrals are resolved as quickly as possible to meet the accreditation standards of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), according to DRC manager Merle Denson.

“To ensure we achieve the best results, the BCCEI appoints highly rated commissioners and arbitrators who are accredited by the CCMA and hear cases under industry-specific standards and guidelines,” says Denson. “In addition, they are seasoned professionals with a solid understanding of the civil engineering sector.”

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, cases have continued to be dealt with using all means possible including remote online facilitation via Video Conferencing, Zoom or Teams, she says. As an industry-based forum of organised business and labour, the BCCEI regulates employment conditions and labour relations in civil engineering – with the aim of fostering a stable and productive working environment. 

The DRC’s services are available to all firms in the sector, and to all scheduled and non-scheduled employees who fall within the BCCEI’s scope.

“The cost of using the BCCEI DRC is covered by the monthly dispute resolution levy paid by employers and employees,” she says. “So there is no additional cost for using the DRC, except when referring an Inquiry by Arbitrator (S188A) dispute.”

Denson highlights that, in all dismissal cases referred to the DRC, the applicant and respondent must first explore a process of conciliation to try to resolve the dispute amicably. 

“Where such a settlement cannot be reached, the case then goes to arbitration, if this is requested by the applicant or referring party,” she says. “The case is then arbitrated by an independent commissioner appointed by the BCCEI.”

In the arbitration process, she explains, the arbitrating commissioner hears both sides of the dispute. Based on the evidence that is led and the arguments that are made, the commissioner decides if the dismissal was procedurally or substantively fair, or not  – and issues an arbitration award. All arbitration awards are final and binding.

Denson notes that ‘statutory disputes’ around a range of different kinds of dismissal can be handled by the DRC. These include retrenchments (operational requirement disputes), incapacity due to ill health or  poor work performance and misconduct – as well as strike action, lock-out, unfair suspension, and severance pay. Among the advantages of the DRC’s service is that disputes in large projects can even be heard on site, for example, at the Medupi and Kusile Power Stations 

“On site dispute resolution can be conducted in long-term, multi-disciplinary projects where site agreements are applied,” says Denson. “This means significant savings in time and cost, while ensuring that the process is fully compliant.”

FULL-SERVICE CAPABILITY VITAL FOR RELIABLE PUMP SUPPLY

Even the best quality pumps need to be supported with a full range of aftermarket services, according to Jordan Marsh, sales manager at Integrated Pump Technology. 

“Reliable pumping is the life-blood of many sectors in our economy, making the choice of pump supplier a strategically important one,” says Marsh. “This applies even when customers have specified the best pumps available.”

He highlights, for instance, that Integrated Pump Technology is so confident of its Grindex range that it offers a 36-month warranty on all new pump units purchased. The expected lifespan is, of course, much longer than this, he says, and the company is well equipped to ensure customers long and reliable performance. 

“Our full-service offering includes a comprehensive stock of all critical spares across the range, with a service centre and experienced staff to maintain units to OEM standards,” he says. The necessary equipment and expertise are on hand to look after the complete range of pumps, from the 0,4 kW units right up to the large 90 kW Grindex Bravo Mega pumps. 

Integrated Pump Technology also supplies and supports Faggiolati slurry pumps and Leybold vacuum pumps, and can even service and test other brands of submersible pumps.

Among the technical services in the company’s quality-accredited workshop is its test tank, which allows comprehensive testing of pumps with motors up to 150 kW. According to workshop manager Fred Slabbert, the continual investment in workshop capability means that customers can benefit from a six-month warranty on refurbishments and repairs. The workshop can even conduct full refurbishments. 

“Pump users can bring us their equipment for a professional assessment by our skilled technicians,” Slabbert says. “After careful examination, we generate a condition report which gives all the details necessary for an informed decision, and customers are assured of aftermarket services to OEM standards.”

Underpinning the company’s high service levels is a dedicated workshop sales administrator, providing a strong link between customers and the workshop and spares store.

“We prioritise quick and efficient turnaround times on all spares sales, repairs and quotes, keeping customers informed at each step in our relationship,” he says. In the unlikely event of a customer needing assistance on site, the workshop is also equipped to provide trouble-shooting assistance on most mechanical or electrical issues.

