As client requirements are paramount in the company’s approach to the equipment it designs, several criteria must be met.
These include that the equipment must meet or beat the customer’s specifications or requirements; it must work; it must be efficient in operating costs and maintenance; it must be simple and easy to maintain; it must offer value for money; and the equipment must be supported by service and spares back-up.
“For these reasons, we have become a leading supplier of drying equipment in South Africa, and have increased our exports to some 45% of our turnover,” says MD Waldo van Niekerk.
“One of our big challenges was to design and build dyers to operate within the Arctic Circle temperatures of –45 ˚C, the norm for the whole of winter,” he adds.
UV+IR dryers are operating in various parts of Canada, and the company’s technical director, Bert Nel, recently commissioned the Canadian Diavik diamond-mine dryers in the frozen North Western territories. “We have systems in North America, South America, Angola, the DRC, Tanzania, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Madagascar, Morocco, India, Saudi Arabia, as well as a recently-completed installation on the Alrosa diamond-mine in Russia,” explains Van Niekerk. Among the company’s clients are De Beers, Anglo American, Rio Tinto, Dowding Reynard & Associates, Bateman, ADP and Metso in the mining industry, and Mondi, DaimlerChrysler, Volkswagen, Ford and CTP in the industrial sector.
“Exports have been our toughest challenge as we have to compete with international contractors and suppliers in the industrial sector,” says Van Niekerk.
The company also manufactures ancillary equipment such as vibrating conveyors, dewatering screens and sorting screens. Van Niekerk says the biggest factor contributing to the progress of the company is the satisfactory experience of users of the company’s equipment in the field, as “nobody installs a second system if the first one does not perform”.
UV+IR Engineering applies its techniques in fields such as printing, packaging, automotive finishes and paints, paper drying, wood finishing and process heating.
Ultraviolet (UV) curing and drying is also a large and growing activity at the company.
This is a photochemical process rather than a heat process and finds application in the instant hardening of coatings such as varnish, inks and, most recently, fibreglass resins. Using the process here has ensured that the curing time has been reduced from hours to seconds. Van Niekerk sees a great future for this application of the company’s radiation expertise.
The application of UV curing can result in increased production from existing machines, as the slow rate of the drying of thinners of mineral-based coatings forms a bottleneck in production in a number of industries. By retrofitting a UV+IR system existing production can be increased enormously, eliminating the necessity for capital investment in new machinery, says Van Niekerk.