Offering a complete gear solution for centre pivot irrigation systems, SEW-EURODRIVE brings its quality products and support as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) closer to South Africa’s farming sector.

“As a key strategic sector in this country, the agricultural industry deserves to be serviced by OEMs – not just by resellers of imported products,” says Jonathan McKey, National Sales and Marketing Manager at SEW-EURODRIVE. “As a global company with a world class reputation, our strong local footprint across South Africa, and Africa, ensures that the farming community gets the support it needs from us.”

Through its strategy of ‘closing the loop’, SEW-EURODRIVE is able to supply, install and service the centre drive and wheel drives for pivot irrigation systems – as well as the drive technology to power the system.

“Our SEW-EURODRIVE gearbox solutions have proven themselves in this application since the 1980s in Brazil, where numerous units are sold every month into their farming sector,” says McKey. “The similarities of the agricultural environment between our two countries have convinced us that our offering adds plenty of value locally.”

Aligning to the shaft sizes and flange connections on existing centre pivot irrigation equipment, SEW-EURODIVE provides a ‘plug and play’ solution of gearing, casing and motor. Willem Strydom, Business Development Manager: Electronics for SEW-EURODRIVE, emphasises that the company presents a game-changing concept in sustainability, serviceability and cost effectiveness, which is exactly what the local agricultural sector needs.

“Generally, the drive systems on this type of equipment are simply replaced when they no longer perform, and there is little capability in South Africa to repair them,” says Strydom. “Not only will we assemble our own gearboxes in-country, but we can also repair and refurbish the various components to our stringent OEM standards.”

The company’s infrastructure includes service teams that visit customers’ sites, whether these are commercial farms or smaller privately owned enterprises. These teams are highly experienced in various gearbox systems and applications, so they can inspect existing installations and advise on optimal solutions.

“Large operations can even be supported with formal service level agreements, where the size and efficiency of their operation warrants it,” he says. SEW-EURODRIVE can serve the market’s standardised wheel ratios of 50:1 and 52:1, to accommodate the specifications of the key suppliers of centre pivot irrigation systems.

McKey highlights the build quality of the company’s gearboxes, which underpins their proven reliability in multiple sectors and applications. Indeed, SEW-EURODRIVE only enters a market once its offerings have been decisively field-proven.

According to Strydom, the depth of the company’s technical capability is demonstrated by the fact that it has designed and manufactured interchangeable internal gearing. This allows for commonality of parts, which in turn facilitates efficient stockholding and quick turnaround times.

“One of the benefits of our gearboxes for the centre pivot market is that we use the same internal gearing as our popular and robust 7-series range,” he explains. “The heart of our gearboxes for centre pivot irrigation has therefore proven itself beyond doubt over decades in many arduous applications and industries.”

It also means that SEW-EURODRIVE already has extensive stockholding in its large and modern facility in Aeroton west of Johannesburg, and all the necessary expertise to assess and refurbish gearboxes using these components. The company also has its own quality motors – available in either a 0,55 kW, 0,75 kW or a 1,1 kW option – for these irrigation systems.

While the duty performed by the gearboxes and motors on centre pivot irrigation systems might be considered lighter than certain other applications in more demanding sectors, Strydom emphasises that regular inspection and maintenance remain important.

“This agricultural equipment may need to be moved from one location to another on the farm, for instance,” he says. “In some cases, this process can damage both the gears and motors – so it is vital to check regularly that the performance of the equipment is still optimal.”

The attention of trained service staff from SEW-EURODRIVE can make this process easier and less time consuming for farm managers. The on-site assessment can also confirm whether cost effective repairs are possible, rather than replacing whole gearboxes. Repairing or replacing just the internal gears will allow the casing to be preserved – minimising the wastage and cost.

Another growing concern for farmers is the rising cost of electricity, and SEW-EURODRIVE’s solutions for centre pivot systems also help address this challenge, says Strydom. This is done through the use of energy efficient motors, rated in the IE3 class in terms of international energy standards.