DECADES OF INNOVATION ELEVATE WARMAN® MILL CIRCUIT PUMPS

Doing duty as an integral part of a mine’s minerals extraction circuit, Weir Minerals’ Warman® mill circuit (MC) slurry pumps withstand the harshest conditions while delivering their mission-critical function.

Marnus Koorts, Weir Minerals Africa’s product manager for pumps, emphasises that a mill circuit pump must deal with relatively large rock fragments from the primary mill, which can rapidly wear the pump’s throat bush, impeller and volute liner. 

“If this installation is not optimised, the abrasion could reduce the pump’s wear life to a matter of weeks,” says Koorts. “The significance of wear life is high, as the whole mill circuit comes to a halt when the primary mill’s circuit pump stops – potentially affecting minerals extraction for the whole mine.”

He highlights that the company’s Warman® MC pump range is regarded as a global flagship for the mining sector, evolving over more than eight decades of continual development and innovation. A considerable portion of Weir Minerals’ total R&D investment – which sees 1,3% of its total global sales being ploughed back into product improvement – is directed toward these pumps. 

“Over the years, we have developed many unique and ground-breaking innovations,” he says. “For instance, we developed the adjustable throatbush, a technology that we have advanced ahead of our competitors.”

This innovation optimises the efficiency of the pump, ensuring that the gap between the rotating impeller and the casing is kept at the minimum specified. This, in turn, reduces recirculation and ensures that the pump’s operating efficiency is routinely restored. 

The addition of deep expelling vanes on the high-pressure side of the throatbush diminishes the formation of eddies, which means less turbulence and better hydraulic efficiency. Minimising recirculation also cuts the pump motor’s energy consumption, generating savings on electricity costs that quickly justify the investment on a Warman® pump with this capability. 

“Ease of maintenance is another priority with the Warman MC pumps, allowing for quick and safe repair procedures,” he says. “The quick changeout system of the pump’s wet end is a key innovation, as the entire wet end can be unbolted and removed from the bearing and drive assembly shaft – taking hours off the time required to replace wear parts.” 

With respect to the materials used, Weir Minerals has developed a wide selection of materials for its throatbushes and for lining impellers and pump volutes. While most slurry pumps on the market use high chrome metal in these applications, the company also offers various rubber compounds and a hybrid Warman® MCR-M option – a metal-lined volute which is interchangeable with a rubber lined volute.

An in-house optimisation team – using 3D scans of the mine environment and computational fluid dynamic (CFD) analysis of the slurry flow – helps customers achieve the full benefits of Warman® MC pump innovations. In this way, performance improvements can be modelled even before installation takes place, says Koorts. 

ENSURING THAT HVAC IS NOT WEAKEST OPERATIONAL LINK

South Africa’s hot climate – when combined with demanding site conditions – is often too much for standard heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems. This is where Booyco Engineering’s robust solutions have built a solid name for themselves.

With over three decades of designing, manufacturing and supporting specialised HVAC systems for rail, mining and military applications, the company’s depth of expertise brings a new level of health, safety and productivity to the work site. 

According to Brenton Spies, managing director of Booyco Engineering, the importance of effective HVAC systems has grown significantly in recent years as companies work to improve health and safety while optimising valuable uptime.

“Businesses across a range of industrial sectors are pursuing policies of zero harm,” says Spies. “Cool, comfortable working conditions are a vital part of this trend, whether in relation to rail locomotives or mining and earthmoving equipment.”

“Hot and dusty site conditions, as well as factors like high vibration levels and uneven road surfaces, can undermine the performance of standard-issue HVAC equipment,” he says. This invariably leads to frequent stoppages for repairs – and lost revenue due to unplanned downtime. 

“We have built a niche serving customers who must operate vehicles or mobile equipment for long hours in typically South African conditions,” he says. “Our solutions give customers a reliable foundation for more streamlined and rewarding work cycles.”

