BCCEI REPORTS EARLY PROGRESS TO MAKE CIVIL ENGINEERING SITES SAFE AGAIN

After years of increasing intimidation and violence on large and small construction sites around South Africa, stakeholders are starting to work together to roll back this scourge.

These hopeful signs are important to the future of the country’s economy, as government prepares to invest in long-awaited public infrastructure. According to Lindie Fourie, operations manager at the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI), it is encouraging to see growing collaboration among public sector organisations, business groups and other key participants.

“This year has seen the BCCEI develop and implement an Action Plan to serve its members, who are employers and employees in civil engineering,” says Fourie. “This plan is focused on making our work sites safe and productive again, after years of facing brazen intimidation, violence and theft.”

She highlights that civil engineering contractors prioritise the safety of their staff, and their contractual obligations to clients. With the rise of construction mafias and general crime in the country, many work sites have been forced to meet criminal demands or face life-threatening consequences.

“The situation in many areas is so serious that workers and employers are even too scared to report the criminals to the police – for fear of reprisal,” she explains. “The police in turn say they can’t act without a docket. With our new communication channels, we are exploring ways that incidents can be reported without jeopardising people’s safety.”

She argues that trade unions and employer bodies are at the heart of the BCCEI, and these groups work together to protect lives and jobs. This is the basis for growing South Africa’s economy so that standards of living can improve.

“This is why the BCCEI cannot ignore the devastating impact of criminality on construction sites, as this is destroying jobs and preventing growth,” she says.

The BCCEI’s Action Plan dovetails with other national initiatives to rescue the economy from construction mafias and other criminal activity; central to these efforts is the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure’s Anti-Corruption Forum. The BCCEI’s work has opened the door to collaboration with policing authorities, local government and other business bodies who are fighting crime.

“This year, we have been encouraged by the willingness of many of these stakeholders to join hands and push back against those elements who are eroding our industry and future,” says Fourie. “Of course, it is still early days in getting results, and we realise how difficult the process is going to be. However, a start has been made and everyone really needs to step forward now.”

She notes that the BCCEI has received compliments on its Action Plan, with stakeholders congratulating the bargaining council  for helping to facilitate stability at disrupted work sites.

“We urge all organisations, companies and communities who are facing obstacles or threats to the successful execution of civil engineering projects, to contact the BCCEI,” she says. “We are developing a platform where people can raise their concerns and be provided with guidance on how to address the issues.”

It was also vital to take steps to prevent the criminal disruption of sites – not just to respond after it happens. The work of the BCCEI therefore includes plans and procedures for contractors to engage with local and other stakeholders before a construction project was even started. Fourie says these interventions help to educate the community and alert the relevant local players of possible risks – so that these can be avoided by timeous action.

PARKS BOULEVARD BUILDING MARKS 7-UP FOR CONCOR AT OXFORD PARKS

After beginning construction this July, Concor is well on track to soon top out another elegant office block in the Oxford Parks precinct – with environmentally responsible readymix with a low CO2 footprint from AfriSam.

The modern 5 Parks Boulevard building is one of Intraprop’s latest projects in this fast-growing mixed-use development in Rosebank, Johannesburg. Such has been Concor’s success at Oxford Parks that the building is its seventh contract there.

“Like our previous Oxford Parks projects, this building is designed to achieve a high Green Star rating by the Green Buildings Council South Africa (GBCSA),” says Martin Muller, contract manager at Concor.

The office block will comprise four basement levels and five office levels, offering about 7,300 square metres of gross leasable area (GLA). The design includes a triple-volume atrium in the reception area to make the most of natural light and reduce energy. This feature extends from the ground floor through to the second floor. Further utilising the natural light is a double-volume area on the third and fourth floors.

“The structure is based on conventional reinforced concrete slabs from the basements to the roof, with a lift core to accommodate three lifts down to the lowest basement,” says Muller. “As the bulk concrete supplier, AfriSam is providing between 150 m3 and 250 m3 of readymix concrete for each slab.”

He highlights that, as a Green Star rated building, the concrete mix designs are required to reduce the overall CO2 footprint of the structure. This has been achieved by using more fly ash in the mixes, thereby reducing cement levels by 30%. He notes that the quality and consistency of AfriSam’s mixes have allowed Concor to reduce the cycle time of each slab pour from the normal 11 days to nine or 10 days.