“Most competitors in this field use standard efficiency IE1 class motors,” he explains. “To save our customers on the cost of their electricity, SEW-EURODRIVE standardises on the use of premium efficiency IE3 motors.”

The energy efficiency of motors is, in fact, becoming important for all sectors in South Africa, in the light of government plans to introduce Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) this year. “We are proud to be a full-service OEM in the agricultural space,” concludes McKey. “We are also excited about this and other opportunities in this sector in which we will be closing the loop – by offering an ever-wider range of complete solutions for our customers.”


Companies in various sectors across Africa are wanting to harness the power of modern advancements in drive technology – and SEW-EURODRIVE is there with the solutions and the support.

“Many operations around the continent are still using conventional technology, but are looking for ways to improve efficiencies and productivity,” says Jonathan McKey, National Sales and Marketing Manager  at SEW-EURODRIVE. “They are also wanting to reduce their carbon footprint and energy costs, and we have the solutions for them.”

In fact, the company is driving a concerted strategy to bring these solutions closer to customers – through extending their local in-country presence. Having expanded and upgraded their facility in Aeroton near Johannesburg, SEW-EURODRIVE now boasts entities in Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Kenya. The office in Tanzania has been thriving for ten years already.

“This year, we are setting up additional resources in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Mozambique,” says SEW-EURODRIVE’s Tebogo Moloi, in charge of Business Development in Africa. “Our philosophy is to build local businesses on the strength of local expertise and market knowledge, bringing us closer to customers with enhanced offerings of technology and services.”

With the local representatives being well qualified and experienced in their markets, SEW-EURODRIVE supports them the necessary facilities and stockholding, as well as specialised training. Moloi highlights that site visits from their teams to customers can become both more frequent and more valuable.

“From our in-country bases, we are closer to customer sites and can deliver high value technical support when requested during our visits,” he says. “Regular engagement means that we build our relationships of trust with customers, by seeing their working environment and understanding their needs and challenges.”

McKey explains that SEW-EURODRIVE is actively diversifying its offerings in Africa to meet each market’s specific requirements. Having established a firm base in South Africa over the decades as geared motor specialists, it has grown into after-sales service and industrial gear (IG) units.

“Given the large installed base of geared motors and IG units in Africa, we can now also service and repair competitor products – by leveraging our growing technical capability around the continent,” he says.

As part of its standard and complimentary services around Africa, SEW-EURODRIVE conducts on-site surveys to assess customers’ operational infrastructure, notes McKey. The company can then recommend modernised solutions to enhance efficiency and reliability. “We also conduct energy audits, and advise on our energy efficient solutions to reduce costs and carbon footprints,” he says.


When a mining operation in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province found that one of its planetary gearboxes on a high-torque conveyor was failing, it called SEW-EURODRIVE for a solution.

Leveraging the latest intelligent technology, the solution is a pioneering innovation providing a cost effective replacement that will ensure reliable performance. Greg Lewis, Business Development Manager Projects for SEW-EURODRIVE, says the application at the mine demanded a customised and carefully considered approach. 

“The application itself was in the plant where a steel-belt transfer conveyor moves extremely slowly – with the 4 metre diameter head pulley turning just one revolution every 25 minutes,” says Lewis. “Two planetary gearboxes drive the pulley, with one on each side, and the mine had been facing the pending failure of one of these, which needed to be replaced.”

With the original installer of that gearbox unavailable, the mine came directly to SEW EURODRIVE, he explains. The drive specialist already has a good relationship with the mine, and has provided most of the power transmission items on the site. 

“One of the key challenges was that the mine required only the one gearbox to be replaced at that stage,” Lewis says. “It is important to understand that in this application the two gearboxes must run together, at exactly the same speed and torque. Any variation in the speeds is not an option.”