The company’s success is based on a detailed understanding of each application, according to Grant Miller, executive director at Booyco Engineering. This includes considering the necessary standards for compliance, airflow, ingress protection (IP) ratings, structural and electrical requirements, corrosion and acoustic noise. 

“Our purpose engineered designs are brought to life in our well-equipped 1,600 m2 assembly facilities in Meadowdale, Gauteng, which are manned by experienced and skilled personnel including quality inspectors,” says Miller. “Following ISO-certified processes, we ensure that our systems are rugged and fit-for-purpose.”

This is confirmed by extensive internal and external testing before products are released. He also emphasises that regular inspections and maintenance are crucial if owners expect smooth and continuous operation. 

“Any unplanned downtime is expensive – so a scheduled HVAC maintenance programme should be in place, as for any other equipment on site,” he continues. “This is why Booyco Engineering has skilled and competent HVAC‑qualified technicians all over the country.”

Located mainly on or near customer sites, these technicians carry out planned maintenance programmes – from Komatipoort and Ermelo, to Saldanha Bay, Richards Bay and Kimberley. There are also roving technicians to address ad-hoc needs. 

“In many industries, an operator is not obliged to work when in-cab temperatures exceed certain levels,” he says. “When an HVAC system goes down, it can, therefore, bring an entire operation to a standstill.”

Avoiding this situation means, firstly, installing an HVAC system that is up to the job at hand and secondly, caring for that system proactively through scheduled maintenance. Booyco Engineering’s capability covers both key aspects, with decades of experience and a nation-wide footprint, says Miller.

HOW INFERIOR PARTS BUILD RISK INTO YOUR FLEET

While the rising cost of OEM spares has led many diesel engine owners to explore alternatives, it is vital that their choice of alternative engine parts does not burden their businesses with unmanageable risk.

“It would be short-sighted to install parts which have no proven reputation or track record in the market,” says Kim Fox of IPD Parts SA, which supplies quality, engineered aftermarket parts. “Where a company tries to save costs upfront on spares without due diligence with regards to quality and durability, it may be building unsustainably high levels of risk into its equipment fleet.”

By taking a longer term approach to risk management, equipment owners can benefit from the cost effectiveness of IPD parts, which stand shoulder-to-shoulder with OEM parts in terms of quality, says Fox. 

Even under demanding economic conditions, businesses need to focus on the revenue-generating potential of their equipment and on building customer trust.

“This means prioritising optimal machine performance and guarding against the risk of unplanned downtime or catastrophic failure,” she says. “This can be achieved with an informed choice of competitively priced parts that have been well proven across the globe for many decades.”

IPD Parts, established in 1955 in the USA, designs and engineers its own range of aftermarket engine parts including pistons, valves, bearings, conrods and gaskets. These designs even offer improvements on the OEM part, and are extensively tested before release. 

Manufacturing takes place at a number of advanced facilities worldwide, in line with ISO 9001:2015 standards. Among the company’s pioneered innovations has been the ‘one box’ gasket set, considerably simplifying the work of the engine assembler. 

ROBUST SCREENS CUSTOM-DESIGNED TO SUIT THE NEED

Kwatani’s success in developing custom vibrating screens for a range of scalping, sizing, dewatering, drain and rinse and desliming applications is built on decades of experience and practical research, according to CEO Kim Schoepflin.

“We focus on the detail of every project, so that the screen performance suits the customer’s mined product and expected output,” says Schoepflin. “This means working with all screen operating parameters like velocity,  stroke,  angle of stroke and deck inclination – as well as the appropriate screen media – to deliver results.”

A vital aspect of the engineering process is the testing of material in Kwatani’s laboratory, using wet or dry test screens and other equipment to outline options for the customer. This allows a differentiated approach to each category of screening required in mining and other sectors. 

“Scalping is usually one of the first steps in the comminution process, which subjects screens to intense strain and wear,” she says. “We therefore design our scalping screens for high drop heights, large sizes of material and considerable throughput tonnages which can handle up to 7,000 tonnes of heavy run-of-mine material ore per hour.”

