Category Archives: Client Focus

SUPPLY CHAIN EXCELLENCE AT WEIR MINERALS’ KITWE BRANCH

As Weir Minerals Africa’s hub for central and east Africa, the newly upgraded Kitwe facility in Zambia is offering customers world class supply chain efficiency.

The branch officially opened in early 2018 and boasts a state-of-the-art logistics and supply chain management systems to match those at the company’s main distribution hub in Alrode near Johannesburg.

“Our Kitwe branch now has a 100% location-controlled warehouse that runs off our enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with Wi-Fi-enabled scanners in place. This has resulted in the achievement of inventory accuracy rates in the high 90s,” says Luhann Holtzhausen, Weir Minerals Africa supply chain director. “The technology and technical capacity in this facility enables us to pick and bin items in real time. This will match any other system that customers may have seen globally and is also a benchmark within Zambia.”

The new warehouse is all under one roof, with high visibility through natural and artificial lighting, where every product is clearly labelled with bin location and barcodes for easy tracking. Shelving of up to three metres high keeps all items neatly stacked, easy to identify and quick to retrieve.

“The right goods in the right quantity in the right place means that when a customer asks for an item, we know that we have it and can find it without delays,” he says.

As part of the company’s operation-wide system, the stockholding of the Kitwe warehouse can be viewed in real time by the supply chain management team in Johannesburg. Holtzhausen emphasises the importance of the ERP system’s ability to track trends in customer usage in a systematic and methodical manner, to avoid any stock-outs on mine sites. Particularly at remote mines that take time to reach, lack of timeous access to spare parts and equipment can be costly in terms of operational downtime.

“In addition to the high accuracy of our data on warehouse inventory, our systems also give us end-to-end velocity measurement to monitor the flow of goods from receipt at our warehouses to the actual time of delivery at the customer’s location,” he says.

Weir Minerals Africa has 75 stocking locations across the southern and central African region, and ships nearly 100,000 items each year from its main distribution hub in Alrode near Johannesburg.

STAINLESS STEEL SUBMERSIBLE PUMPS EXCEL IN CORROSIVE CONDITIONS

Nothing beats a fully cast stainless steel pump for resilience and reliability when faced with a corrosive environment, contaminated water and abrasive solids.

“A protective coating on your standard submersible drainage and sludge pump will only protect your pump until the first scratch,” warns Integrated Pump Technology managing director Colin Adams. “After that, acidity and abrasion can destroy standard pumps in a matter of weeks or even days.”

The Grindex INOX series of pumps – distributed in Africa by Integrated Pump Technology – are made of acid-proof stainless steel to operate reliably in pH levels ranging from 2 to 10. This makes them ideal for mines, shipyards, power plants and other worksites that deal with corrosive water, salt water or sludge. All INOX pumps can even be equipped with zinc anodes for extra protection.

The Minette INOX to the Master INOX drainage pumps are designed for pumping water with abrasive particles in suspension, up to the size of the strainer holes. The Salvador INOX to the Sandy INOX sludge pumps specialise in pumping water with a high content of solids, up to the size of the pump inlet opening diameter. They can pump water with abrasive particles, different types of mud and sludge, or even light slurry.

The Mega Inox – based on the well-proven cast-iron Mega pump platform – is also manufactured completely in stainless steel. The power of this unit makes it ideal for operation in deep excavations where very high head pumping is needed.

Features that make these stainless steel pumps unique include SMART motor protection that prevents damage caused by power failures, an air valve that cools the pump should it run dry, and an outer casing in corrugated stainless steel to handle rough treatment.

The casted acid-proof stainless steel impeller ensures pumping capacities in corrosive fluids, while the diffusers in the drainage pumps are rubber-lined and adjustable to maintain optimum pumping performance. In the sludge pumps, the rubber-lined pump housing is highly abrasive resistant and oil-resistant for longer life. The Grindex INOX model even offers double mechanical shaft seals, with an oil compartment between the seals.

While the INOX stainless steel range is an exciting new innovation in drainage and sludge pump applications, Grindex has been designing and manufacturing electrical submersible pumps for some 50 years. Over 300,000 of these pumps have been supplied in more than 100 countries.

