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Much demand for Africa-tough drive package

12th July 2019

By: Tracy Hancock

Creamer Media Contributing Editor

     

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Drive engineering company SEW-Eurodrive has more active projects in the rest of Africa, than in South Africa, exports head Marcio Sicchiero tells Mining Weekly.

Involved in the delivery of conveyor drive assemblies to various greenfield and expansion projects across a range of commodities on the continent, the company has developed good relationships with engineering project houses, leading to repeat business, he says.

SEW-Eurodrive notes significant activity in North Africa, known for its gold, copper, iron-ore, zinc and other heavy mineral sands, with the region serviced by the company’s European division, states Sicchiero.

Headquartered in Bruchsal, Germany, the global company has designed standard products for most operating conditions, including drives that can withstand Africa’s higher operating temperatures of up to 45 ºC.

On the continent, the SEW-Eurodrive Johannesburg regional office, in South Africa, is responsible for 23 countries, from Southern to East Africa. With an office in Tanzania, SEW-Eurodrive also intends to open an office in Kenya next year.

While West Africa is not on the radar as yet, Sicchiero stated in a press release last month that agents representing the company are in the region.

In Zambia, the company recently supplied a multimillion-rand order of 42 units for a cement producer. These units include geared motors, planetary units, and industrial gear (IG) units from 7.5 kW to 250 kW. Fifteen customised IG units were supplied by SEW-Eurodrive Finland, while other units were sourced from Germany.

Sicchiero says the exports division not only achieved its sales targets for 2018 but also showed sustained growth since its inception. “The reason for our ongoing success in Africa is that we not only meet all of our clients’ requirements – product training and proactive maintenance are critical focuses as well.”

In Africa, it is common for mining operations to wait until a component breaks before undertaking maintenance, instead of adopting a proactive approach, he says.

The most difficult part for projects in Africa is getting units to SEW-Eurodrive for maintenance.

Subsequently, mines undertake their own maintenance, which Sicchiero says is not beneficial, as this maintenance is not always performed correctly.

However, depending on visa requirements for individual countries, an engineer or technician can be dispatched within 24 hours if need be. SEW-Eurodrive also guarantees its maintenance work, Sicchiero emphasises.

Using standardised drives at remote mining operations in Africa reduces lead times when conducting maintenance, he notes, as SEW-Eurodrive endeavours to keep common drive sizes in stock.

South African Delivery

A project that will enjoy this benefit is a greenfield coal mine, in Belfast, Mpumalanga, to which SEW-Eurodrive supplied 27 bolt-on drive assemblies for its entire conveyor-belt system.

The drives include client-supplied motors and fluid couplings, gearboxes, base plates and guards. The bolt-on solution improves the ease of maintenance and installation, requiring no additional alignment or interfacing to attach the solution to the conveyor, project sales representative Bruce Farthing tells Mining Weekly.

The order was placed by an engineering project house at the beginning of 2018 and was delivered in January this year, after assembly at SEW-Eurodrive’s Nelspruit facility. “This branch will be able to provide servicing as and when the client needs it,” states Farthing.

SEW-Eurodrive enjoyed a longer-than-usual lead time, which helped it clarify general arrangement drawings and lead times from suppliers, as well as ensure that products were faultless before being delivered, negating problems on site.

Sold with a commissioning package, all the drives will be cold commissioned, which includes the checking of alignment, before hot commissioning takes place. This process takes two hours for every drive and should be undertaken soon.

SEW-Eurodrive supplied four long- travel drives and 23 conveyor drives, providing drive capacities from 5 kW to 160 kW.

“Various configurations were required. Some of the drives are torque-arm mounted, while others have base-plates with torque arms, where fluid couplings attach the motor to the gearbox. The torque-arm mounted drives are controlled by a variable-speed drive, while the fluid couplings allow for a direct start,” states Farthing.

The largest drive SEW-Eurodrive supplied required an ancillary cooler to allow for additional cooling capacity, owing to the amount of power being put through the drive’s gearbox.

Farthing says this drive is for a conveyor with a higher operating capacity and longer distance to travel. It will carry more tons an hour than the other drives supplied.

As the drives are operating on a coal mine, where volatile coal fines are prevalent, they include suitable sealing arrangements to ensure safe operation and extend the life of the drives.

Edited by Mia Breytenbach
Creamer Media Deputy Editor: Features

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