Fan company MechCaL is expanding its service and repair division in response to market demand.
Demand is being driven by the low-performing economy and a general downturn in the mining industry, prompting many mining clients to pursue ways of improving efficiencies and cutting costs on capital expenditure and, in turn, buying fewer new fans.
MechCaL’s expanded service will support mines and businesses by ensuring that the equipment that they rely on daily is always operational. The company simplifies the process of managing the required repairs by properly identifying issues, as well as repairing and promptly returning fans to working order to reduce downtime.
MechCaL spokesperson and MD Professor Jan du Plessis says the new division was conceptualised to ensure that clients get the best out of company products. Although it was MechCaL’s intention to expand its service offering since its inception, the service had to be backed by demand from clients, which has now materialised.
“The motivation behind this new service offering is to ensure that our products, old or new, perform optimally. This furthers our aim of providing the various industries that we supply with the most efficient fans possible,” says Du Plessis.
Also, he notes that MechCaL’s fans offer efficiencies of 80% to 82%, while older-generation fans have efficiencies of 40% to 65% at best.
“In the past, we have supported traditional fan repairers and we continue to do so, but it is becoming more common practice for original-equipment manufacturers to remain responsible for repairs on their own products. By doing that, the mines then receive a virtually new unit once it is repaired,” Du Plessis explains.
In July, MechCaL secured an agreement with platinum group metals producer Lonmin to provide a response service.
Du Plessis says MechCaL will carry out ad hoc repairs, but aims to sign dual contracts for supply and repair: “This will assist us in managing the long-term quality control of products supplied to the market. In the very difficult current mining market, this will enable us to expand our service offering while also creating an additional revenue stream.”
The types of repairs required by MechCaL’s clients differ widely and range from standard motor services and complete stripping to repair of damaged parts and repainting. The company also has the technical capabilities to extend repair services to fans supplied by other manufacturers.
MechCaL has created a dedicated space in its existing manufacturing facility to ensure that off-site repairs are handled by key staff, which will assist in providing prompt service for clients.
Fans Launched in Zambia
MechCaL announced last month that its fans are also available to the Zambian mining market.
“MechCaL has for quite some time had a policy of diversifying products and markets. The product diversification has progressed well, but pene- trating the smaller auxiliary fan market space outside South Africa has been a challenge,” says Du Plessis, adding that the company has started supplying products to mines in Zambia and that it is, positive that the quality and energy efficiency of its products will be valued as the “premium fan product” in the rest of Africa.
This announcement builds on the preliminary research into the Zambian market that MechCaL has been conducting over the past year. This included a demonstration, held in Kitwe, in April, of the company’s energy efficient 45 kW fan using an International Organisation for Standardisation test column to analyse its velocity, flow and pressure, and show its power-saving capabilities.
“We conducted the test in the presence of mining representatives from the surrounding areas and I believe that their reaction to our products was very positive. This definitely opened the door for MechCaL to begin exporting products to service the Zambian market,” says MechCaL head of marketing Gavin Ratner, who led the demonstration.
To ensure the smooth delivery and availability of fans to Zambia’s mining market, MechCaL has appointed Best Line Mining Supplies as its agent.
According to Tom Hight at Best Line, the company’s partnering with MechCaL will help alleviate demand for energy efficient products in the region.
“We decided to become MechCaL’s partner in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo owing to the level of innovation of products. Energy is becoming a concern in our region, with more demand for electricity than supply, coupled by a 30% energy increase in the 2014/15 year. This has encouraged Best Line to assist with client-assisted solutions to optimise the current mining operations,” he explains.
Du Plessis says MechCaL appointed Best Line because of its extensive involvement in ventilation in the sub-Saharan Africa region, with Best Line to supply the . . . 15 kW, 37 kW, 45 kW and 75 kW fans.
MechCaL fans have been installed at mining major Glencore’s Mopani Copper Mines. The preliminary order consisted of 17 fans, including five of MechCaL’s new Jet Fans, which were launched in 2014.
MechCaL can make its product offering available to any African country.