SOUTH AFRICA TECH TIE-UP TAKES PROXIMITY DETECTION TO NEW HEIGHTS

Proximity detection systems (PDS) specialist Booyco Electronics is once again raising the bar for safety, quality and local content in the mining sector, through a technology collaboration with fellow South African supplier Mernok Elektronik and Selectronic.

Anton Lourens, managing director of Booyco Electronics, says the companies are cooperating to bring the substantial advantages of new generation technology to the PDS market. Significantly, Booyco Electronics pioneered the use of PDS in South Africa and today has around 5,000 of its PDS units in the field, which have delivered over a million hours of service to date.

“The experience we have gathered in the field with our existing technology has informed the direction of more recent technology, and this collaboration agreement allows quicker development and rollout of technology,” says Lourens.

According to Mernok Elektronik founder and managing director Schalk Janse van Rensburg, his company’s strength lies in its in-house design and engineering capability. “This expertise, which we have been developing for over ten years, drives our research and development efforts,” says Janse van Rensburg. “The result is a world class product range developed for the specific needs of the South African mining sector.”

With its extensive branch footprint developed over the past 13 years, Booyco Electronics will ensure that the new generation technology is within reach of customers and is constantly supported. The company’s strategically located service facilities are manned by trained field technicians, capable of both installing and supporting hi-tech equipment.

“Our proven levels of field support will ensure that the technology benefits of the latest PDS design are translated into bottom-line and safety benefits for our mining customers,” says Lourens.

The collaboration also recognises the value of greater localisation in the mining supply chain, in line with the requirements of the Mining Charter. Together, these two South African companies are able to further enhance their respective contributions to local economic development by promoting the country’s technology advancement and skills growth.

Lourens highlights that regulatory compliance has been an important factor in driving the application of PDS in mining. All products are therefore certified in terms of Department of Mineral Resources requirements.

SMART SENSING SOLUTIONS FOR SHUTTLE SYSTEMS

The volatility and competitiveness of markets in the e-commerce sector have caused somewhat of a conundrum in intralogistics. On the one hand, increasing volumes of parcels need to be shipped necessitating increased order picking with associated processing. On the other hand, smaller orders cause growing uncertainty for the manufacturer or stockist and can impact forward planning. As a result, procurement, production and distribution become considerably more complex.

This scenario demands a high level of communication between all disciplines and makes the implementation of Industry 4.0 more important than ever for intralogistics. This, in turn, calls for smart sensing solution to be applied across the intralogistics field allowing access to accurate information at all times.

Gerry Bryant, managing director of Countapulse Controls, says the modern shuttle solution has grown in popularity in intralogistics and in tandem with this the need for smart sensing solutions capable of providing the level of accuracy required in a fast moving operation.

“The increasing using of shuttles makes sense as they are extremely flexible, dynamic and, not least, also resource-friendly with regard to space utilisation and energy consumption,” he says. “For systems such as these, reliable, space saving sensors are needed for fine positioning, for the detection of free spaces, presence monitoring and for collision prevention.”

Countapulse Controls, as the official southern African distributor of Leuze sensing solutions, offers a range of technologically superior sensors capable of meeting the exacting requirements within this sector. The high-end solutions can be configured to meet the operating parameters in individual applications in all areas of intralogistics, and the significant advantage of this is that the solution is from a single source.

Bryant cites as an example, Leuze optical distance sensors which are used in shuttle systems for compartment occupation checks, collision protection or positioning applications. These smart sensors have a high tolerance to colour and material differences, and offer precise surface and angle detection making for reliable operation.

These sensors function reliably even in changing environmental conditions or materials as well as with various object detection angles. This is particularly useful with objects that are not exactly aligned or that are being rapidly transported. As a result, detection errors are avoided and complicated readjustment is eliminated.

Leuze optical distance sensors provide an IO-Link interface ensuring that diagnostic data is transferred in real time. This provides a timeous alert to any impending failure, for example excessive soiling of goods being handled or misalignment.

