Tag Archives: sandvik mining and Rock Solutions

AUTOMATION FOR SANDVIK SURFACE DRILLS

Making mines safer and more productive has long been the strategic intention of mine automation, and surface drill rigs are now part of this technological evolution.

According to Kabelo Nkoana, Business Line Manager for Automation and Digitisation at Sandvik Southern Africa, AutoMine® is available for Sandvik i-Series models in the company’s intelligent range of down-the-hole top hammer and rotary blast hole drill rigs. Mining customers in southern Africa have been embracing the functionality, and reporting positive results.

“Sandvik AutoMine® system essentially replicates the machine control system to enable remote automation over the mine’s Wi-Fi network,” he says. “There is an awareness that safety could be compromised when rigs are operating close to a highwall, or when there are unstable geological conditions on the bench. Automating a drill rig in these conditions is an important contributor to safety.”

Sandvik’s i-Series machines come standard with features such as the onboard data collection unit technology for engine operation and other major components. Various operational and machine health data from the sensors are collected in the OEM’s Knowledge Box, and transmitted to cloud storage for analysis and real time reporting to support informed and accurate decision making. This creates the foundation for the automation process, which also enhances reliability and performance.

Nkoana explains that the machines’ extensive sensing capability – where it is picking up valuable data about its working environment – allows it to operate autonomously within its design limits.

“This means that it will respond quickly to changes in its drilling conditions – in the properties of the rock it is drilling, for instance,” he says. “By not exceeding its limitations, its operating behaviour will extend the life of consumables and components, generally leading to a lower total operational cost.”

Having been in operation for over two decades, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ AutoMine® system today plays an integral role in making mining safer and more efficient. It is installed in more than 100 mines worldwide, with a positive impact on safety. The automated equipment operating AutoMine® system has logged more than five million Lost-Time-Injury-Free (LTIF) hours.

The company is also incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into its next generation AutoMine® system solutions, with the launch of its concept loader and underground drill. These innovations make use of perception-sensing technologies to detect obstacles, and can make decisions about its movements when there is a person or other manual equpment in their proximity.

Nkoana highlights that mines in southern Africa are gradually moving toward ‘smart mining’ through digital monitoring and control, as well as automation. The process, however, needs to be well planned and gradual – with all stakeholders buying into the successful implementation of the concept.

EMBRACING INTELLIGENCE IN UNDERGROUND DRILLING

The world of underground drilling technology is undergoing a significant transformation. This evolution promises not only enhanced precision and productivity but also a wealth of detailed operational data. Moreover, it offers the potential for safer drilling practices through remote control. One company leading the charge in this revolution is Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, offering a wide range of underground drill rigs and bolters. Customers are progressively embracing intelligent drilling, with a growing interest in battery electric models for the future.

Khomotso Duiker, Business Line Manager for Underground Drills at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, reveals that the Sandvik 400 Series and the Sandvik 300 Series now feature intelligent models. These innovations are driven by Sandvik’s iSURE® Intelligent Sandvik Underground Rock Excavation software, enabling automated drilling cycles.

“In Southern Africa, some forward-thinking diamond mining customers are already reaping the benefits, using the DD422i development drill rigs, as well as the DL422i and DL432i top hammer longhole drill rigs,” he says.

Duiker cautions that integrating intelligent technology into drilling operations is not without its challenges and says that Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions collaborates closely with customers during this transformative phase, offering training and support. Sandvik’s Product Masters, experts in the equipment, play a vital role in facilitating the introduction of cutting-edge machines. Additionally, Sandvik’s in-house training department ensures operators and maintenance teams receive the necessary guidance.

“Understanding the full potential of automated functions is crucial for operators. These functions not only enhance safety but also boost productivity. The level of automation can vary from individual machines to entire fleets, with some machines capable of completing development ends without any operator intervention,” Duiker says.