SEW-EURODRIVE was able to match one of its units very closely with the unit being replaced, but there was still a very slight difference in the ratios. This led to a 0,001 difference in the revolutions per minute. 

“While this may sound insignificant, it makes a difference when the gearbox torque is a couple of hundred thousand Nm’s,” he says. “At this high torque level, any misalignment or desynchronisation can affect the foundation and potentially cause catastrophic failure.”

With the expert input of one of SEW-EURODRIVE’s in-house mechatronics engineers, the solution uses the company’s MOVI-C technology in a way that has never been done before. The new planetary gearbox supplied by the company will match the torque of the original gearbox – ensuring that they turn at precisely the same speed. The solution involves removing the existing base plate and providing a new, drop-in solution with an SEW-EURODRIVE planetary gearbox – designed to match the current infrastructure in the plant.

“The technology on our planetary gearbox constantly changes the torque to match the existing equipment,” he said. To prove this intelligent design, SEW-EURODRIVE built a small-scale working mock-up for the customer to witness. Together with its own customised base-plate, the ‘model’ arrangement was taken to site and demonstrated to the customer’s satisfaction.

The mock-up was so successful that SEW-EURODRIVE colleagues around the world asked to see it, so that they could learn from the achievement. It was also a showpiece at the company’s exhibition stand at the2022 Electra Mining Africa event near Johannesburg. 

Lewis explains that the project was designed and delivered by SEW-EURODRIVE as a complete solution – from the fully customisable panels to the electronics and the installation of the gearbox. The installed unit is an XP planetary gearbox with shrink disk, with a primary X-series gearbox as a further reduction unit to achieve the required ratio. 

“We engineered the steel base to fit onto the existing concrete foundation without any modifications required from the customer’s side,” he says. The significance of the project is enhanced by the considerable scale of its elements. At about 1,7 m in height – and measuring 2,1 m wide and long – the gearbox itself is sizeable, weighing about 6 t. Moving at 0,07 rpm, it moves the steel belt that carries a fine cake of raw chrome material.

“There are not many companies who can produce a solution to meet these very slow revolutions,” Lewis says. “Being among those who can is a source of great pride for us. This project has been particularly rewarding as it demonstrates our capability in matching another footprint, eliminating the need for the customer to break down existing structures and build new ones.”

The unique requirements of the project meant extensive on-site engagement with the customer and detailed measurement of plant requirements. SEW-EURODRIVE’s engineers in Johannesburg generated the working drawings from which global counterparts within the group could begin manufacturing the unit in Germany. 

Lewis highlights the assurance that SEW-EURODRIVE can give the mine in terms of support, as the company has long been an established presence in the sector and the country. The customer was extremely happy with this creative solution that their other plants may well be looking at similar replacements in the coming years. 

“We are already assisting with our full service technicians, and we can provide experts in electronics, mechanical engineering and mechatronics, as the need arises,” he says. “The electronics in this solution will allow the mine to implement a range of enhancements in the future, including safety features and monitoring of operations.” 


Dedicated SANParks Honorary Rangers across the country are committed to preserving and protecting the South African National Parks. These passionate volunteers tirelessly devote their time, skills and resources and their noble efforts play a vital role in ensuring the continued existence of our precious wildlife and ecosystems. 

SEW-EURODRIVE, a leading global drive technology specialist, recognises the significance of conservation and the critical role played by organisations like the SANParks Honorary Rangers, and proudly stands alongside them in this crucial mission. 

“At SEW-EURODRIVE, we understand the importance of conserving our natural heritage for the benefit of future generations, and this is why our Mbombela branch adopted the SANParks Honorary Rangers in that region as one of its Corporate Social Investment projects,” Raymond Obermeyer, Managing Director of SEW-EURODRIVE, explains. 