“On a fast track projects like this one, this enables us to speed up our cycle times as we can de-stress the slab and recycle formwork to the next level more quickly,” he says. “This will help us to top out the structure before the builders have their Christmas break this December.”

Quality assurance on the concrete is done both by AfriSam and Concor. After every concrete slab pour, concrete cubes are cast – then are crushed to test their strength after seven days, 14 days and 28 days. While 25 MPa strength concrete is used for the slabs, higher strengths from 35 MPa to 60 MPa are used for the columns and verticals.

The anchor tenant plans to occupy the third and fourth levels of 5 Parks Boulevard, and the schedule will see them take beneficial occupation in February 2023 to fit out the new building.

SANDVIK’S BATTERY ELECTRIC RANGE PAVES ROUTE TO MINE OF THE FUTURE

Sandvik has long been a leading innovator in mining technology, and the launch of its battery electric vehicles now brings opportunities previously only dreamed about by the mining sector.

Speaking recently at the Electra Mining Africa exhibition in South Africa, Sandvik vice-president strategy and commercial Jakob Rutqvist, explained that this leap brings a full package of benefits. Not only is battery-driven equipment a practical response to health, safety and decarbonisation priorities, but it also delivers higher production rates and increased tonnages.

Sandvik’s TH665B is the world’s largest underground mining truck and is powered by an 8-tonne battery built with mining in mind.
Sandvik’s TH665B is the world’s largest underground mining truck and is powered by an 8-tonne battery built with mining in mind.

“Mines will find this technology exciting because it addresses such a range of imperatives facing mining today,” Rutqvist says. “The future of mining is more responsible, looking for lower carbon emissions and healthier working conditions. At the same time, mines need to produce more with less, and they therefore need to be more efficient in the use of resources and assets.”

He highlights that the future of mining is electric, automated and digital. Sandvik innovates in all three spheres, but its experience in electric vehicles dates back decades. The company has been supplying the sector with electric machines since the 1980s, he says, but this was cable technology. Its application was limited to those mines designed with the necessary infrastructure to support the power supply cables – and presented some operational limitations.

Electra Mining Africa 2022 saw the launch of Sandvik's TH665B a 65-tonne payload truck.
Electra Mining Africa 2022 saw the launch of Sandvik’s TH665B a 65-tonne payload truck.

At the Sandvik exhibition stand at Electra Mining Africa 2022 was an entirely new proposition: a battery electric vehicle (BEV) designed from the ground up. With a 65-tonne payload, Sandvik’s TH665B is the world’s largest underground mining truck – powered by an 8-tonne battery built with mining in mind.

“The rapid evolution of battery technology has allowed Sandvik to accelerate its BEV developments, but our strategy has been to design for mining – not just to convert designs from other sectors,” he says. “Neither did we want to simply convert our diesel-driven machines, and just replace an engine with a battery.”

With this vision, Sandvik acquired Artisan Vehicle Systems in 2019, a US-based supplier of battery electric vehicle solutions for underground mining. This was integrated into Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, giving the company a head-start over its competitors.

“The Sandvik approach to the Fourth Industrial Revolution starts with our customers,” he says. “While it is easy for engineers to get carried away with today’s technology, we must find the value that we can add to customers’ operations – their safety, productivity and other opportunities.”

The kind of challenge to be solved was a deep level gold mine in Canada whose ventilation costs at depth was making their mineral deposit unviable. In this context, the BEV was a targeted solution that made mining possible and profitable.

Data from the Sandvik Knowledge Box can be accessed in the My Sandvik IoT hub.
Data from the Sandvik Knowledge Box can be accessed in the My Sandvik IoT hub.

“Over half of the global mining sector has committed to net zero emission goals in the coming decades, and are looking for practical ways to decarbonise their operations,” he continues. “In a typical underground mine, 50 to 60% of emissions come from the mobile fleet – and about half of this will be from the primary haulage equipment.”

Trucks and loaders are therefore a good place to start looking for solutions, and BEVs are now centre stage among the options. Rutqvist points out that by replacing a diesel vehicle, the TH665B truck could reduce a mine’s carbon emissions by 1 to 2 tonnes every day.

Building on the heritage of Artisan Vehicle Systems, Sandvik’s technology is already proven and ready for market. The Sandvik TH665B truck displayed at Electra Mining Africa 2022 completed final factory trials in California earlier in the year, and will soon be in Australia for extended field trials at a leading gold producer.