One remarkable feature of Sandvik’s intelligent machine models is their ability to download the mine’s drill plan for development ends and execute drilling precisely according to that plan. This optimisation leads to more effective blasting, eliminating issues like underbreak or overbreak.

Remote control capabilities are another highlight. The tele-remote function allows drilling operations to be controlled from the surface, provided there is sufficient on-site network infrastructure. To facilitate this transition, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has a dedicated Business Line Manager overseeing automation initiatives.

Monitoring equipment performance has become critical for mining operations, and Sandvik’s drill rigs come equipped with the Knowledge Box™, gathering valuable data such as advance speed, penetration rate and cycle times. The data, collected by iSURE®, can be leveraged to optimise work cycles and improve the drill and blast excavation process through targeted reports and analysis.

Duiker says that while data connectivity is essential, most mines are already addressing this requirement. “Operators can track rig performance from a control room, identifying signs of underperformance or potential failures in real-time. This data empowers mines to make necessary improvements, be it in operator behaviour or machine condition, all of which is aimed at increasing productivity and uptime.”

Sandvik’s dedication to sustainability also extends to supporting Small Medium Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in South Africa. The company actively facilitates the extraction of carbide buttons from its drill bits in partnership with SMMEs, fostering entrepreneurship and job creation. This initiative contributes to a circular economy by recycling tungsten carbide buttons from drill bits, reducing energy consumption by 70 percent and cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 64 percent when manufacturing tools. This aligns perfectly with the principles of sustainability and environmental responsibility.

AUTOMINE(R) CORE PLATFORM TO SUPPORT RAMP-UP FROM MANUAL TO AUTONOMOUS MINING

With its focus on innovation in mining, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has introduced AutoMine® Core, a comprehensive automation platform for mass mining applications.

According to David Hallett, Vice President: Automation at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, the platform supports customers ramping up from manual operation to fully autonomous production. Three trends drive innovation in the mining sector, says Hallett: electrification, digitalisation and automation. 

“When it comes to automation in particular, the focus is on improving productivity and safety,” he says. “Safety considerations include how people can be removed from hazardous environments, as well as gaining more productivity by operating during a shift change, for example.”

As automated machines operate in a more controlled manner than those in manual operations, there is also a significant reduction in total cost of ownership with regards to equipment, he notes. The launch of AutoMine® Core builds on the success of AutoMine®’s Fleet and Manual Production Monitoring (MPM) offerings, which are used in over 100 mines globally. Some mines have been able to reduce their fleets by up to 50% through efficiency gains with automation. There have also been reports of 55% increases in production.

“AutoMine Core is a combination of 20 years of experience built on our AutoMine Fleet and MPM products,” he says. “We have now consolidated our systems under one platform, ensuring that our systems are interoperable, which greatly benefits our customers.” 

A unique feature that differentiates AutoMine® Core is its advanced traffic management system that enables operators to easily control the traffic flow of multi-machine operations. It allows them to handle complex operating situations, resulting in greater flexibility and mining output. Hallet adds that the platform allows a fleet interface with secondary or external systems – such as crushers – that are available in the area.

Furthermore, the AutoMine® Core platform is designed to accommodate multiple levels of interoperability for third-party OEMs. The platform’s safety system allows miners to segment large extraction areas, allowing the simultaneous operations of both manual and automated equipment.  Hallett highlights that a large part of the success of the company’s automation offerings is based on working closely with its customers and understanding their unique requirements. 

“We engage with key customers in the early stages of our product development and engineering, incorporating their feedback and input into new solutions,” he explains. “This close relationship allows us to develop products that can address the majority of the needs within the market.” 