In addition to these measuring distance sensors, miniaturised sensors, such as photoelectric sensors and light diffuse sensors, are ideal for use in shuttles. This is due to the limited available space and typically installed on the outer edge of the shuttle where overhang controls can be implemented simply but very effectively.

Countapulse Controls has an in-depth understanding of the application of 21st century sensing technology in local operations, and can assist customers to leverage the advantages that these will bring in terms of flexibility, agility and increased productivity.

RFI GETS BOSCH SERVICE CENTRE OF THE YEAR AWARD

By earning the coveted award of Bosch Service Centre of the Year, Reef Fuel Injection Services has been recognised for its quality workmanship and responsiveness to customers.

Beyond customer satisfaction, the award also acknowledges that authorised Bosch Service centres maintain the highest technical competence, with world class workshop diagnostics and test equipment, including the know-how to optimise its use.

Among the assessments conducted by Bosch when evaluating a service centre is an audit on the service (SQA) as well as an audit on the quality of the tooling (SQT) in place. Reef Fuel Injection Services invests significantly in maintaining its equipment and tooling, and is among the most comprehensively equipped diesel fuel injection service centres.

The workshop grading for the award is conducted every two years through monitoring by Bosch, and also assesses service delivery and fair pricing, proving that Reef Fuel Injection Services offers value for money.

“While many customers may assume a fuel injector is at fault when they experience issues with a vehicle, we go the extra mile to ensure all the problems within the system are resolved,” says Warren Hauser from Reef Fuel Injection Services. “It is heartening to get this recognition of our attention to detail from partners like Bosch.”

The award considers the level of parts availability and on-time delivery, and encourages service centres to regularly send staff for technical training on the latest Bosch technology. The attendance at a minimum number of Bosch training courses is obligatory for workshop associates, with a minimum number of training sessions required to keep staff up to date with the latest technological developments.

Reef Fuel Injection Services boasts one of the highest number of artisans attending the different Bosch fuel system repair and remanufacturing training courses over any given year. This commitment to upskilling its personnel ensures that its technical team is always at the top of its game.

“Our quality service ensures genuine Bosch parts are always used as this is critical to not only the reputation of our facility but also the longevity of the repair itself,” says Hauser. “We take a zero-tolerance approach to the use of genuine parts as well as the quality of workmanship we render.”

Reef Fuel Injection Services is an authorised service agent for all leading manufacturers of diesel fuel injection systems, including Bosch, Delphi, Denso and Stanadyne.

NATIONAL ASPHALT INSTALLS NEW, MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PLANT AT LAEZONIA

The in-house design of National Asphalt’s new asphalt plant at its Laezonia site north of Johannesburg will give customers the comfort of lower environmental impact while still enjoying competitive pricing of asphalt supply.

The 120 tonne capacity plant, which has boosted the company’s capability in the region, incorporates several tried-and-tested improvements based on the company’s extensive industry experience. According to Dave Bennett, general manager at National Asphalt, among these is better burner fuel efficiency and reduced hydrocarbon emissions.

“The plant design reduces emissions from the combined aggregates, efficiently burning this up before it goes to the bag house,” Bennett says. “This gives our new installation a far cleaner and environmentally friendly stack than a conventional plant.”

Dust is removed using both a pre-cleaner and a bag house. In the pre-cleaner, material sized between 0,6 mm and up to 2 mm is dropped into a rotary valve, from where carefully controlled volumes are fed back into the plant. Material smaller than 0,3 mm, and right down to 0,075 mm, is caught in bags, removed using pulsing and similarly fed back into production.

Recognising the growing importance of using recycled asphalt (RA), the innovative design of the new National Asphalt plant employs efficient heating methods to reduce environmental impact as well as fuel costs.

While many plants in the market use super-heated virgin aggregate to heat the RA, the super-heating process consumes considerable fuel resources. Significantly, the design installed at the National Asphalt Laezonia plant does away with the requirement to super-heat. This has been done by ‘scavenging’ heat through both conductive and radiant heat transfer to the RA and the combined mix.

