The introduction of compressed-air equipment manufacturer Artic Driers International’s new SA Series heatless pressure swing air dryers has sparked significant interest in the South African mining sector, says CEO Allen Cockfield.
“Local mining engineers like the tough, simple, local build because it is easier to service. Moreover, the supply chain for parts is far more reliable, especially because the air freight industry is still in a state of turmoil because of the impact of Covid-19,” he elaborates.
The new range is manufactured in South Africa to international standards. The dryers are designed to achieve a pressure dew point of –40 ºC and be desiccant rich, with low internal velocities and long contact times to ensure that the pressure dew point performance is reached.
To get the most out of any air dryer, it is important to ensure that the incoming air is below 45 ºC and is prefiltered to at least 5 μm before entering the dryer, says Cockfield.
“The lower the compressed-air temperature, the better the air quality entering the mine’s system. It is also vital to ensure that the airflow into the air dryer is within the specification of the dryer. Overloading of airflow will cause immense problems,” he explains.
The SA Series is designed to address these complexities in a simple manner.
Cockfield says the design is deliberately simple, comprising two shuttle valves and two depressurisation pneumatically powered angle seat valves to ensure reliable and effective operation.
The series features valves that are protected by an inline coalescing air filter, which is mounted on a heavy-duty bracket. Moreover, the inlet and outlet vessel strainers are laser cut and fabricated from stainless steel, which prevents desiccant migration from the vessels.
Additionally, the dryers’ frames are built to allow them to be shipped in the horizontal position, making long-distance transportation simple and safe.
All SA Series dryers are built for a maximum working pressure of 13 bar, with an IP 45-rated 220/1/50 Hz panel, which has a simple adjustable timer sequence. The fully adjustable control panel timing sequences can be changed easily on site if needed.
The factory setting is a National Electrical Manufacturers Association eight-minute cycle, in an IP23 housing, although higher rated housings can be provided if requested.
Artic Driers International can also provide an alternative control panel that provides pressure dew point display and control, as well as a 24Vdc-powered control system.
Ranging from 3 m3/min to 56 m3/min at pressures reaching up to 13 bar, the SA Series meets a variety of client specifications, including those of the mining industry.
The smaller, modular HDD series dryers of less than 3 m3/min will continue to be imported from Malaysia.
The SA Series was launched to reduce the company’s dependence on Asian supply chains that were “in poor shape” after the Covid-19 outbreak, says Cockfield.
The less South African companies import, buying local instead, the better it is for the local economy – this is emphasised all the more by the pandemic and the effects it has had on economies globally, and on transportation, he adds.
“By dealing with companies, such as Artic Driers International, the mining industry can support local companies and local employment,” notes Cockfield, who claims that most of the company’s competitors import all compressed-air treatment equipment.
“In some cases, importing might lower the sales price, but it does nothing for the local economy or the growth of the country.”
Artic Driers International offers a variety of compressed-air dryers to various industries, including the mining industry, specialising in refrigeration dryers and heatless pressure swing dryers in various sizes.
In addition to filtration, these dryers remove water, airborne debris and oils from the compressed-air stream before it enters a mine or recovery plant.
“Compressed-air dryers are essential, especially in the precious metals recovery industry, as they ensure that the control and instrumentation equipment continues to function without outages.”
He says contaminated compressed-air can cost a company hundreds of thousands of rands a year in damaged control and instrumentation because air dryers remove thousands of litres of water and other contaminants yearly to ensure smooth operation of plants.
“Many of the larger corporate air treatment supply chains have suffered multiple takeovers and amalgamations. They might have vast financial muscle but, in many cases, have become distant in terms of their clients,” Cockfield notes.
By comparison, Artic Driers International staff are available “24/7, year round”.
Further, every dryer sold translates to an automatic donation of 2% of the sales value to nonprofit organisation Stop Rhino Poaching.
Over the past eight months, the company has donated more than R80 000.