One of the primary ways in which SEW-EURODRIVE extends its support is by providing much-needed resources, such as two-way radios. These communication tools are invaluable for the SANParks Honorary Rangers as they carry out their diverse and challenging tasks, which range from wildlife monitoring and anti-poaching efforts to educational outreach programmes. The company’s contribution ensures that the Honorary Rangers are equipped with the essential tools to carry out their crucial work effectively, and this included travel medic kits, Garmin eTrex units, cane pangas, pruning shears, folding saws, steel cable cutters, chain saws and tool sets. 

Obermeyer says that SEW-EURODRIVE’s commitment to conservation extends beyond a mere donation of resources, and the company will be attending a Golf Day in Mbombela on 26 October 2023 in support of the SANParks Honorary Rangers. 

SEW-EURODRIVE has been operating its Mbombela branch for more than 25 years, and during this time, it has become an integral part of the community. The company serves various industry sectors in the region including agriculture, forestry, mining and general industry, contributing to the economic development and sustainability of the area.

SEW-EURODRIVE’s collaboration with the SANParks Honorary Rangers in the Mbombela region serves as a testament to the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship and community engagement. Through this partnership, the company is not only contributing to the conservation of South Africa’s natural treasures but also inspiring others to join the cause and ensure a brighter, more sustainable future for all.

“We are proud to support the SANParks Honorary Rangers in their mission to protect and preserve South Africa’s biodiversity, and believe that together, we can make a meaningful difference,” Obermeyer says. 


After the recent X.e series agitator unit launch in July 2023, SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa secured an order for nine units earmarked for the mining industry – a world-class first!

SEW-EURODRIVE has an extensive and proven reputation for providing reliable high performance solutions for mixing and agitation applications in various industries globally. Significantly, the X.e agitator units have proven suitable for mixing and blending liquids and other materials in the harsh African operating environment. 

“The X.e agitator units are ideal for applications where high power ratings are required for stirring and mixing materials, and what is significant is that we can customise these agitator units to suit the customer’s specifications,” Jarrod Futter, Engineering Manager at SEW-EURODRIVE explains. “For example, we offer various bearing and shafting options and modular systems for the unit which can be selected to meet the customer’s budget and expectations.” 

Due to the customer’s requirements for nine low-ratio and moderately high torque and force application, the X3FSM240e HD version was selected. The selection process depends on multiple factors, including the input speed, motor power, loading distance, axial loading and most importantly, the radial loading in the application and required output speed,” Futter adds.

The X.e agitator differs completely from previous X Series vertical drives. The X.e agitator unit is purpose designed for mixing and agitation, focusing on a stronger and dynamically improved housing. This allows for higher radial load applications, with a maximised bearing distance and an intelligent housing split above the maximum oil level to minimise potential leaks completely and offer better servicing and maintenance capabilities. The X.e agitator also features a new robust, integrated foot design with multiple aligned foot holes to allow for easy mounting and stiffness as well as huge strides in thermal improvement.

During the X.e agitator design process, SEW-EURODRIVE applied the ‘digital-twin’ concept that ties real-world testing to a digital Finite Element Analysis. Explaining the process, Futter says this methodology allows the matching of real-time figures during testing to the digital analysis, achieving the same results. “This enabled many cost benefits, minimised the need for physical testing and allowed the team to see and solve problems before they happened. The digital-twin concept is a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly solution for development and testing, and minimises potential waste,” Futter adds. 

As an example, he says that the extended bearing distance could be further optimised along with the oil flow characteristics. Using fluid simulation the piping could be optimised internally, allowing the designers to see how the flow occurs before creating a physical unit to evaluate the theory. The simulation results could then be checked with real-time tests to ensure the oil flow occurs as designed and optimal lubrication is achieved.

The X.e agitator unit has a unique application-specific reinforced and extended bearing distance concept, with the distance between the lower and upper output shaft bearing mounted further apart. This creates a greater shaft distance between these loading points, which allows the low speed shaft to handle higher radial forces. “In layman’s terms – the lever has been made longer to move a larger load,” Futter says.

