Tag Archives: Booyco Engineering


While Booyco Engineering has been designing HVAC systems for South Africa’s rail industry for over three decades, it has also been serving the world’s largest rail players for more than 15 years by meeting their exacting standards including design, development, qualification and documentation.

“Having developed HVAC systems for the defence and mining sector, we understand the requirements for designing and manufacturing products for harsh operating conditions,” says Grant Miller, executive director at Booyco Engineering. “Our customised HVAC solutions for the local rail sector were based on our proven expertise.”

About 15 years ago, the company raised the bar even further working with the large rail multi-nationals based in Europe, the US and China. Its local office of engineers and designers began aligning its engineering design and development processes with international rail industry standards.

“When South Africa’s rail utility started to move towards a more standards-driven approach, we ensured we were up to speed with all the standards and specifications that the world’s leading players required,” says Miller. “This meant that we were already familiar with the way of working required to meet  the demanding standards specified by multi-national rail companies.”

This includes conducting extensive vibration and shock testing, airborne and structure borne noise testing, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing, and high and low temperature and humidity cycling testing specifically to the standards of the rail sector. To fully leverage its expertise, Booyco Engineering’s in-house resources include over R8 million worth of specialised Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software for modelling factors such as the strength of components and structure-borne vibration.

“For instance, these tools allow us to demonstrate to rail companies that our HVAC systems will not transmit vibrations, which could create resonance in the train’s structure,” he says. “Our digital design verification using CFD and FEA allows us to ensure that the physical tests conducted are more or less a formality, saving both time and money.”

Among the global rail standards against which Booyco Engineering has qualified its HVAC products are EN14750 thermal comfort in urban and suburban rolling stock, EN14813 thermal comfort in driving cabs, EN13129 thermal comfort in main line rolling stock, EN61373 for shock and vibration tests, EN15085 for welding qualification, EN50155 for the electronic equipment qualification and EN50121 for EMC compliance testing, all of which are standards developed specifically for the rail industry.

Once the big global players could see the company’s level of professionalism and conformity with the highest standards, it was also asked to design a cooling tower for an electric locomotive. To date, it is the only South African firm which has successfully designed and manufactured this equipment locally, adding significantly to the railway’s South African local content targets.

“Stepping down and converting the catenary voltage in a locomotive generates considerable heat of up to 400 kW,” he says. “Our cooling tower design is capable of effectively ejecting that heat in a +50°C ambient through the radiators at an airflow rate of 10 cubic metres per second.”

He highlights that the cooling tower order was another important indicator of the company’s extensive local design and manufacturing capacity, placing it in a strong position to serve the country’s needs while meeting global industry standards.


Reliable air conditioning systems in large mobile equipment on mines, quarries and bulk earthworks sites can make the difference between profit and loss; it all comes down to good maintenance, according to Booyco Engineering.

Weather and humidity can be extreme in many parts of southern Africa, with temperatures fluctuating from minus 10 degrees to 40 degrees Celsius, and humidity levels reaching 95%. Booyco Engineering managing director Brenton Spies says these factors, combined with harsh operating conditions on remote sites, raise the risk of unexpected work stoppages.

“Not only do these conditions place heavy demands on climate control systems, they can also seriously undermine productivity when these systems fail,” says Spies. 

He highlights that in many situations an operator is entitled to ‘down tools’ if environmental conditions in the cab are not conducive to health and safety. 

“This means that the whole operation is dependent on functional and efficient air conditioning,” he says. “Achieving this through regular and professional maintenance is not difficult, but many companies do not give this work the priority that it deserves.”

He disputes that it is a financial issue, because the actual cost of good maintenance pales into insignificance compared to the cost – and reputational risk – associated with load and haul equipment standing idle during an unplanned breakdown. Something as simple as a clogged filter presents a safety risk, and keeping it clean minimises the risk of fire, short circuits and malfunctions.

“Avoiding downtime is not the only reason for conducting scheduled maintenance,” he notes. “Well-maintained air conditioning equipment is also more energy efficient – so it delivers ongoing savings to the operation while performing better for the operator.”

It also adds to the life of the air conditioner, reducing overall cost of ownership. When this equipment is maintained properly, argues Spies, it can last up to 15 years. 

The key is to engage the right skills and experience to conduct the work, and to have a plan in place to ensure it is carried out regularly. This requires a technician qualified to work on pressurised refrigerant systems, who understands how these systems are best applied in harsh working conditions.

“Booyco Engineering has decades of experience in designing and building these climate control systems from the ground up – customised for specific applications,” he says. “This puts us in a unique position to support and maintain this equipment through its life cycle.”

The company has a range of maintenance offerings. A monthly service involves cleaning of return and fresh air filters, checking for leaks and functional HVAC testing, while a bi-monthly service also includes blowing out the condenser coil. In a three-monthly service, a chemical cleaning of the condenser is done, as well as checking of wiring, fasteners, V-belt tension, gas leaks and refrigerant pressures. In an annual service, a compressor oil level check is added, and a chemical cleaning of the evaporator coil.

“We can provide service level agreements for customers, after surveying their equipment and advising on the appropriate maintenance schedule,” he says. “We offer all customers a 24/7 service, 365 days a year, with response time of just 12 hours where there is not an MOS in place.”


Specialists in robust, custom-engineered air-conditioning systems, Booyco Engineering is now driving the expansion of its service offering in the mining sector following the proven success of its products in this demanding industry.

The company has been a leader in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) solutions for decades, supplying extensively to the rail, defence and mining industries. Booyco Engineering managing director Brenton Spies says the expansion of its mining footprint will help mines improve their vehicle uptime while further enhancing health and safety performance. 

“Keeping mine vehicle operators cool in the heat of a mining site is crucial to health, safety and operational efficiency,” says Spies. “Standard air-conditioning systems, however, seldom stand the test of time, leading to unexpected failure and unplanned downtime.”

Among the factors causing early failure are hotter-than-average ambient temperatures, high dust levels, heavy vibrations, shocks from uneven mine haul roads and long operating hours. Grant Miller, Booyco Engineering’s executive director, points to the danger of drivers working in an over-heated cab, should an air-conditioning system fail. 

“This is not only a danger to the health of the driver, but could affect other workers and infrastructure on the mine if the cab conditions cause the vehicle to be driven unsafely,” says Miller. “Fortunately, many countries including South Africa apply regulations to ensure safe working conditions – so an operator could be entitled to cease work if the cab becomes over-heated.”

The result is that a machine could stand idle, waiting for repairs to the air-conditioning unit while costing hundreds of thousands in lost production for the mine. He says there are two aspects to avoiding this risk: installing fit-for-purpose HVAC equipment on mining vehicles; and applying a regular and high quality maintenance schedule. 

“This is where Booyco Engineering has proved itself to our mining customers,” says Miller. “We engineer the HVAC solution to suit the miner or contractor’s application, and we ensure that the equipment is well maintained.”

The company’s design and support capability has been developed over more than 35 years, employing the latest software and specialised tools in its 3,000 m2 Meadowdale facility. Its technical support services allow customers to rely on Booyco Engineering for a planned maintenance programme for their HVAC systems.

“Few mining operations have the skills to conduct this specialised work professionally on a regular basis,” says Spies. “Where the mine is large enough to warrant an on-site technician or team, we can put that in place as part of a maintenance contract to ensure that all HVAC systems continue performing optimally.”

He says the company can also provide regular site visits to conduct inspections and maintenance, and has a roving team available for ad-hoc call outs. Booyco Engineering’s rich heritage in HVAC design and maintenance makes it the ideal partner for mines looking to ensure reliable and uninterrupted operations, he says. 


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.