Increased focus on pumps training, new opportunities in 2015 – industry body

30th January 2015 By: Mia Breytenbach - Creamer Media Deputy Editor: Features

Increased focus on pumps training, new opportunities in 2015 – industry body

LORRAINE SMART Mine staff, pumps artisans and engineers should be trained to identify problems in the mining industry in terms of application and installation

The Southern African Pump Systems Development Association (Sapsda) will continue to focus on development – particularly upskilling and training – in the Southern African pumps industry this year.

“Training is key within an industry, as it is a way of ensuring sustainability for the future,” Grundfos marketing manager and newly appointed Sapsda chairperson Lorraine Smart tells Mining Weekly, noting the outcry for training and a greater focus on service in the local mining and municipal sectors.

The mining industry, in addition to focusing on replacing equipment, such as pumps, seems to be focusing more on service and repair aspects and the correct operation and installation of the equipment owing to budget allocation before buying new products. “Along with the replacement of a new pump, mines install hire pumps for short periods as an alternative solution to their current situation,” Smart says, attributing this trend to several possible reasons, including funding.

In light of this, she believes that the association and, subsequently, industry should give special attention to upskilling, with a focus on service.

She says downtime will be significantly reduced if pumps companies can assist the mines in identifying problems, implementing simple solutions or offering solutions which can pinpoint the problems on site.

“These skills have been lost and if we don’t focus on training, we, as an industry, will lose these skills,” Smart warns, reiterating that not enough is being done to encourage younger generations to become artisans.

Although local pumps manufacturing member companies still constitute the majority of the association, Sapsda has revised its membership policy to enable individual members, and not only companies, to also join to enhance the association’s visibility and boost membership.

“Sapsda encourages consultants to join the association, as we believe they will be able to assist in transferring skills and knowledge,” Smart says.

While the association’s training courses include pumps installation, pumps testing, and the pumping of liquids containing solids and acids, Sapsda is focusing on obtaining course accreditation with the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Merseta) going forward.

“The accreditation will also assist registered members, mechanical engineers and artisans [in boosting] their continuous development points obtained from the Sapsda courses,” she adds.

Sapsda’s introductory course for newcomers to the industry “focuses on teaching learners about the basic principles of pumps, specifically from a practical point of view, while the advanced course comprehensively covers all aspects of the pumps industry, including topics such as hydraulics application and affinity laws”, former Sapsda chairperson Thys Wehmeyer told Mining Weekly in June.

Call for Change
Other association focus areas for this year include increased and enhanced collaboration with government, Merseta and the Department of Trade and Industry, while the South African Pump Cluster aims to promote local manufacturing and develop strong local companies that are competitive in the export markets.

Nevertheless, Smart emphasises a call for change within the association and encourages new opportunities for the pumps industry: “These include a possible focus on encouraging local innovation.”

She reiterates that, while several international pumps manufacturers focus on innovation, research and development abroad, “knowledge transfer is key in our space as an association”.

Further, there is significant potential for pumps companies regarding the acid mine drainage (AMD) problem, Smart says, noting that the Department of Water and Sanitation has allocated an estimated R10-billion to mitigate AMD in the Witwatersrand goldfields through short-term, long-term and emergency solutions.

“As one of the steps of the solution process would be to pump the acid, it may be time for government, the mines and the pumps companies, including the association, to collaborate and solve the problem,” she suggests.

Another potential focus area could also include increased awareness and advocacy of the energy efficiency of pumps. This is an aspect that can, and should, be addressed in training courses, particularly in the pumps motor module, Smart highlights.

“Mine staff, pumps artisans and engineers should be trained to identify problems in the mining industry in terms of application and installation, and replace old pumps with more efficient units with premium efficiency- (IE3-) compliant energy ratings,” she says.

Pumps’ energy motors rated IE3 are are categorised under the energy-using products, or EuP, directive, which measures the level of environmental impact of technologies, such as motors and pumps, and promotes energy efficiency.