“The plant is built according to specifications developed by National Asphalt over time, and which represent the best value to our customers,” Bennett says. “Asphalt users in and around Gauteng can now benefit from the increased efficiency, economy and environmental benefits of our new facility,” he concludes.

MORE PLANT UPTIME WITH WEIR MINERALS’ ROBUST, FIT-FOR-PURPOSE VALVES

Abrasive and corrosive slurry can quickly wear out valves and cause costly downtime, unless mines insist on quality OEM (original equipment manufacturer) products that are engineered specifically for their application.

“With our comprehensive range of slurry valves, we can help customers select the right equipment to suit the pressure of their system, the chemical make-up of their slurries, and the physical nature of the solids they process,” says Ronald Govender, general manager – process equipment at Weir Minerals Africa. “We can provide the right wear options, actuation mechanisms and control accessories that will ensure optimal plant uptime.”

Weir Minerals’ Isogate® range of slurry valves is proven to be reliable and versatile, operating under wide pressure and temperature ranges. For longer life, valve sleeves come in a variety of materials including genuine Linatex® premium abrasion-resistant natural rubber. To reduce downtime and overall cost of ownership, all wear parts are easily replaced in the field.

The range includes mechanical pinch valves, with open or closed body, and pneumatic pinch valves with one-piece sleeve or two-piece liner. Isogate® knife gate valves are known for their heavy duty performance, even in coarse slurries, with pressure ratings from 10 to 51 bar. The Isogate® knife gate slurry valves are uniquely designed with both ease of maintenance and low overall cost of ownership in mind and are engineered to handle the harshest and most abrasive process flow conditions.

Weir Minerals’ check valves are single, non-return units that benefit from 20 years of in-field experience in the most arduous slurry applications. Autoball® valves, which are actuated with differential pressures, enable quick changeover between duty and standby pumps.

“An exciting addition to our offering is the Delta Industrial™ range of knife gate valves, which set the standard for high performance in slurries,” says Govender. “These valves guarantee zero leakage, due to their unique transverse seal and shear gate design.”

The innovative design protects the primary elastomer seal from the slurry flow to avoid wear, while a precision-machined metal seat provides a secondary seal. The transverse seal features an upper and lower scraper, with an elastomer that is energised by a pliable compound – even while the valve is in service. Designed for the most demanding processes, Delta Industrial™ valves have been in use for over two decades in mill circuits, tailings transport, mineral separation and leaching applications for slurries up to 120 bar working pressure.

“We bring a full basket of valve solutions to customers,” he says. “Other valves in our liquid service range include butterfly, diaphragm, globe and trunnion-mounted ball valves.”

MENTIS RS40 (40/40) IS THE STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY CHAMPION IN FLOOR GRATING

Mentis Rectgrid RS40 (40/40) has long been the structural integrity champion of locally manufactured floor gratings. As the single largest producer of floor grating in Africa, Andrew Mentis understands the critical role that the load bearing capacity of this product plays in ensuring a safe working environment for personnel.

Mentis Rectagrid RS40 (40/40) floor grating has been manufactured and used by both South African and international companies for more than 65 years. This highly engineered floor grating product, produced at Andrew Mentis’ world class facility at Elandsfontein, Johannesburg, is manufactured using a pressure locking system pioneered by the company.

Quality control during the manufacturing process ensures that close tolerances are maintained and this is significant as these tolerances and standards have been adopted for use by most leading grating manufacturers worldwide.

The production process ensures that the round transverse bar fits tightly through the pierced bearer bar. This not only guarantees the superior structural integrity of the product, but also eliminates vulnerability to corrosion. To further ensure optimum reliability in corrosive environments, floor grating can be hot dip galvanised or manufactured in stainless steel or 3CR12

All transverse bars are 7.6 mm in diameter and all panels finish on half pitches in both directions with allowance for 4 mm clearance between panels, known as the Open End System. Saddle clamps automatically hold panels at full pitching space when installed.

Floor grating is used in a wide variety of applications including access walkways on process plants and in factories and manufacturing facilities.

