Valves supplier AVK Southern Africa (AVK SA) strives to assist mining companies with the critical aspect of selecting the correct valve for high-quality water flow solutions, by providing training to mining industry players through its new training centre, with many mining industry personnel having attended its courses.
The training centre, called The Academy, based at AVK’s offices in Alberton, Johannesburg, was started in September 2016, and courses are currently fully booked until the end of this month.
AVK’s training starts with a two-day introductory course on valves fundamentals, which is open to individuals involved in procurement, as well as to fitters and trainee engineers. “Even senior engineers are welcome, and do attend,” says AVK SA industrial division manager Riaan Kloppers.
AVK’s technology is ever changing and attending will ensure that the industry keeps abreast of the latest market updates, solutions and standards; after the introductory course, more advanced courses are available, he adds.
AVK’s courses were initially free, but will be running at cost from next month, owing to the overwhelming response and high demand.
Courses are compiled by Academy manager and head facilitator Roelf Frauendorf, who has more than 50 years of experience, in conjunction with a trained engineer. The courses are accredited by the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineering, with attendees able to earn two continuing professional development points upon completion of a course.
Kloppers tells Mining Weekly that the main aim is to educate attendees on the critical information AVK SA requires to be able to quote companies on the correct valve for their mining applications. This ensures the correct linkage between plant procurement departments and the plant application systems, preventing an incorrect valve being supplied for a critical application.
Water-flow solutions are unique to each mine and are tailored to deal with its challenges, relating to distance, water quality and the process employed to extract minerals from the rock, among others, and, therefore, each solution requires a specific valve.
Kloppers highlights that there are many different types of valves, each with their own application in the mining process. The selection of the correct valve also depends heavily on the resource being mined by the customer and the resultant slurry, specifically its pH level, the concentration of particles and the particle sizes suspended in the medium. “There is no one-size-fits-all valve solution.”
The lack of knowledge on how to correctly select a valve is often due to the result of the large variety of valves available, which is one of the biggest challenges AVK SA faces. There is also a need for greater communication between mining companies’ plant divisions and procurement departments, as procurement neglects the necessary factors for selecting a valve, focusing on cost alone, explains Kloppers.
There needs to be a balance between the cost of the valve and the criticality of its application, but Kloppers notes that, with budget constraints, the importance of procuring the correct valve is neglected, despite the importance of the application.
However, the best valve for the job is also overlooked because of a wariness of new technology and the resultant reluctance to adopt it, with mines opting to use the same valve, based on outdated data, for years, despite technological advancements made by the valves industry.
Subsequently, the repercussion is that plant systems require more frequent maintenance, which is not always performed, causing unnecessary system failures that result in environmental damage and production losses, Kloppers says.He
highlights AVK SA’s versatility, owing to its ability to adapt to technological advancements and manufacture valves using different materials through research and development.
The company determines the suitability of materials for the manufacturing of its valves in line with local conditions. “You can’t just import a valve, supply it to the market and expect it to give the same performance it would in its country of origin. This is not always the case. Therefore, we prefer to use local knowledge to manufacture valves for the local mining industry while retaining internationally competitive quality, durability and lifetime expectancy.”
The company does not conduct batch testing, but tests each product to ensure a high level of quality control.
AVK SA describes itself as one of the predominant valves suppliers to mines in South Africa, working with operations across the mining spectrum. It is also active in Southern Africa, supplying, for example, operations on the Copperbelt in Zambia and Namibian uranium mines.
To determine if the valves it manufactures and supplies to mines require modifications, AVK SA relies on feedback from clients after the valves have been installed and operational for a few months.
AVK SA also works closely with fitters at the mines, as they have first-hand experience with the valves and are the first to realise when the product is failing, states Kloppers. Therefore, the company educates fitters, along with engineers, on how to identify and solve potential problems.
To assist mines in selecting the correct valve type and material, as well as the correct positioning of the valve, AVK also conducts plant evaluations on site. “By changing any of these three aspects, you can prolong the plant life and substantially decrease production loss due to unscheduled maintenance and stoppages,” extolls Kloppers.
Going to sites and providing assistance from the beginning, as well as the running of The Academy, are in line with the company’s message of “Expect AVK, expect solutions”, concludes Kloppers.