The X.e  agitator unit not only features a pressurised internal lubrication system that allows for continuous oil flow to all upper bearings and gears to ensure the units are well lubricated, but the unique labyrinth seal ensures protection from external particles that may damage the oil seals. Offering three sizes with various torque ranges and gear units, SEW-EURODRIVE offers client-specific products all safely encapsulated inside the gearbox for client and product protection.

SEW-EURODRIVE is committed to sustainable engineering solutions, and the X.e agitator unit is testament to this. The housing has been developed for easy servicing and maintenance, attributed to sustainable long term use. Therefore, components are easily replaceable. The efficiency gains are attributed to using the X.e series gearing, which has been extensively adapted from the original X-series. Using standard existing components, the X.e agitator series required less design time to achieve the final product.

With five production plants worldwide and a footprint in more than 50 countries, SEW-EURODRIVE offers a quick turnaround in aftersales support and aggressive lead times. “We are looking forward to making history with delivering the first nine X.e agitator units in the world and offering world-class aftersales support,” Futter concludes.


In an important digital initiative to make product selection and procurement easier for customers, SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa has launched an online purchasing feature on its website. 

According to Zander Claassens, Training Manager at SEW-EURODRIVE, the portal allows customers to not only order products or parts, but also to find support in the form of documentation and CAD data. To maintain the personal touch, there is even a dedicated person to assist customers with their online requests from 7am to 9pm every day. 

“The online purchasing portal offers users many useful tools and functions, valuable information and practical assistance,” says Claassens. “It is clear that many customers are embracing online procurement platforms, especially since the Covid-19 lockdowns, and we are excited to further enhance our sales and support channels in this way.”

He highlights that the very wide and dynamic range of configurations in SEW-EURODRIVE’s offering demanded that the functions of the shopping cart be specially developed to make it as user-friendly as possible for customers. 

“We have developed four different functions that customers can choose from when adding a product to the shopping cart,” he explains. “The first is through our product configurator, which guides customers in configuring their required equipment – using drop down options from our vast range.”

The next channel would be to use the spare parts or replacement product selection function, where one of two routes can be chosen. In the first, the customer can make use of the SEW-EURODRIVE serial number found on the product nameplate. Entering that serial number is a quick and simple way of request a replacement – and ensuring that the exact configuration is replicated.

“Another route enables customers to find an SEW-EURODRIVE replacement product for a third-party drive – in other words, which is not an SEW-EURODRIVE item,” he said. “Our online tool will not understand the non-SEW-EURODRIVE serial number, of course, but if the specific criteria are supplied, we will know what the customer needs and we will supply.”

Registered customers who have already been trading with SEW-EURODRIVE can also use a third option – a customer transaction overview – to help select what they are looking for. When they log into the online purchasing portal, they will be able to view their history of quotations and orders. This makes it simple to re-order a component that has been purchased before, as they can select the item from a previous transaction or quotation, says Claassens. 

“Lastly, customers can use the drive selection assistant – a smart online tool that guides the user through three simple steps to find the right drive,” he says. “The first step is to select the application, and the second requires more application-related information; the third step then presents the customer with product configurations and suggestions – from which they can choose.”

He reiterates that customers wishing to transact on the portal can find support from a real person behind the portal, who can provide hands-on advice and assistance. Customers can also rest easy that the security of the portal is world class. 

“Our cyber-security is handled by a dedicated IT team in our group headquarters in Germany,” he explains. “Our customer and transaction data are double-encrypted when working online, while the online support is run on hyper-text transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) and is backed up on a geographical redundancy cloud-based system.”

Another security precaution is that online purchasing is not permitted using credit cards, as the company still follows its normal payment protocols with customers once they have placed items in the online shopping cart. 


By simplifying its configuration of components, SEW-EURODRIVE’s modular design delivers the flexibility required to achieve technically unique innovations with parts that are readily available and cost effective. 