There, it will haul heavy loads at speed on long and steeply inclined ramp, to push this technology to its limits, Rutqvist explains. After the site testing is finalised, it is planned that the first commercial builds can start in 2023. Other products in the range are also ready for deployment, with a deep level South African mine already in line to receive the Sandvik LH518B compact 18-tonne loader in the next few months. The company’s over-arching strategy is to have a full range offering by 2025, covering all the major size classes with battery electric trucks and loaders.

“Beyond the decarbonisation benefits of BEVs, mines are ordering them for the improved productivity they will deliver,” he says. “Electric technology can increase tonnages moved by 20 to 30% due to the higher power levels and faster cycle times. The ground-up design has ensured a simplified driveline that also lowers operating costs.”

One of the key aspects of Sandvik’s BEV offering is that it aims to ease implementation in existing mine designs – rather than requiring extensive reconfiguration of mine infrastructure. This includes the battery-swapping functionality, allowing each unit to off-load a depleted battery and on-load a full one by itself – without the operator leaving their cab. Neither does the mine have to put any extra cranes or lifting devices in place.

The leveraging of electric, automation and digital aspects are vital to the future of mining, he argues. With regard to BEVs, this means marrying Sandvik’s established AutoMine™ technology with the exciting new directions from its Artisan acquisition.

“We are planning a staged implementation of the latest Sandvik control systems on our BEVs, starting with the LH518B loader next year,” he says. “This will be the start of the process of enabling AutoMine™ on all our BEVs.”

This will further improve machine utilisation and reduce total cost of ownership, due to automation potential and end-to-end optimisation of the load and haul process. The digitalisation focus is also crucial, and includes a current focus on telemetry.

“We are fitting all our BEVs with our Sandvik Knowledge Box™ – our standard telemetry box – for gathering machine data and transmitting it to cloud storage,” he says. “This data can then be accessed in the My Sandvik IoT hub, where it is processed into easy-to-use knowledge about the fleet’s health and performance.”

With batteries now becoming a pillar of mining’s future, there is also work underway to give BEV users detailed information in real time about the health of batteries used in mining equipment. Rutqvist highlighted that the technology road ahead holds much potential for forward-looking mines, and that Sandvik is well advanced on this journey.

HOW MV MOTORS CAN DELIVER RELIABILITY AND BETTER TOTAL COST

Many critical industrial and other applications can benefit from Medium Voltage (MV) Electric motors, due to their reliability and low total cost of ownership.

Floris Erasmus, Sales Specialist HV Motors at Zest WEG.
Floris Erasmus, Sales Specialist HV Motors at Zest WEG.

According to Floris Erasmus, sales specialist HV motors at Zest WEG, the benefits of MV electric motors includes their being purpose-designed and well protected. This makes them very reliable, and thus well suited for critical applications where the risk of failure-related disruption must be mitigated.

“Any motor application – from pumps and fans to crushers and conveyors – can present a critical risk if a significant portion of the whole operation relies upon it,” says Erasmus. “In these cases, it is often worth considering the MV motor option in new projects or in circumstances where motors are being replaced.”

While the category of Low Voltage (LV) electric motors tends to end at about 1,000 V, MV motors range from 1,000 V up to as high as 33 kV. In the South African market, the upper end of the MV range is usually 11 kV, he says.

“MV motors are generally not off-the-shelf, and are rather specially designed for their application,” he says. The construction is also different to an LV motor. The ‘wire’ used in the windings, for instance, is more like a rectangular bar. Normally covered with mica tape, they make up form-wound coils.

“The coils are individually wrapped with thicker insulation to accommodate the higher voltage,” he says. “There is only one turn in a slot, so there is no potential difference between turns; this means that there is less chance of an inter-turn failure or short circuit between coils.”

An important difference in the winding of an MV motor is that it is conducted using vacuum pressure impregnation (VPI) and the use of an epoxy resin. Applying this resin in a vacuum allows all air and moisture to be removed. The absence of air allows the resin to flow more effectively into the spaces between the steel core and the copper winding. The incidence of air pockets in the slot of the stator is where many winding failures in motors begin.

“If resin is not effectively distributed, this can undermine the mechanical strength of the winding,” he says. “The epoxy resin used in MV motors is very strong compared to varnish.”

He highlights that the removal of moisture during the VPI process reduces the possibility of short circuits caused by water particles trapped inside the motor windings.

“Another benefit of MV motors is their low starting and operating current,” explains Erasmus. “The kilowatt rating of a motor – the power it consumes – is a function of the voltage; by raising the voltage, the amperage drawn in reduced.”

