NEPEAN Conveyors South Africa General Manager Willem Niemandt provides an insight into the innovative solutions the team are providing to customers in Africa.
NEPEAN is renowned for its rugged and proven underground conveyor systems and components. In the current economic climate, we have really seen the term “sweating your assets” in practice where clients have had to push every piece of equipment to the limits to ensure survival. It has also become necessary to seriously look at the refurbishment of equipment instead of replacement. Conveyors and Conveyor Components are not often equipment that is considered for refurbishment largely due to the design and construction of these systems.
The NEPEAN underground equipment is specifically designed for the harsh realities of underground mining operations and therefore lends itself perfectly to refurbishment during its life cycle. Our modular design concept further supports the possibilities and viability of extending the life of the equipment. The added advantages related to the environmental impact of being able to refurbish and to re-cycle items that has been damaged beyond repair goes without saying.
NEPEAN Conveyors South Africa recently successfully refurbished three underground trunk conveyors for one of our Coal clients. These conveyors have been in operation for approximately ten years in harsh underground coal mining operations. The refurbishment restored these structures and mechanical items back to its original OEM specification.
The capital saving to refurbish the conveyors versus the replacement is significant considering the current market conditions and struggles to secure capital. Clients further benefit from quicker delivery of a refurbished component versus new and installation time is reduced as the mine crew is already familiar with the equipment and structures.
Defining the refurbishment scope upfront is critical and will determine the life extension of the equipment. In this case the client requirement was to reinstate the equipment back to its original OEM standard. All steel structures were inspected, and unfit parts replaced with new sections. Once an entire system component such as a drive or loading point had been refurbished the entire structure was assembled and checked in the NEPEAN workshop.
The structural components were then sent for corrosion protection where the old galvanising was chemically stripped and re-galvanised to SANS 121:2011. Mechanical components were similarly assessed to determine if it is fit for refurbishment. New equipment was installed where equipment was uneconomical to repair. In every case the refurbish VS replace decisions were made in close collaboration with the client.
Once back from the Galvanising process the structures were fully assembled and all mechanical components installed for final inspection. Fully assembled modules were then shipped to the mine – ready to go underground and restart the life cycle.
We look forward to seeing these modules again in ten years or more to give them another lease of life.
Picture 1: Combination of old and new structures
Picture 2: Old drive structure pre-assembled
Picture 3: Newly refurbished drive structure