With African mines often based in remote and desolate locations, it is beneficial to have on-site products and services, especially since mines have a high consumption rate of consumables.
Therefore, hydraulics, pneumatics and automation products and services provider Hytec Services Africa (HSA) – a Hytec Group company – developed its mine site-based containerised hose workshops, which offer hoses and fittings, as well as hydraulics services, all in one container.
HSA Africa mining services and operations manager Charlie Harrison tells Mining Weekly that the mine site services concept in Africa stemmed from mines’ intensive use of hydraulics and related components without having manufacturers or service providers nearby.
Although mines often have established hose and fittings service providers on site, Hytec’s containerised workshops also offer hydraulics services, as well as the full complement of Hytec, and Hytec parent company Bosch Rexroth, products.
The containers vary in size between 20 ft and 40 ft, and offer services, including Hytec’s hydraulic cylinder service exchange programme that provides services for pumps, filtration systems, drives, valves, piston motors and hydraulic maintenance tools. Other hydraulic components, deemed necessary by the mine, can also be stocked.
The bulk of the container’s standard contents include start-up hose fittings and adaptors, start-up hose stock, crimping and cutoff machines, as well as a manual engraver, hose rack, hose-cleaning projectile kit and projectile stock, necessary tooling and a 2 m × 6 m bolt-on side canopy.
Harrison remarks that the canopy is used to accommodate the hose cutoff machine, which is normally situated outside the container to adhere to most mines’ health and safety regulations.
The containers are manned by trained and locally sourced staff members, depending on the site location, and have amenities, such as air conditioning, electric outlets and an extractor fan to assist in creating more comfortable working conditions. One such site operation can accomodate four staff members, while bigger operations have up to ten staff members to provide stock and services.
Additional standard contents include a tool cabinet and workshop tools, storage bins and shelving, measuring instruments, a display board and a whiteboard with markers. Office furniture – with amenities such as a bar fridge – is included, as well as a standard fire extinguisher.
Harrison explains that it takes about four weeks to manufacture one container, and up to three months to be fully mobilised on the mine site. Hytec endeavours to have at least one container available for immediate shipment at any time.
He points out that, if a Hytec container workshop is based in a country without established Hytec branch infrastructure, then the container itself becomes the stockholding or country base.
“If the mine is in an inaccessible area, as many are in East, West and North Africa, the containers and their configuration allow for supplementary stockholdings, owing to extended and difficult supply routes.”
Being permanently on site, Hytec personnel are part of a client’s operations, making the company the first port of call for hydraulic services and equipment, says Harrison.
“Clients have our hydraulic service offering on their doorstep for immediate turnaround and delivery, and we separate our product pricing and service fees, so there are no hidden costs for clients,” he notes.
A contract for this type of service and product offering will usually be for between two and three years, and this is where the advantage of having a mobile workshop becomes apparent.
“If a contract is not renewed, it is relatively easy to pack up and pick up the container for relocation to another site, which can be done fairly quickly,” highlights Harrison.
“When our services are no longer needed, it would be similar to a contract having expired. Essentially, it is a win-win for both parties,” he adds.
The container remains the property of Hytec and is either being moved to the next site or being shipped back to company branches once the service contract has expired.
Meanwhile, Hytec has submitted a containerised workshop tender to a mining house in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with similar tenders also having been submitted to mining houses in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Ghana.
Through a Bosch Rexroth Africa expansion initiative into Africa, Hytec branch operations have been opened in Kenya and Ghana, and an established Bosch Rexroth operation in Morocco also services Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt. There are also distributors in other African countries.