The starting current of a motor tends to be about six times higher than the operating current, he points out. By reducing the operating current, an MV motor thereby helps to reduce the strain that high starting currents can place on the electrical system in a mine, plant or factory.

The MV option also has a distinct advantage when it comes to the use of variable speed drives (VSDs). The transformers that are part of the MV motor installation ensure that no extra filters or add-ons are required to achieve near-perfect sine waves. He notes that MV VSDs are also better at disrupting harmonics in the electrical system.

Protection systems on MV motors are an important aspect of ensuring their longevity. Erasmus explains that they are normally electrically protected with a smart relay which is password-protected. This makes it difficult to by-pass the overload systems that protect the motor, and prevents the motor from being started under fault conditions. While this protection might slightly increase installation costs, it helps reduce total cost of ownership.

“In terms of our own MV offering, WEG has recently launched its W51 range – which includes MV motors,” he says. “This new range offers improved efficiencies and higher output to weight ratios, and the motors are suitable for VSD.”

Availability is from a 315 to 450 frame, which with four-pole motors translates to a range of 132 kW to 1,400 kW. The standard range reaches 6,6 kV but motors up to 11 kV can also be requested.

“The range includes motors for hazardous areas, where there may be gasses which are susceptible to ignition,” says Erasmus.

WHY SUBMERSIBLE PUMPS RISE ABOVE THE REST IN FLUID HANDLING

Submersible pumps have long been a staple in the world of fluid handling and pumping, with their presence becoming more pronounced, especially in particular applications like sump pumping, wastewater management and numerous industrial processes. Ruaan Venter, Rental Development Manager at IPR, says that while engineers have various solutions at their fingertips submersible pumps often stand out especially when compared to vertical spindle pumps. So, what gives these submersible devices their edge?

“First and foremost, submersible pumps are known for their superior energy efficiency,” Venter says. “This elevated efficiency not only makes them outperform their vertical spindle counterparts, but it also leads to significant cost savings in the long run.”

Space is often at a premium in many dewatering setups, and this is where submersible pumps have the upper hand. Their direct placement in the fluid they handle means there is no need for extended piping or additional external infrastructure. This innate compactness becomes a boon, especially in locations where space is tight.

Maintenance is also a recurring concern in any wastewater, mining or industrial environment and Venter says that submersibles come out on top here as well. With fewer moving parts than vertical spindle pumps, which often come with above-ground mechanical setups, submersible pumps are less prone to wear. This reduced wear translates into more dependable performance, ensuring a smoother operational experience.

Fluid handling is the core of any pump, and submersible pumps excel in this domain. Venter explains that due to their fully submerged operation, these pumps are essentially immune to issues like cavitation or airlocks, which sometimes plague vertical spindle pumps. This submerged state ensures a consistent and smooth pumping process, offering significantly enhanced reliability. 

“But it’s not just about efficiency and reliability. Submersible pumps also promise a quieter operational experience. Their underwater functioning naturally dampens sound and curtails vibrations, offering a noise-free solution,” he continues. 

Moreover, submersible pumps are stalwarts when it comes to reliability, even in challenging environments. Their underwater operation shields them from many external factors, ensuring they last longer and operate with unwavering reliability, even when conditions turn hostile.

But what if the fluid isn’t clear water? Submersible pumps have got that covered too. They are adept at processing an array of fluids, even those riddled with abrasive solids. This versatility makes them an excellent choice for varied tasks, be it sewage or other wastewater pumping applications or dewatering in intricate mining operations or sumps in buildings or other structures.

Safety is paramount, and submersible pumps don’t skimp on this aspect either. Their positioning underwater diminishes risks linked with rotating parts and potential leaks, issues that are often more glaring with above-ground pumps.

In today’s age, where environmental consciousness is key, submersible pumps rise to the occasion. Many can be customised to avert fluid leaks, ensuring they operate with minimal environmental impact, adhering to contemporary ecological regulations and sustainability goals.

Lastly, their design boasts flexibility. Depending on the depth requirements, these pumps can be adapted, ensuring a fluid handling system that aligns perfectly with specific operational demands.

“The decision between submersible pumps and vertical spindle pumps really comes down to the unique demands of the application in question, but given the vast array of benefits submersibles bring to the table – from energy efficiency to environmental safety – they undeniably present a compelling argument for their widespread adoption across various sectors,” Venter concludes. 