“Our modular design allows the same part to be used in different sizes of gearboxes, which facilitates more economic production and less investment in stockholding,” explains Andreas Meid, SEW-EURODRIVE’s Head of Engineering. “By streamlining the number of parts required for a product range, this also allows improved component availability and turnaround time.”

For instance, modularity gives the company’s standard gearboxes a high degree of adaptability, so they can be run in either a vertical or horizontal orientation, says Meid. The customer therefore only needs a single housing in stock as it can be used vertically for an application such as agitation or horizontally for a conveyor system. The majority of the parts are then interchangeable across various applications. 

SEW-EURODRIVE Johannesburg Sales Manager Jayson Jackson points out that most of the gearboxes’ pinion shafts would be suited to the specific gearbox size range, while the gear wheels would have more flexibility to be used in different size gearboxes. 

“This principle has allowed the production of fewer specialised parts while still giving customers access to a wide range of options when developing a solution to their requirements,” says Jackson.

Modularity also has positive impacts for the manufacturing process, which create benefits for customers in the form of cost control and availability of stock. Bruce Farthing, Project Engineer at SEW-EURODRIVE, notes that production of components can be streamlined to improve efficiencies, lead times and masses. 

“This also means we can focus our innovation efforts on a more limited number of parts, making a greater technological impact,” says Farthing. “Moreover, the modular principle makes the assembly of gearboxes simpler across a range of applications.” 

He refers to a recent example of the flexibility of SEW-EURODRIVE products, when girth gear was installed for a mining customer. The girth gear configuration requires two gearboxes – one which is orientated to a left-hand application and the other which is right-handed. 

“This is a critical item of equipment for the plant, so the customer needed on-site spares,” he says. “Due to the modularity of our design, the mine needed to only hold one set of spares as our universal housing range can be adapted to either left-handed or right-handed use.”

Jackson says the SEW-EURODRIVE range holds similar benefits for conveyor applications. Where a customer has multiple conveyors on site, they can minimise the spares inventory as the housing can be inverted to operate on either side of a conveyor. He notes that the modular design also creates useful flexibility in the servicing of gearboxes.

“If a customer calls us with an input shaft assembly is damaged, for instance, we can conduct a pre-assembly in our factory before delivering it to site,” he says. “The mine technician just needs to do a quick changeover instead of having to break the gearbox down to the bearings and gears.”


With its focus on close collaboration with its customers, SEW-EURODRIVE has further raised the technological bar at its DriveAcademy® in recent years. 

Committed to providing strong technical skills support behind its range of products, SEW-EURODRIVE has offered the services of its DriveAcademy® for a decade already. With the move to its new and expanded headquarters at Aeroton in Gauteng, the company has taken its learning facilities to the next level, according to Zander Claassens, Training Manager at SEW-EURODRIVE. 

“Developing skills among our employees and customers has always been a high priority for SEW-EURODRIVE,” says Claassens. “The performance and reliability of our products is directly enhanced when stakeholders understand the technical details and select the right product for the application; this is a cornerstone of our successful business growth.”

In the past 18 months, there has been significant upgrading of resources in the DriveAcademy®, after the company moved into its new Industry 4.0-ready plant. These included state-of-the-art media rooms in the training wing, and the implementation of didactic products and next-generation training equipment. 

Innovation is at the heart of SEW-EURODRIVE’s approach to technology, so it is unsurprising that the company takes a similar line in skills development. Keeping up with new training methods while still remaining adaptable is the only way to stay ahead of the continuous waves of change, he argues. 

“We are constantly updating our training material, and also upgrading our own skills as trainers – adopting new ways of presenting,” he says. “We regularly attend international conferences in person or virtually, to discuss these innovations and share information.”

He highlights that the DriveAcademy® in South Africa is one of the first to adopt and implement augmented reality, with an eye on Industry 4.0 – allowing trainees to learn through holograms and holographic overlays.