SANDVIK BUILDS ITS BASE TO GROW LIFECYCLE SCREENING SOLUTIONS ACROSS AFRICA

To provide customers with screening solutions that suit their needs and fit their infrastructure, OEMs must be close at hand with the right facilities and expertise, according to Mats Dahlberg, Sandvik’s Vice President for Screening Solutions in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

This is a key element of the strategy being rolled out in Africa by Sandvik Rock Processing, as it takes a leading position in bringing customers innovative solutions for the full lifecycle of screening equipment. The extensive footprint of the Sandvik group on the continent is being leveraged, with entities being empowered with training and extra resources to support its full range of screens.

“Our screening offering now includes a wide range of capacities and applications, which we can support through our strong presence in Africa,” says Dahlberg. “A strategic priority is being close enough to customers to understand their requirements in detail, and customise solutions to align with existing site infrastructure.”

“This requires a strong local presence and technical competencies, along with a regional supply chain for better responsiveness,” he says. “This can be achieved alongside the global commonality of screen components, which ensures customers of a safe, reliable and tested product.”

Sandvik already has registered entities in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso, and a distributor in Mozambique. Tarynn Yatras, Vice President of Sales Area Africa for Sandvik Rock Processing Solutions, highlights that the company has already begun employing more resources to strengthen the technical capability of these entities in the field of screening.

“We are also able to hold higher volumes of spares and components in-country, for instance, reducing lead times for customers,” says Yatras. “Customers of all our screen ranges and brands have started to see the benefit of our enhanced in-country support.”

SAM by Sandvik is expected to play a more important role as a digital platform through which customers can receive remote support and other digital services. Local manufacture of screens has also been an important feature of the company’s expansion strategy in Africa. The Sandvik Rock Processing facility in South Africa is the first one globally within Sandvik to be capable of producing all the company’s screen product lines. It has also begun producing original Sandvik screens and feeders for local customers.

As a leading global screening solutions media supplier, the strategic focus in Africa will also include strengthening the existing local manufacturing capability and supply chain for screening media. 

SANDVIK FASTPLANT™ FOR MALI-BASED LIMESTONE PRODUCER

A leading limestone producer based in Kati, Mali, has taken delivery of a FastPlant™ from Sandvik Rock Processing Solutions. Central to the buying decision was the short lead time of the Sandvik FastPlant™, which allowed the operation to expand production sooner, especially given the fast-tracked nature of this project. 

Hubert Kwesi Essel, Sales Engineer at Sandvik Rock Processing Solutions based in West Africa, explains that the customer has been running an existing Sandvik fixed plant for years, but increased demand required a different solution. Given the urgency with which the company wanted to expand its capacity, the Sandvik FastPlant™ concept was the ultimate solution to add capacity within a short period of time. 

“The customer opted for a 200 tonnes per hour (tph) two-stage FastPlant, which is a range of pre-defined crushing and screening modules made for the most common quarrying and mining applications. Delivery of a Sandvik FastPlant generally takes about 10 to 12 weeks, as opposed to double or thrice the timeline for a custom-built plant,” explains Essel. “This particular plant, however, took about 20 weeks due to shipping and logistical delays from Europe to Mali.”

The plant comprises a full suite of Sandvik equipment including a grizzly feeder, a jaw crusher, a horizontal shaft impactor (HIS) and a four-deck screen. With a 100 mm closed side setting (CSS), the Sandvik ST1263H vibrating grizzly feeder, which takes a top size of up to 700 mm, ensures efficient scalping and fines removal, significantly improving the throughput of the primary jaw crusher, the Sandvik CJ411. 

“With a close side setting (CSS) of 100 mm, the Sandvik CJ411 was chosen for its high capacity. The crusher’s deep symmetrical crushing chamber and optimised nip angle maximises size reduction and production capacity,” says Essel.  

From the jaw, material goes into a surge bin, which in turn feeds the Sandvik CI722 horizontal shaft impactor (HIS) secondary crusher with a 25 mm CSS, the first ever Sandvik HSI in West Africa. The CI722 is the perfect secondary crusher for non-abrasive material such as limestone. The working principle of the Sandvik CI722 HSI encourages material to break along its natural cleavage planes, and it produces stress-free cubical-shaped products. 