IPR is the master distributor for the full range of Atlas Copco submersible dewatering pumps, as well the Toyo range of heavy-duty slurry pumps. The company has an extensive reference base and offers its pumps for outright purchase or on a rental basis. Its skilled team can assess an individual application and propose the most appropriate solution that will ensure the lowest total operating cost for a customer. 

DRY-TYPE TRANSFORMERS GO 1,6 KM DEEP IN SA GOLD MINE

When dry-type transformer specialist Trafo Power Solutions was asked to supply three units to an underground South African gold mine, it was given a hill to climb in terms of design and logistics. 

The mine required the transformers to operate in the usual demanding conditions of dust, moisture and heat, says Trafo Power Solutions managing director David Claassen. However, there were a range of other challenges – not least the weight and height restrictions of a deep mine. While two of the transformers are relatively small – 250 kVA and 630 kVA – the third is a substantial 3150 kVA.

“The transformers are to operate at about 1km below surface, and will have to be transported through both an incline shaft and vertical shaft,” says Claassen. “Especially with the larger unit, we had to work very closely with our Italian technology partner TMC to reach a design that could be moved within these constraints.”

Trafo Power Solutions also designed the enclosures locally, in a manner that would allow them to be transported in manageable components before being re-assembled underground. The enclosure design had to ensure that while dust and moisture were kept out, there was still enough air circulation to cool the unit. The dry-type transformers will be supplying loads for a refrigeration plant. 

“Trafo Power Solutions conducted the complete designs, which were then verified and vetted by TMC,” he says. “This quality control is central to our approach in ensuring fit-for-purpose solutions.” 

He emphasised that the design and manufacture of the units was carried out according to schedule and they are on track to be supplied within the customer’s required timeframes. 

“On-time supply is an increasingly important aspect of success for mining companies,” he says. “Mines’ capital expenditure is planned according to the expected returns on any project, and supplier delays can undermine these forecasts.”

Meeting delivery expectations goes hand-in-hand with the efficiency and reliability of Trafo Power Solutions’ offerings, he explains. These factors contribute significantly towards total cost of ownership, which is of utmost importance to mining customers. 

Trafo Power Solutions also designed the specialised skid bases for the transformers, to facilitate moving the units to their operating destination. These accommodate the considerable weight of the units, particularly the 10-tonne mass of the large 3150 kVA unit. 

Delivery of the transformers is expected to take place by the fourth quarter of 2022, with Trafo Power Solutions supervising the installation and commissioning process. 

DRY-TYPE TRANSFORMERS GO 1,6 KM DEEP IN SA GOLD MINE

When dry-type transformer specialist Trafo Power Solutions was asked to supply three units to an underground South African gold mine, it was given a hill to climb in terms of design and logistics.

The mine required the transformers to operate in the usual demanding conditions of dust, moisture and heat, says Trafo Power Solutions managing director David Claassen. However, there were a range of other challenges – not least the weight and height restrictions of a deep mine. While two of the transformers are relatively small – 250 kVA and 630 kVA – the third is a substantial 3150 kVA.

The dry-type transformers were designed in such a manner as to allow them to be transported in manageable components underground and reassembled.
The dry-type transformers were designed in such a manner as to allow them to be transported in manageable components underground and reassembled.

“The transformers are to operate at about 1km below surface, and will have to be transported through both an incline shaft and vertical shaft,” says Claassen. “Especially with the larger unit, we had to work very closely with our Italian technology partner TMC to reach a design that could be moved within these constraints.”

Trafo Power Solutions also designed the enclosures locally, in a manner that would allow them to be transported in manageable components before being re-assembled underground. The enclosure design had to ensure that while dust and moisture were kept out, there was still enough air circulation to cool the unit. The dry-type transformers will be supplying loads for a refrigeration plant.

“Trafo Power Solutions conducted the complete designs, which were then verified and vetted by TMC,” he says. “This quality control is central to our approach in ensuring fit-for-purpose solutions.”

He emphasised that the design and manufacture of the units was carried out according to schedule and they are on track to be supplied within the customer’s required timeframes.

“On-time supply is an increasingly important aspect of success for mining companies,” he says. “Mines’ capital expenditure is planned according to the expected returns on any project, and supplier delays can undermine these forecasts.”

Meeting delivery expectations goes hand-in-hand with the efficiency and reliability of Trafo Power Solutions’ offerings, he explains. These factors contribute significantly towards total cost of ownership, which is of utmost importance to mining customers.

