Precision engineering firm Horne is to build a R5-million 30-m-high test rig to enable full-load testing of its Levelok chairing and E-brake emergency mine shaft braking systems.
The new rig, which will be erected at the group’s factory in Sebenza, in Gauteng, will be the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere, says Horne South Africa MD Eric Bruggeman.
Erection of the Sebenza rig will start in early May this year, with completion scheduled for July.
Costing of the rig has already been completed and an application has been submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry for financial assistance to pay for the steel, instrumentation and civil work required for construction of the rig. The design of the new rig is currently being finalised.
Bruggeman says that rig construction will begin as soon as the application for finance has been approved.
The rig will be used under simulated conditions, as close as possible to those of the mine shaft, to provide witness testing for customers ordering the various Horne products and for use by Horne itself. The test rig is also expected to be widely used by mines and related specialist suppliers.
“The rig will in time enable the creation of a new world- wide standard for emergency mine shaft braking systems and chairing equipment securing cages during load transfer.
“The product design of the test rig is currently carried out in accordance with existing mining standards, but nowhere is there a test rig of sufficient height to allow full-load testing of today’s manufactured product,” highlights Bruggeman.
“What this means is that only partial-load tests are possible, and the test results are extrapolated to allow manufacture of the end product. Our new rig will rectify this, allowing full-load testing over a 30 m drop and, ultimately, development of a new global standard,” he adds.
Bruggeman says that live loads at the rig would be limited to 80 t. Technogrid catch frames – another Horne mine safety product – will be installed at the foot of the rig in case of equipment failure.
All design work for the rig was carried out by Horne South Africa, with civil works for the rig base contracted out. The civil tenders have so far been received and a civil contractor will be appointed once finance has been received.
Meanwhile, Horne has also received tenders for the instrumentation for the rig from both local and overseas companies. “We would like to award the business to a local instrumentation specialist, but I expect that a portion of the equipment needed will, in any event, have to come from outside South Africa because it is not manufactured in this country,” says Bruggeman.
The rig will be enclosed, and there are plans to incorporate systems to simulate temperature, recreating the extremes of hot and cold tempe- ratures in mines around the world.
The rig design was based on a 12 m prototype constructed at the Sebenza factory last year, itself a refinement of an existing test rig in Canada, at steel fabricator Stainless Steel Technology’s plant in Sudbury, Ontario.
Bruggeman explains that both rigs were limited as they could not be used for the full-load drop requirements requested by the mines.
“The new test rig will enable the customer to attend a witness test of his safety product, and see that it performs to specification,” he said.
“It will enable us to fly in engineers from our target markets in Canada, South America and Asia to witness the test under conditions specific to their requirement.
“For new mine shafts, we can invite consulting engineers to come to Johannesburg, watch the tests under conditions identical to those of their shafts, and return with real, unextra- polated data.
“We anticipate that this will pave the way for unprecedented gains in Horne’s market share for mine shaft chairing and emergency braking systems,” Bruggeman says.
Horne intends to construct a second, identical rig at its Canadian division after the South African rig has been commissioned.