From the HSI, material is directed into a four-deck Sandvik SA2164 screen, with a 25 mm top deck and a 19 mm bottom deck. The other two decks are 13 mm and 5 mm respectively. The screen produces four different product sizes from 0 to 5 mm up to 19 to 25 mm. 

Apart from the fast delivery time, the flexible nature of the Sandvik FastPlant™ was a major appeal for the customer, says Praveen Kumar VG, Sales Support – Global Plant Solutions at Sandvik Rock Processing Solutions.

“If production requirements change in future, it is simple for the customer to just add a couple of modules to increase production or take out a few modules to reduce capacity in line with market requirements,” says Kumar VG. “In addition, the FastPlant’s minimal footprint bodes well for the space-constrained site, while the minimal civil works translated into a major cost benefit for the client.”

Safety, adds Essel, was also a major factor in the client’s decision. “The client was strict about access and the FastPlant™ addressed the concerns through spacious walkways, as well as ample space in the chute aeras for ease of maintenance,” concludes Essel.

SANDVIK’S CARBIDE RECYCLING SUPPORTS SMALL BUSINESS IN SA

In an innovative step that promotes both sustainability and local economic development, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is recycling the carbide buttons on its drill bits while boosting entrepreneurship and creating jobs in South Africa. 

The local initiative is part of a global strategy by the company to continuously improve the circularity of its manufacturing processes, according to Johan Blomerus, Business Line Manager, Rock Tools Southern Africa for Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.

“Our solution combines years of technological development on specialised equipment for automated recycling, and a supplier development intervention to support two small black, youth-owned businesses,” says Blomerus. The businesses, located in the Gauteng and Free State provinces, are expanding to create up to 20 new employment opportunities in coming years. 

He explains that the recycling of used drill bits contributes to the Sandvik group’s ambitious sustainability goals to halve its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. By embedding circularity across an essential component of mining, the group is supporting its customers’ drive to mine more sustainably.

“Making tools from recycled carbide requires 70 percent less energy and emits 64 percent less carbon dioxide,” he says. “It also reduces nitrous oxide emissions.”

The two South African SMMEs (Small Medium Mico Enterprises) appointed to undertake the carbide extraction from drill bits have been equipped with the necessary machinery to make the process safe and cost effective. Since 2016, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has invested nearly R5 million in developing carbide extraction equipment, notes Blomerus. 

“The equipment has been installed and commissioned at their facilities, so they can extract the carbide buttons from the drill bits we deliver to them from our customers,” he says. “We then pay them for the carbide extracted, and they have the added benefit of earning income from the steel bits – which they can sell as scrap.”

As well as the capital equipment and financial support, the SMMEs have received extensive training to ensure safe operation of the dedicated machinery – which was initially developed in South Africa and further improved in Sweden. This automated equipment replaces what was a slow and laborious manual process, providing an efficient business model for the SMMEs. Extracting the carbide in-country means much less weight that has to be exported to Germany, where the highly specialised task of carbide recycling can be conducted.

“Our recycling initiative has been extracting over six tonnes of carbide material annually over the last three to four years,” he says. “And we are planning to ramp up this initiative to operate 24 hours a day, which will allow the recycling of about 22 tonnes a year by the end of 2024.”

Blomerus concludes that Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions will also be rolling out the project to neighbouring countries, including Botswana and Zimbabwe. 

SUPPORTING SOCIAL INVESTMENT THROUGH EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY UPLIFTMENT

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is steadfast in its commitment to making a positive societal impact. This commitment is not just in words, but evident through the company’s unwavering dedication to community involvement, education and transformational projects. These are not just seen as mere initiatives but as strategic investments that yield tangible results for communities.

A testament to this commitment is Sandvik Mining and Rock Solution’s recent partnership with the Adopt-a-School Foundation, specifically with the Modilati Secondary School in Hammanskraal. This alliance strives to transform the educational landscape, ensuring an environment that nurtures teaching and learning.