Trafo Power Solutions also designed the specialised skid bases for the transformers, to facilitate moving the units to their operating destination. These accommodate the considerable weight of the units, particularly the 10-tonne mass of the large 3150 kVA unit.

Delivery of the transformers is expected to take place by the fourth quarter of 2022, with Trafo Power Solutions supervising the installation and commissioning process.

NEW HIGH-TECH AFRICAN FACILITY FOR SEW-EURODRIVE

SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa, a specialist in drive and control technologies, moved into its new state-of-the-art 26 000-m2 headquarters complex in Aeroton, Johannesburg, earlier this year. The new complex more than triples the floor and factory space that was available at its previous premises.

SEW-EURODRIVE has used its own technology to automate operations at the Aeroton facility.
SEW-EURODRIVE has used its own technology to automate operations at the Aeroton facility.

Built and equipped at a cost of R200 million and modelled on SEW-EURODRIVE’s showcase factory in Graben-Neudorf in Germany, the facility – which accommodates approximately 150 employees– makes extensive use of the latest technologies to effectively network people, processes, services and data.

The investment reflects SEW-EURODRIVE’s confidence in the future of both South Africa and the African continent. The company points out that Africa is regarded as the world’s next growth market. Home to 17 % of the global population in 2019, it is expected to account for 26 % by 2050, as well as an estimated US$16,2 trillion of combined consumer and business spending.

The new facility will play a pivotal role in allowing SEW-EURODRIVE to service the burgeoning Africa market efficiently.
The new facility will play a pivotal role in allowing SEW-EURODRIVE to service the burgeoning Africa market efficiently.

Commenting on the investment, Raymond Obermeyer, Managing Director of SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa, says: “This is a bold step that demonstrates our commitment to being part of solving South Africa’s problems and developing the economies of countries across Africa.”

SEW-EURODRIVE currently services 23 countries throughout the African continent from South Africa. “With the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) protocol, which came into effect in early 2021, and a push to grow manufacturing on the continent, we are expecting African markets to account for around 50 % of our turnover within the next few years,” says Obermeyer.

The new facility will play a pivotal role in allowing SEW-EURODRIVE to service the burgeoning Africa market efficiently. It houses not only the group’s African head office but also an assembly plant for industrial gears and electric drives, expanded central warehousing and repair facilities. It also encompasses assembly and repair of all VSD’s, AGV’s and Servo motor technology. SEW-EURODRIVE also employs multiple mechanical, electrical and mechatronic engineers to further support technical customer queries.

In addition, it accommodates SEW-EURODRIVE’s unrivalled Drive Academy, which delivers product awareness and maintenance training to customers. Online and virtual AR training and support is also now available, in direct support of SEW-EURODRIVE’s social development plans.

The expanded warehousing gives SEW-EURODRIVE the ability to increase stock levels, a huge benefit given the problems currently affecting the global supply chain. It means the company’s customers in Africa will be able to able to get orders – for new equipment or spares – fulfilled with minimal delay.

“The new facility allows us to service our customers more efficiently, reducing the high cost of unplanned downtime and allowing them to adhere to their scheduled maintenance programmes,” Obermeyer states. “Ensuring our customers’ continued productivity has been the key driver behind the development of our new premises.”

Over a three to five-year period, SEW-EURODRIVE will incorporate further 4IR technologies, including automated assembly machines and guided vehicles, into the Aeroton factory at a cost of an additional R200 million.

“We are working hard to shape the factory of tomorrow with system solutions for Industry 4.0 and a focus on raising productivity and implementing smart maintenance while, at the same time, providing ergonomic support for the people working in these facilities,” notes Obermeyer.

SEW-EURODRIVE has used its own technology to automate operations at the Aeroton facility, with the main production conveyor being based on the company’s high-tech MOVI-C® all-in-one modular drive solution which is now being introduced to the African market. MOVI-C® had its official African launch at the recent Electra Mining Africa 2022 show in Johannesburg.

In essence, MOVI-C®C is a suite of products – which includes controllers (PLCs), variable speed drives, gear motors and servomotors – that automates drive applications, whether they be simple or very complex.

The installation – which has resulted in a 40 % productivity gain – includes the MOVIGEAR® mechatronic drive system. The MOVIGEAR® units – which combine an energy-efficient IE5 motor, gear unit and corresponding drive electronics in a single housing – control and drive the production conveyor. The modular nature of the installation means it can easily be extended in the future should the need arise.