“Not only is this a highly effective method, but is something that few people have been exposed to so it generates considerable interest and excitement among trainees,” he says. “Where trainees are exposed to memorable experiences like these, then the retention of information tends to be much greater.”

With its focus on providing solutions, SEW-EURODRIVE leverages its DriveAcademy® by applying relevant knowledge to achieve this goal. Trainees in recent years have come from various sectors including automotive, mining, refining and steel.

“We provide bespoke training for customers based on the products that they use, as well as standard product training courses with an introductory overview in drive engineering,” explains Claassens. “As with our staff, each role within a business has different requirements, so we tailor the training to suit the need.”

He notes that within the global SEW-EURODRIVE family, there are 85 drive technology centres with training departments spread across 54 countries. He emphasises that there is a strong commitment to sharing knowledge for the benefit of the global SEW-EURODRIVE brand. Ensuring high quality of deliverables, all the Drive Academies comply with the SEW-EURODRIVE international corporate standard.

“Due to the technical nature of our product portfolio, all of the training we offer is concluded with theoretical and practical tests, and competency is only declared when certain targets are met,” he explains. “Through this simple but effective process, our staff, agents and customers come to a better comprehension of their chosen topics.”


With well over 100 units already delivered, SEW-EURODRIVE in South Africa is set to continue supplying Ivanhoe Mines’ prestigious Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a joint venture with Zijin Mining of China, with a wide range of its X.e-series power packs.

According to Willem Strydom, Business Development at SEW-EURODRIVE, the power packs – which are integrated units comprising gearbox, coupling and motor – will be part of Kamoa-Kakula’s Phase 3 expansion. Since the mine’s first phase of development over five years ago, SEW-EURODRIVE has worked closely with both Ivanhoe Mines and the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor.

The supply of quality engineered power packs to Ivanhoe Mines’ Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex from SEW-EURODRIVE continues into the mine’s Phase 3 expansion.
The supply of quality engineered power packs to Ivanhoe Mines’ Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex from SEW-EURODRIVE continues into the mine’s Phase 3 expansion.

“As in previous phases of the mine’s development, our robust high quality power packs will provide reliable solutions in on-site applications such as conveyors, agitators, and slurry pumps,” says Strydom. “The size range in the order makes use of our wide capability range to provide a total solution, ranging from 55 kW units to 500 kW units.”

The latest order includes several X.e Series power packs for conveyor applications, planetary gearboxes for feeder applications, and spare gearboxes. The equipment will be delivered in staggered shipments this year. While the mine typically undertakes the installation of the equipment, SEW-EURODRIVE sends technical teams to site to check final alignment and overall installation parameters.

The tropical climate as well as high levels of sun exposure meant that SEW-EURODRIVE had to take special care in their design, incorporating special breathers, covers and fans.
The tropical climate as well as high levels of sun exposure meant that SEW-EURODRIVE had to take special care in their design, incorporating special breathers, covers and fans.

The company has expanded its after-sales service teams considerably in recent years, allowing it to support the growing base of equipment throughout Africa. Its projects and engineering teams have also grown – developing a depth of experience to assist customers right from design phase onwards.

Strydom notes that SEW-EURODRIVE has significantly developed its infrastructural foundation in South Africa, and plans to develop a physical representation in over 23 other African countries. As a priority country for the company’s strategy, there is expected to be a representative in place in the DRC in 2023, he explains. Field service teams from South Africa are frequently at Kamoa-Kakula to assist with servicing of the existing power packs operating on the site.

SEW-EURODRIVE continues to supply Ivanhoe Mines’ Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex with reliable solutions in on-site applications such as conveyors, agitators and slurry pumps.
SEW-EURODRIVE continues to supply Ivanhoe Mines’ Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex with reliable solutions in on-site applications such as conveyors, agitators and slurry pumps.