Under the banner of this partnership, Modilati Secondary School has witnessed significant advancements. Notably, the school achieved a 100% pass rate for science in the 2022 matric class. Steven Lebere, Adopt-a-School Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer, praises the model, highlighting Modilati Secondary School as an exemplar of its potential.

Modilati Secondary School’s journey with the Adopt-a-School Foundation began in 2007, but it’s the recent collaboration with Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions that has accelerated its progress.

Jan Prinsloo, Stakeholder Management Specialist at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, highlights the mutual benefits of such investments. “Helping the world advance through engineering means making a positive societal impact as we strengthen our brand,” he says.

Prinsloo further emphasises that this involvement aligns with Sandvik Mining and Rock Solution’s core focus areas: Sustainability Shift, Digital Shift, and Societal Impact. This project at Modilati Secondary School distinctly echoes the company’s Digital and Societal impact aspirations.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solution’s involvement has seen the implementation of various transformative projects at Modilati Secondary School. This includes the launch of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Curriculum projects, tailored for Grades 9 to 10. These projects target both the enhancement of ICT resources and the professional development of educators.

On a more fundamental level, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions championed the construction of a new ablution block and the renovation of an existing one, symbolising their commitment to restoring learners’ dignity.

The establishment of the flushing ablution block equipped with a French septic tank was completed in February 2023. This not only signifies an enhancement in infrastructure but also a commitment to the Department of Education’s Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative. Such developments, as Lebere notes, foster a conducive learning environment.

Other infrastructural developments, primarily courtesy of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, includes classroom constructions and renovations and the establishment of a state-of-the-art computer laboratory. Additionally, the school has benefited from additional resources that bolster ICT, visual support and educator development programmes in subjects like Mathematics, Science, and English, ultimately impacting 55 educators and 1521 learners.

“We believe that Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions epitomises what it means to be a socially responsible corporation, and through strategic partnerships and a vision grounded in societal upliftment, the company will continue to redefine the landscape of corporate social investment,” Prinsloo concludes.

BRAUTESETH DRIVES GROWTH WITH SANDVIK DRILL RIGS

Based near Port Shepstone on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast, Brauteseth Blasting’s success has evolved into a national footprint – and beyond – with multiple drill rig acquisitions from Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions bolstering its production capacity.

In fact, remarks Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions Account Manager Andre Blom, Brauteseth Blasting has acquired units from every Sandvik boom drill range in a single year. 

“This included Leopard™ DI550 and Leopard™ DI650 down-the-hole drill rigs from our Leopard™ range, the Pantera™ DP1500i and the Ranger™ DX800 and Ranger™ DX900i surface top hammer drill rigs,” says Blom. The two companies have built a strong partnership since 2005, when the first Sandvik rig was acquired by Brauteseth Blasting. 

Brauteseth Blasting began mainly in the civil engineering sector and in quarrying – but has now moved decisively into surface mining as well. Clive Brauteseth, Managing Director since 1989, points to the geographic expansion now beyond KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape – into Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Northern Cape and beyond South Africa into Zambia.

By this year, the number of Sandvik drill rigs acquired by the company over the years has reached almost 50, and more acquisitions are in the pipeline by the end of the year, says Brauteseth. 

“We have built a strong relationship with Sandvik over my 35 years with the company,” he says. “We have some of the best equipment in the market, and keep it well maintained and up to date; this means continual investment in replacing plant regularly.”

He notes that the quality and performance of Sandvik drill rigs gives Brauteseth Blasting the uptime and reliability that its projects demand, backed up by the experience and skills of its stable and committed teams. The ongoing upskilling also ensures that the latest technology investments are put to the most productive use in the field – to deliver the bottom-line results that keep customers loyal. 