The assembly line for geared motors can accommodate 7 000 units per month while assembly of industrial gear (IG) units is currently being ramped up to between 100 to 140 IG units per month, doubling current capacity. New spray booths and automated oil filling stations have been installed to cater for these volumes.

All local assembly is conducted in accordance with SEW-EURODRIVE’s global quality standards, with the assembly of VSDs, servo motors and other sensitive equipment being conducted in an isolated clean area – with copper grounding and anti-static mats – of the facility. The assembly and logistics processes are also now incorporated into SEW-EURODRIVE’s SAP system, which gives better traceability and visibility of all orders as they move through assembly processes.

Among the products to be produced at the new facility  are SEW-EURODRIVE’s modular air-cooled condenser (MACC) drives, which have already experienced excellent sales in South Africa with two units having been installed recently in the Northern Cape and a further 24 units at a Limpopo site.

Forming part of SEW-EURODRIVE’s M-Series modular IG range, the MACC is a purpose-designed gearbox solution for driving the modern fan-based air-cooled condenser systems used in steam-driven power generation units.

SEW-EURODRIVE will stock a single casing size with multiple components and specific ratios depending on which power station requires the drive. This modular approach will enable the new facility to custom assemble MACCs at a rate of approximately two to three units a week, drastically cutting the long lead times typically associated with equipment of this type.

Other notable products to be locally assembled include the New Generation X.e Series industrial gears; the P-series planetary industrial gears for high torque mining applications; short importation and commission lead times for mill drive solutions with power packs; electric motors; and the customised single-stage M1 range of speed reducers, which consists of 37 options for fine tuning a drive’s output speed and torque.

Illustrating the benefits of the new Johannesburg facility, SEW-EURODRIVE anticipates being able to assemble and test customised M1 units within two to three weeks from an order being placed. Previously they had to be imported from overseas with lead times of between 16 and 20 weeks.

Quick facts

  • Purpose-designed facility offering 26 000 m2 of floor and office space
  • Serves as the hub for SEW-EURODRIVE’s fast-expanding African operations
  • Allows delivery times to customers to be cut dramatically
  • Operates in accordance with SEW-EURODRIVE’s demanding global quality standards
  • Incorporates the latest 4IR technologies
  • Features a main production conveyor based on the MOVI-C® modular drive solution

HVAC LEADER TAKES HIGH-TECH APPROACH TO PROTOTYPING

Decades of experience have combined with leading edge software to give Booyco Engineering world-class rapid prototyping capability.

Known best for its customised heating, cooling and ventilation (HVAC) systems, it has embraced technology to meet global standards. According to Brenton Spies, managing director at Booyco Engineering, simulation software is a key asset.

Booyco Engineering’s CFD simulation to balance flow rates out of louvres in a vehicles ducting.
Booyco Engineering’s CFD simulation to balance flow rates out of louvres in a vehicles ducting.

“In the past, the conventional practice in product development was to build a physical prototype and then put it through a series of tests,” says Spies. “Often, these tests would lead to the rebuilding of new prototypes – to progressively remove the weaknesses we discovered by testing.”

The company has invested over R10 million in specialised Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software. These are used for modelling factors such as the strength of components, structure-borne vibration, and airflow and heat distribution inside its HVACs and conditioned spaces.

“These resources allow us to run simulations and iron out most of the issues before we even build a prototype,” he says. “The simulations cut down significantly on the time taken by the traditional ‘trial and error’ route in developing solutions for customers, allowing us to get product to the customer faster, saving both time and money.”

This capacity has led to Booyco Engineering becoming an approved supplier to global rail OEMs. Grant Miller, executive director at Booyco Engineering, explains how the company became the first South African supplier to locally manufacture a cooling tower for electric locomotives. Working within the customer’s demanding framework of specifications and standards, the value added by the software was vital to the successful outcome.

“We developed our initial prototype design, which was then systematically verified against the customer specifications using CFD or FEA simulations to ensure the design was producing the expected results,” says Miller.

Only then was a physical test conducted. This test, he says, was almost a formality – to verify the calculations and simulations.

“For the cooling tower we designed and built, we physically vibration-tested the components but not the actual structure,” he says. “This was because the structure weighed about a ton and a half. But we could conduct a detailed FEA to verify the structure, which satisfied the customer’s requirements.”