MAKING ROADS AND BRIDGES LAST LONGER WITH AFRISAM

Construction materials leader AfriSam leverages the power of applied research to make roads, bridges and other concrete structures more resistant to corrosive environments.

Among its long term research is a project assessing the effects of highly corrosive environments on concretes, and how different proportions and types of raw materials can mitigate these impacts.

According to Nithia Pillay, AfriSam’s national product technical manager for construction materials, the research is part of a continuous effort to improve the performance and longevity of civils structures and buildings.

“The ongoing, proactive monitoring that we conduct as part of our quality control function also forms an important part of the company’s product development cycle,” says Pillay. “The data we generate gives us the scientific and experiential basis to constantly develop new innovations.”

Results from these tests feed into dedicated computer software, allowing architects and contractors to specify the appropriate grade of concrete to suit their project’s environmental conditions. In this way, the company’s investment in expertise and systems to sustain quality products also positions it well to conduct and coordinate valuable research.

“In collaboration with customers, universities and other bodies, we explore the properties of cements, supplementary cementitious materials, aggregates and concrete,” he says. “By actively mapping quarry rock type and quality, blasted material is expertly paired with appropriate applications.”

For instance, roadstone is supplied to the specific grading, shape and wearing properties required for asphalt and road surfacing applications.

“The material we supply for layer works, such as the base and sub-base materials, must provide the interlocking support structure in road design, with the different categories of graded material catering for varying load designs,” says Pillay.

As the leaders in Durability Index Testing, AfriSam has developed a detailed understanding of how constituent materials – as well as site practices such as compacting and curing – impact on the durability and performance of concrete. This testing is conducted in its Centre of Product Excellence laboratory, which makes itself commercially available as a service to the construction industry.

“The Durability Index Tests that are being designed and applied to concrete and civil infrastructure are based on key parameters that allow the structure’s design life to be predicted and prolonged,” he says.

The integrity of the data being collected is vital to the value of the research. It is therefore significant that the plant laboratories at AfriSam’s cement, aggregate and readymix operations around the country are all ISO 9001-certified.

LOCALLY MANUFACTURED MULTOTEC TROMMEL SCREEN FOR TRONOX BRAND SE BAAI SITE

South African Original Equipment Manufacturer, Multotec won a tender from Tronox’s Namakwa Sands to replace a trommel at the mine’s Primary Concentration Plant East (PCPE) at its Brand se Baai site on the West Coast.

Greta Mantell, technical sales representative at Multotec Manufacturing, says the scope of supply included the trommel screen, screen panels and ancillary equipment which formed part of the installation at the PCPE.

“What was essential on this particular project was that the new Multotec trommel would replicate the exact process functionality of the old unit and provide the same level of operational performance and reliability as the old screen had for the past 12 years,” Mantell says.

In this application, the Multotec trommel screen is used to classify East Mine Run-of-Mine (ROM) by size and discharge the oversize to the tailings conveyor. The undersize is processed as normal. Significantly, this screen is the only piece of equipment operating in the ROM processing circuit for which there is no standby or bypass alternative.

Tronox’s PCPE uses sea water for its processes and this, together with operating in the harsh West Coast environment, meant that corrosion protection was a priority on the trommel. It has been supplied with replaceable polyurethane shell protectors as well as a high performance corrosion protection paint on all the non-rubberised surfaces. The trommel screen is fitted with Spalto polyurethane panels selected to ensure optimum throughput and wear life.

With a focus on improving total cost of ownership, Multotec implemented its innovative one-side fitting of screen panels on the trommel, and Mantell says this will facilitate quicker panel changeouts saving on costs. As panel maintenance now only needs to be executed from the inside, safety will also be enhanced during this activity.

The new Multotec trommel is 7,2 metres long and has a diameter of 2,5 metres. The total mass of the trommel, including panels, is 12,5 tonnes.

The new trommel was delivered on time and installation was done by the mine with Multotec handling the commissioning. Mantell says that after trouble free installation, the trommel screen immediately operated at 95% of its design capacity and one day later full feed of 1000 tph was maintained.