“Our local assembly capability in our new facility in Johannesburg – combined with our ability to source from the group’s other global operations – has allowed us to meet the tight delivery deadlines for this substantial order of equipment,” he says. “Our global footprint and production capacity mean that we can deliver faster than most players in our field, and this is often an important factor for our market.”

While the company previously imported the larger X.e Industrial gearboxes from Germany, it is now able to assemble these in the new South African facilities. As part of its service, SEW-EURODRIVE will also handle the logistics of getting this large volume of equipment to site. The company’s training centre – the Drive Academy – in Johannesburg has also made a valuable contribution by providing training on the equipment and its maintenance.

In this project, the tropical climate was another important factor in the customer’s design requirements. This required the inclusion of certain cooling and paint specifications in the contract. SEW-EURODRIVE Head of Engineering Andreas Meid explains that special breathers were part of the design in response to high humidity levels – and served to ensure no moisture in the gearboxes. In outdoor applications where sun exposure was high, covers were also included to reduce heat build-up. Cooling fans were also optimised in certain cases to ensure optimal performance.

He highlights that Kamoa-Kakula is one of many projects in Africa to request the installation of monitoring equipment on the power packs. This facilitates real-time monitoring, using specialised sensors to measure key indicators like vibration and temperature from anywhere in the world.

“This allows the operation to monitor the equipment remotely, receiving early warnings of any issues in performance,” says Meid. “Responding timeously to this information can prevent serious damage and avoid unplanned downtime.”

As a preferred supplier, SEW-EURODRIVE first delivered a multitude of X.e Series power packs between 2019 and 2021 for the mine’s initial development phase. Motors ranging in motor from 7, 5 kW to 500 kW as well as planetary gearboxes were supplied during this time for feeder applications, together with several spare gearboxes.

For Kamoa-Kakula’s Phase 2 expansion, which doubled the concentrator plant capacity, SEW-EURODRIVE supplied many standard X.e Series power packs for the conveyors as well as planetary gearboxes for the feeders.


Well known for its drive technology, SEW-EURODRIVE partners with customers to design and implement automation projects for their plants, factories and warehouses – using its powerful Maxolution® offering.

According to Werner Engelbrecht, Works Manager Mechatronics at SEW-EURODRIVE, this process is focused on combining all aspects of production including hardware and software. Rather than a customer having to develop their own software infrastructure from scratch, says Engelbrecht, Maxolution® has its own pre-defined application modules that have been developed from years of experience in the field.

Werner Engelbrecht, Works Manager Mechatronics at SEW-EURODRIVE.
Werner Engelbrecht, Works Manager Mechatronics at SEW-EURODRIVE.

“With our specialised software, we can simulate material flow in industrial systems, helping customers to achieve greater efficiency through multiple integrations of systems,” he says. “The Maxolution® portfolio allows applications in the customer’s facility to be incorporated into a single network.”

This creates the foundation for a complete system to work in synergy; it also opens the door to integrate new systems and to allow existing systems to adapt to product changes. Maxolution® can offer cost effective adaptability for product variations in a production line due to its easily programmable application modules.

The system has already been installed to help automate the factories of leading South African car manufacturers. However, he argues that Maxolution® has significant potential in other local sectors, helping to raise efficiencies, productivity and output.

SEW-EURODRIVE's condition monitoring solution - DriveRadar.
SEW-EURODRIVE’s condition monitoring solution – DriveRadar.

“With our experience and the proven technology, we can use Maxolution® to implement automation plans cost-effectively and quickly,” he says. “These solutions also save energy through the use of energy management systems and energy efficient IE4 and IE5 mechatronic decentralised solutions and motors.”

He highlights that the Maxolution® offering is an important way that SEW-EURODRIVE differentiates itself as not only an equipment supplier, but as a partner in project planning, commissioning, after-sales service and support. Customers can even enrol staff for training at SEW-EURODRIVE’s state-of-the-art Drive Academy near Johannesburg.

The new MoviC with a suite of products.
The new MoviC with a suite of products.