Of Brauteseth Blasting’s acquisitions during 2021 into 2022, Leopard range is designed for high capacity production drilling in medium-sized to large opencast mining operations, while the Ranger™ DX800 and Ranger™ DX900i drill rigs serve mainly the construction and small mining sectors. In between, the Pantera™ DP1500i rig is a ‘cross over’ for applications in quarries and smaller opencast mines.

With the experience of almost two decades of running Sandvik drills, Brauteseth believes that Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has the edge in this market. This is important for the way that his company embraces new technology to help keep it a step ahead.

“When there is new equipment in the market, we are always interested in what it can do for our fleet capability and our customers,” says Brauteseth. “I really value Sandvik’s continuous innovation, and the way they listen to customers when pursuing those developments.”

Blom highlights the unique partnership between the companies, where Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions provides solid OEM support to enable Brauteseth Blasting to remain self-sufficient operationally and technically. More drill rig acquisitions are in the pipeline for 2023, as the company’s growth trend only gathers strength.

REDPATH MINING SOUTH AFRICA PARTNERS WITH SANDVIK FOR DIGITAL TRAINING

In a milestone that is likely to revolutionise mining training and safety practices in Southern Africa, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has provided its state-of-the-art digital trainers to leading mining contractor Redpath Mining South Africa.

“Our digital trainers offer a range of advantages that are set to transform the way mining personnel acquire skills and knowledge,” says Vusi Thobela, Key Accounts Manager at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions. “These cutting-edge training tools provide an immersive and realistic simulation of mining operations, empowering trainees to gain practical experience in a controlled environment.”

The strategic partnership between Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions and Redpath Mining South Africa, under a global framework agreement, signifies a shared vision of promoting excellence and safety in the mining industry.
The strategic partnership between Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions and Redpath Mining South Africa, under a global framework agreement, signifies a shared vision of promoting excellence and safety in the mining industry.

This innovative technology provides trainees with interactive interfaces that closely resemble the controls and displays found on real mining equipment. This ensures a seamless transition from training to on-site applications for trainees. It also enables them to learn and practice safety protocols and emergency procedures without exposing them to the risks associated with real-life mining activities.

These cutting-edge training tools provide an immersive and realistic simulation of mining operations, empowering trainees to gain practical experience in a controlled environment.
These cutting-edge training tools provide an immersive and realistic simulation of mining operations, empowering trainees to gain practical experience in a controlled environment.

The strategic partnership between Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions and Redpath Mining South Africa – under a global framework agreement – signifies a shared vision of promoting excellence and safety in the mining industry. According to Sudesh Deonarain, General Manager Engineering at Redpath Mining, the high-fidelity simulations offered by Sandvik’s digital trainers enhance the training experience.

Redpath Mining South Africa recently took delivery of Sandvik simulators for the Sandvik DD422iDC and the Sandvik LH517i to deploy at current projects.
Redpath Mining South Africa recently took delivery of Sandvik simulators for the Sandvik DD422iDC and the Sandvik LH517i to deploy at current projects.

“Our trainees can familiarise themselves with a range of mining environments, equipment behaviour and tasks, allowing them to hone their skills in a life-like setting,” says Deonarain. “From equipment operation and maintenance to troubleshooting and teamwork, they can practice various scenarios, ensuring they are well-prepared to tackle real-world challenges.”

He says these cutting-edge tools help to better equip Redpath’s workforce to navigate the complexities of modern mining operations and to ensure safety and productivity.

Thobela adds that the accurate simulation of mining equipment and processes allows trainees to develop a deep understanding of the intricacies of operating and maintaining the Sandvik machines.

“This supports increased productivity and reduced downtime, ultimately optimising operational efficiency in mining operations,” he says. “Furthermore, the digital trainers may incorporate data analytics capabilities, providing valuable insights into trainee performance, equipment utilisation and operational efficiency.”

He notes that the data-driven approach fosters continuous improvement in training methodologies, contributing to the overall growth and success of mining operations.

