The two new variable-speed drive (VSD) product offerings from bearings and power transmission products distributor Bearings International (BI) – to be launched in the third quarter of this year – are ideally suited to applications in the mining industry.
The AlphaDrive-Micro VSD and the VDrivePlus, from electronic motor control solutions provider Varispeed, offer the best performance-to-cost ratio on the market without compromising on quality and reliability, claims Bearings International offer marketing manager Victor Strobel.
“Given the current economic environment, the market is very price sensitive. Therefore, any energy efficiencies or cost-savings we are able to offer are beneficial,” he adds.
Certified in line with the latest European standards and regulations, the AlphaDrive-Micro and VDrivePlus are suited to most applications in the local market, including the mining, food and beverage, manufacturing and agriculture sectors.
The AphaDrive-Micro is a compact frequency inverter that ranges from 0.2 kW to 5.5 kW, and is available in 240 V and 400 V. The compact design results in a simple integration into an electrical panel, as it mounts directly onto a DIN rail.
A built-in software menu caters for optimised parameters for basic functions and applications. This includes fans, belts, conveyors and pumps, as applications range from mining plants to water reticulation, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, food and beverage, canning and bottling plants, as well as injection moulding plants.
The Micro VSD is based on the Modbus protocol for open networking, with an electromagnetic capability filter as standard. Both of the drives feature a parameter copy stick, which allows for an automatic back-up of parameter settings, should load-shedding occur.
This also means that the same set of parameters can be transferred to many drives and multiple sites.
The VDrivePlus ranges from 0.4 kW to 400 kW and is also available in 240 V and 400 V. As a more advanced VSD, it features advanced motor control based on digital power station technology, with smart auto-tuning.
Additional features include flexible inverter control, dual high-resolution analogue inputs and free mappable input/output channels.
A universal function set is available for a range of industrial and residential applications, including integrated pump controller routings. Smart personal computer tools allow for quick inverter control, parametrisation and troubleshooting.
The size and range of the VDrivePlus makes it an ideal solution for harsh operating environments, including mining, industrial and agricultural applications.
Strobel points out that the VSDs can be supplemented with motor manufacturer Bauer Electric Motors’ motor range, which is supplied by BI.
These cast iron and aluminium frame, three-phase 400 V motors are ideal for industrial applications such as fans, compressors, pumps, sanding machines and pedestal drilling machines. The main benefit of the motors is that their feet can easily be changed to suit the clients mounting needs which helps reduce stock holding at the end-user.
The multi-mount design has the added benefit of allowing the client to choose where they would like the terminal box mounted, on the top or on the left- or right-hand side, depending on electrical cable entry.
Bauer motors can also be fitted with an external brake for alternating current and direct current types.
BI’s being part of the Hudaco Group of companies enables it to leverage synergies across the range of companies and offer a wider product offering through its extensive branch network countrywide.
“For BI, it is all about the scope of our product offering, which extends far beyond our traditional bearings offer . . . because we look at our customers’ requirements holistically. It is also a great way of introducing our client base to the Hudaco Group,” Strobel enthuses.
He emphasises that this will become increasingly important amid the constrained state of the local economy and its effect on the mining industry.
Therefore, a significant challenge is to provide sufficient stock at the right times at the required locations, as “suppliers often quote very long lead times, and it is difficult to know exactly what we need to order for stock levels to meet client needs”.
Other challenges are prices being driven down by low cost competitors quoting for the same work, as well as the decrease in project business, adds Strobel.
He says the influence of the global economy is crucial, noting that the materials, bulk handling and logistics sector in South Africa is highly dependent on the Chinese economy, due to the global demand for mineral resources and South Africa’s export-grade products.
The current downtrend in the Chinese economy – caused by the US-China trade war – has resulted in declining demand for South Africa’s resources and bulk materials handling from source to harbour.
However, Strobel stresses that the relevant infrastructure still needs to be maintained, in order to keep the day-to-day business operational.
“Other growth opportunities for BI come from new conveyor products, such as idlers and rollers, which will be launched in the fourth quarter of this year,” he concludes.