Flexibility top of mind for manufacturer

15th September 2023 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Deputy Editor Online

Flexibility top of mind for manufacturer

WHAT GOES IN Research and development is undertaken by not only an in-house team but also a group of the organisation’s own PhD engineering students

With shifting operational conditions, including changing ore grades and the persistent need for increased throughput, original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) Weir Minerals’ pump products GM Marnus Koorts highlights the importance of flexibility and interchangeability of components for large-scale pumps.

To enhance its product range, about 1.3% of the global revenue is channelled into product development. Koorts explains that the current research prioritises extended life, reduced gland water supply, hydraulic improvements for energy enhancement and ergonomics for ease of handling.

Aiming to serve the mining industry better, Weir Minerals consistently enhances its pump systems, focusing on energy efficiency and ergonomic design. This, in turn, expedites installations – a critical consideration for customers.

Facilitating this, the modularised components of the Warman mill circuit pump allows easier installation as well as maintenance. And in many cases reduced crane capacity is required during maintenance activities.

The company’s strategic investments have not only shortened installation time but also brought effective technical support closer to customers. This has been achieved through a region-centric supply chain across Africa supported by its 20 branches and service centres.

Weir Minerals has innovatively designed its Warman mill circuit pumps to feature adaptable low-flow liner capabilities. This design permits easy upgrades to standard liners, enabling adjustments to the pump's flow rate in response to rising throughput, all while maintaining the integrity of the initial installation. Moreover, pump components can be seamlessly interchanged if modifications or replacements are needed.

Weir Minerals leverages local manufacturing infrastructure, ensuring minimal dependency on imports. This approach fortifies its supply chain, especially vital as global events have threatened industries’ supply chains universally.

Research and development (R&D) is undertaken by not only an in-house team but also a group of the organisation’s own PhD engineering students – an effort which Koorts believes affords the group a fresh perspective and more innovative approaches to solutions.

He adds that product enhancement and R&D are informed by customer requirements across the sub-Saharan Africa region, adding that it often amounts to product improvements across the global organisation.

A prominent example of a successful R&D endeavour is Weir Minerals’ demonstrating rubber as its preferred lining material for larger mill circuit pumps. Although the company also offers metal liners, it has found rubber to be lighter, more cost effective and more effective in handling impact for larger particles.

The Warman mill circuit pump, renowned for its reliability and low total cost of ownership, has become a preferred choice among numerous plants in Africa. Koorts, however, stresses that selecting the right components and OEM support is crucial for a pump’s cost effective and optimal functionality.

In this regard, Weir Minerals boasts a dedicated team proficient in on-site pump upgrades. These skilled individuals are trained to use sophisticated techniques, such as three-dimensional scanning, to visualise spatial requirements and optimal pump integration within a facility.

Additionally, computational fluid dynamic analysis for slurry flow ensures customers can reap the full benefits of the Warman pump innovations. Moreover, potential enhancements can be simulated before actual implementation.

Yet, Koorts cautions against incorrect selection of drivetrain components for a pump, such as the motor or gearbox, warning that missteps could result in plant breakdowns or even plant failure. This highlights the company’s thorough approach to pump selection, paired with its monitoring and maintenance offering across the pump’s life span.

“Mill circuit pumps are not generic solutions; they demand tailored engineering for optimal performance under each site’s specific operating conditions,” he states.

Weir Minerals’ product and technical service offering has been developed and refined over decades of operational experience, with an unwavering dedication to meeting ever-evolving customer requirements.