After significant upgrades and expansions to its manufacturing facility at Potchefstroom, leading gypsum supplier OMV has boosted its supply capacity while improving its gypsum quality.

OMV produces synthetic gypsum from the phosphate waste-product of the fertilizer industry, supplying the cement, agricultural and industrial sectors. According to OMV mechanical engineer Marinus van den Berg, the company has upgraded and automated its washing plant, while also adding a kiln drier and a calcining plant.

“The redesign of the washing plant included changing to a continuous lime batching system,” van den Berg says. “This improves the controllability of the process and the product quality. Standard deviations of the pH levels – a primary control parameter – are now down to 0,2 pH points.”

The washing plant upgrade meant full automation and higher availability. It also included a completely new laboratory, now staffed with a chemical engineer and chemical technician to focus on quality control. He emphasises the peace of mind that comes with a product of consistent quality. For industrial customers in particular, a dependable standard means less need to adjust their process in response to variabilities in the gypsum feed.

A key enhancement of the gypsum facility has been the addition of a rotary drying kiln. This allows reliable supply to customers even during the rainy months.

“The kiln reduces the moisture content in our gypsum by an extra 10%,” he says. “This has made our year-round supply more reliable, while the drier material also saves on road transport costs.”

An important part of the technology employed in the kiln is optimised fuel economy for lower carbon emissions. Along with the kiln installation has come the construction of an undercover gypsum warehouse with 30,000 tonne capacity. Dedicated stockpiles within the warehouse further enhance the customer experience.

“All these facilities operate within our total quality management system,” he says. “We continually optimise processes so we can pass the cost savings on to customers.”

Most recently completed is the calcining plant, which adds value to the gypsum product by producing a high quality Plaster of Paris. After extensive research into available technologies, OMV was able to construct and commission the plant in less than a year. It has also enhanced certain automation elements in the calciner.

“Once again, our focus has been on low process variability,” says van den Berg. “Through strict controllability, we have achieved high-quality and consistent output to open new markets.”

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