South African company Condra Cranes & Hoists remains committed to supporting the local manufacturing industry, company MD Marc Kleiner tells Engineering News & Mining Weekly. “We buy locally from South African suppliers instead of importing components, and we believe other manufacturers should try to do the same. Importing component parts is not good for local industry into the future. Manufacturers need to support local suppliers more.”
The company also remains committed to the South and Southern African markets. But economic circumstances in these markets have required Condra to focus on mining markets beyond this country and region. “Mining markets in South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia are showing signs of stagnation at the moment,” he points out. “But we have a focus on the global mining markets, particularly those of South America and Asia, to maintain production so that a rise in mining activity in one region offsets a lull in another.
“The South African mining market is very important to us, of course, but it is not currently exhibiting its traditional performance in terms of growth. At the Cape Town Mining Indaba in February, we will be emphasising our commitment to the South African market and our efforts to grow it,” he assures.
Condra recently simultaneously announced that it had developed a fully automated overhead crane system and that it had delivered the first production system to Lonmin. The crane is at the miner’s Marikana platinum mine and is a 16 t, 16-m-span double-girder electric overhead travelling grabbing crane. At the time, Condra stated that it was primarily (but not exclusively) targeting its automated crane system at copper mines.
“It is not so much that we are prioritising the copper mines themselves, but rather that we are targeting tankhouses in the on-site refineries associated with those copper mines,” he explains. “Tankhouse crane movement comprises a move-hold-up-down, move-hold-up-down type of operation that transfers thousands of copper plates between set positions within the electrolytic refining process, something that is a comparatively simple, repetitive process easier for us to fully automate. So we prioritise it.”
The company is also seeking to market its automated cranes to other mining sectors for applications involving repetitive handling. In addition to refinery tankhouses, such applications can be found in storage facilities for refined metal ingots, specifically those lighter than gold – for example (in addition to copper), silver. Condra is seeking to provide automated management and handling for these ingot storage facilities.
Of course, mining is not the only sector interested in fully automated overhead cranes. They are ideal for any business that involves the positioning, storage and retrieval of objects. And this embraces warehousing. Shelf rows in warehouses have to be adequately separated to allow forklifts to move between them. A fully automated overhead crane system could replace the forklifts and make it possible to reduce the space between the shelves.