This approach is proved by the fact that this cooling tower has successfully operated on an electric locomotive since 2016 with no structural failures.

ZEST WEG DELIVERS MOBILE SWITCHING STATION TO MOZAMBIQUE

Zest WEG has completed the delivery of a mobile switching station to Mozambique’s national power utility EDM (Electricidade de Moçambique), further reinforcing its reputation as a supplier of cost-effective, custom-designed mobile power solutions.

The 33 kV switching station, complete with 36 kV rated switchgear, is housed within a purpose-built enclosure installed on a double-axle trailer and includes all protection requirements to allow for quick connection and safe operation at all times.

“Mozambique is regarded by Zest WEG as a key strategic market and we’re therefore delighted to have successfully completed this order,” comments Sollie Herbst, senior manager, Energy Systems at Zest WEG. He adds that while Zest WEG does not have a branch in Mozambique, it has an established Value-Added Reseller in the country able to provide support – in conjunction with Zest WEG in South Africa – to customers in the country.

Sollie Herbst, senior manager Energy Systems at Zest WEG.
Sollie Herbst, senior manager Energy Systems at Zest WEG.

The switching station was designed and manufactured in South Africa by Zest WEG with the lead engineer on the project being Dumisani Dlamini, energy systems engineer within the Energy Systems division of the company. The specifications and end-user requirements to be met were provided to Zest WEG by MESAT, a Mozambican engineering company acting on behalf of EDM.

Dumisani Dlamini, engineer Energy Systems at Zest WEG.
Dumisani Dlamini, engineer Energy Systems at Zest WEG.

Dlamini says that the main challenge on the project was to incorporate all the functionalities required by EDM into a single compact prefabricated solution while, at the same time, minimising the overall size and mass of the unit to allow it to move along public roads without any special permits being required.

In addition, it had to be able to interface with the most recently developed technology for supervision, control and protection and incorporate advanced safety interlocks, both mechanical and electrical. Secondary plant, such as protection relays and devices, was sourced to be in line with EDM’s substation standards.

Dlamini points out that one of the advantages that Zest WEG has in designing projects of this nature is its ability to build its own enclosures. “We don’t make use of standard containers and therefore are not limited by standard sizes,” he says. “By undertaking our own fabrication, we can produce enclosures which can comfortably house all the components of the switching station without any need for compromises due to space restrictions.”

Dlamini adds that the design adopted by Zest WEG simplifies on-site installation. “The unit is completely pre-tested, prefabricated and pre-wired. In essence, it’s a ‘plug-and-play’ solution which can be rapidly deployed to wherever it is needed. There is no need for any support infrastructure on site, such as a specially prepared laydown area, and also no requirement for any craneage, that you would have with a skid-based solution. This means the switching station can become operational shortly after arriving on site.”

Zest WEG is normally able to supply its mobile switching stations within 28 weeks of receiving an order but, in this case, was able to slightly better this time. “The design and fabrication proceeded very smoothly and we were able to deliver well within the promised timeframe,” says Dlamini.

Commenting on the possible applications for the switching station, Herbst says that EDM stipulated that it should be a self-contained, multi-purpose unit able to accommodate a range of operational scenarios, including working in areas with limited infrastructure.

“It can be used in emergency applications where it replaces an existing switching station that might have failed or it can be used in a standby role where it assists with temporary 33 kV distribution,” he says. “It’s also ideal for routine maintenance projects, where it might replace – for example – a switching station that is temporarily taken off-line. It’s also, of course, suitable for any project under construction which might need a temporary 33 kV network distribution. It’s a simple operation for this unit to tap into an overhead line and feed power directly to the site.”

The mobile system delivered to EDM follows hard on the heels of another recent notable success in Africa, which saw Zest WEG supplying a 50 MVA mobile sub-station, one of the largest ever built in South Africa, as well as a 33 kV mobile switching station, to Electricité de Guinée, the national electricity utility in the West African country of Guinea.

The scope of the turnkey project included three trailers with specialised equipment, one of them being a cable reel trailer with all power and control cabling needed to connect the mobile sub-station and the mobile switching station trailers into an integrated mobile energy system.

“The latest Mozambican order as well as the Guinean project highlight Zest WEG’s ability to design and manufacture mobile solutions for almost any application, anywhere in Africa,” says Herbst. “We believe that there is a significant and growing demand for solutions of this type given that the continent’s electrical infrastructure is growing very rapidly. These contracts clearly underline our ability to meet this demand.”