Amid a “recessive mining market”, industrial equipment and services provider Hydromine Projects & Marketing has expanded its offering by opening a test and measurement division that caters for valves in hydraulic systems.
“As the mines move more towards incorporating automation . . . it is important to have an electronic capability in the business,” says Hydromine marketing director Gavin Russell.
The company has added test and measurement expertise, such as condition monitoring and equipment and installations, on site, while having secured agency agreements with specialist motor and transformer testing company ALL-Test Pro to supply its products.
Russell points out that the company is focusing on expanding business in other countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, since the country is still untapped in terms of automation technologies.
He adds that mines often run their own condition monitoring and preventive maintenance programmes, prompting Hydromine to find ways of adding value to existing operations.
The recessive market has also forced the company to find other ways of securing more business, which is mostly because of constrained investment in the South African mining industry caused by policy uncertainty.
“The [mining] market is haemorrhaging people. A lot of mines are closing shafts and letting the labour force go, which makes for tough product marketing and supplying conditions.
“We need to create that environment where investors feel confident to invest in our mining industry again. Until then, we will feel the pinch,” explains Russell.
Meanwhile, Hydromine is conducting research and development on an ‘African valve’ that is unique in the way it will be serviceable and able to adapt within a hydraulic system.
Russell mentions that the valve will have a modular arrangement to minimise stock space, and it will be a recipient to any kind of connection such as flanges, stubs or butt-welds. The valve will also be able to receive a vast array of actuators, with little engineering implication in its design to be able to do so.
“We hope to take this product to market before the start of 2019, but for now, we are fine-tuning its isolation, flexible process adaptability and modular control features”. He adds that the valve will have interchangeable components, which enables on-site maintenance for at least 90% of the possible issues that can be encountered within a hydraulic system.
Russell highlights that local manufacturing of this sort not only supports mines’ drive towards using local products, but also shortens waiting times from international suppliers.