This means a very specific design and fabrication of deck beams, traverse beams and side plates, for instance, giving maximum uptime and reliability. Using its integrated engineering approach, Kwatani also designs the scalping panels in-house, so that they provide the best balance between impact resistance, durability and economy.

The company also has an enviable track record in custom grizzly feeders – for scalping run-of-mine material varying from fine particles to one-metre lump sizes – across heavy duty applications in commodities including gold, manganese and diamonds. 

“Our feeders efficiently remove fines from ROM prior to secondary crushing, with a strong impact deck that minimises structural shock,” she says. “The configuration must suit the application, with rubber or steel options available. Grizzly bars can also be fabricated or supplied in a cast manganese option for heavy duty applications.”

Sizing is a broad category of screening, with wet or dry applications, where mines aim to achieve their required cut-off while maximising process plant efficiency, product quality and production tonnage. For wet applications, Kwatani offers static or dynamic water spray options on single, double or triple deck configurations depending on material – with either unbalanced motors or exciter gearboxes for larger capacity applications. 

“To protect screens’ deck components and side plates against wear, our options include a comprehensive selection of rubber, polyurethane and ceramic for greater durability,” says Schoepflin. “The key is to ensure high load capacity, improved wear life and lower operating cost.”

Kwatani’s desliming screens effectively remove slimes (fine particles) from larger particles in mineral processing, and Schoepflin says large multi-slope screens are a fashionable choice in this application.

“Our research and development has improved the efficiency of these multi-slope designs. We not only adjust the operating speed, but also the stroke and angle of stroke to optimise efficiency. We also align the number of slopes as well as change the angles of each slope to achieve better performance and life e,” she says. “For instance, we can design a more continuous curvature profile along the screen, with a higher number of slopes ensuring a gradual change of direction for material and optimise the material velocity to improve the overall screening performance. 

She highlights Kwatani’s ability to reduce the transfer of a screen’s dynamic force into the building structure in which it is housed. This is a significant concern in any application, but especially where the infrastructure is aging. 

“We design specialised counter frames for each custom screen, to minimise the transmission of forces into the support structure,” she says. “We have a range of screen mounting options – such as rubber buffers and torsional springs – to optimise this isolation effect.”

SMART MONITORING OF CONCRETE WITH MATURIX

Contractors need to know when their concrete has reached a certain strength, to move ahead with the next stage of construction, but this has never been very easy to find out – until now. 

Having insight into the strength of concrete helps contractors determine when the concrete can be walked on or when formwork can be removed, so that there are no unnecessary delays in the construction schedule. However, concrete strength can be difficult to estimate, as it does not always develop at the same speed. Temperature and weather conditions will affect how fast or slow the strength of a structure develops.

CHRYSO’s Maturix software solution now makes it possible to measure the maturity of concrete on site or in precast element production. Maturix monitors the curing process of concrete, gathering data from in-situ sensors and processing this information on an intuitive software platform. It is able to make real-time maturity calculations, as well as future projections on concrete strength, based on machine learning.

While concrete maturity alone does not show how strong the concrete is, the maturity method can determine the relationship between maturity and strength development. Concrete maturity is a concept that relates temperature, time and strength development. The maturity method is therefore an easy way to estimate the early-age strength development of a concrete mix. Maturix achieves this by providing all relevant insights for concrete monitoring, including temperature, humidity and ambient climate.

Maturix works through a concrete sensor cable which is mounted to the reinforcement before the wet concrete is poured. The thermocouple is connected to the Orbit K transmitter and the monitoring is initiated on a smartphone or computer. Data is continuously transmitted using the Internet of Things (IoT) network Sigfox for accurate real-time data.

The user can track the strength and maturity of the concrete from anywhere and at any time, and can receive a notification when the curing is complete. They can be notified by SMS, e-mail, app notification or on a customised dashboard. This facilitates better scheduling on site, as the user is given exact insights into the concrete behaviour – allowing the project workflow and timelines to be adjusted based on real-time data. This flexibility helps to streamline the construction process, saving time and money.Maturix also makes it easy to document processes for quality assurance reporting, as all monitored data is automatically saved as online reports, which can be shared, exported and downloaded.