“Redpath’s commitment to operational excellence, combined with Sandvik’s leading technology, is paving the way towards enhanced training and safety standards throughout Africa’s mining landscape,” says Thobela.

SANDVIK DRIVES CHANGE, INNOVATION IN MINING WITH UPSKILLING

Mining is fast embracing various automation and digital technologies, but to keep up with the rapid pace of operational change that this trend demands, everyone must keep learning.

This is the message from Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions Human Resources Development (HRD) Manager, Vusi Mnguni who warns that skills development as an enabler is pivotal to effective change management process.

Technology such as the Digital Driller allows Sandvik to deliver ‘real life’ training in a simulated working environment.
Technology such as the Digital Driller allows Sandvik to deliver ‘real life’ training in a simulated working environment.

As a result, the company invests heavily in employee and customer development through its training academy at its Khomanani head office. This is made possible through a variety of specially developed programmes, with most of these conducted in collaboration with tertiary institutions such as the University of Pretoria, Tshwane University of Technology, Colliery Training College, Sandvik Training Academy and other qualified skills development providers.

“Innovation in mining means that more changes are coming, but change is only possible with new competencies,” argues Mnguni. “Unless you have prepared your employees with the requisite skills to drive the change you want, that change process is doomed – as many people will resist what they do not know.”

Sandvik recently celebrated the graduation of employees for Project Management through MSC Business School.
Sandvik recently celebrated the graduation of employees for Project Management through MSC Business School.

Citing Sandvik’s purpose being “We make the shift – advancing the world through engineering”, he highlights that this requires the business to identify the skills it needs now – and those it needs in the future. Training in the necessary competencies must begin now, to enable the company to move forward towards meeting its strategic objectives.

“This approach also makes an important broader contribution to the mining sector because tomorrow’s skills need to be in place before we can introduce our latest technologies to the market,” he explains. “The application of technology is really a change management process, which rests on the leadership, technical and organisational capacity of all involved.”

To achieve this, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is engaged in a wide range of training initiatives in technical, managerial and other skills. Mnguni emphasises that change is driven by leadership, and skills are developed at this level in terms of adaptability, agility and change management.

“Another key aspect of learning among our staff and in the mining sector generally today is around data,” he explains. “It is increasingly expected that decision-making is data driven, so everyone needs to be literate at the level that they interact with data to understand and analyse the growing volume of data available.”

Mechatronics competency is the way forward and a focal point for Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions. Indeed, it is already demanded in the current working environment, as the company is a leader in developing intelligent machines for mining.

This means that the traditional artisan skill sets must be taken further, he says. Collaborating with the Tshwane University of Technology, the company upskills millwrights and electricians through a mechatronics programme that deals with the marriage of mechanical, electrical and computer science. This is one of only two institutions in Africa who can offer this specialised course.

“In fact, we have changed our apprenticeship programme to our Millwright Extended Programme which makes Artisan 4.0 a focal point. This includes basic skills in PLC programming and working with autonomous robots/vehicles,” he says. “This helps to equip the kind of artisan that industry really needs, as it is no longer enough to be specialised in the traditional trades. While regulated apprenticeship modules are generic, the apprentices need additional specialised training to be ready to work on modern mining equipment.”

Various training modalities are appreciated by Sandvik, Virtual, In- Class, Instructor Led , Self-Paced , Nano Learnings , Simulated , On the Job Training , Coaching , Augmented and Virtual Reality.

He adds that it is essential that all role players align their programmes with the technology trends. This is what Sandvik Academy does, not only as a pipeline for its own skills but also for customers that request it. Such is the legacy of skills development at the company, that it has trained more than 1,000 apprentices over the past 22 years – at a 100% absorption rate into employment.

“These people are gold to the industry and have been taken up not only in South Africa but in countries like Zambia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, as well as abroad,” Mnguni concludes.