MAJOR EXPORT ORDER SIGNALS KWATANI’S LEADERSHIP

Competing with leading OEMs from around the world, vibrating screen specialist OEM Kwatani has snatched a mammoth export order for over 70 screens. The order was signed in April with a large copper mine in central Asia, which boasts a production rate of 35 million tons a year. According to Kwatani general manager sales and service Jan Schoepflin, the machines will be rolled out and delivered over a tight schedule of just eight months. Kwatani, now part of the Sandvik group, is already hard at work manufacturing the large and medium-sized screens at its South African manufacturing facility.

“This is Kwatani’s largest order to date and is probably the largest single order for screens ever placed on a company in Africa,” says Schoepflin. “We are proud to have won such a prestigious bid in the face of intense competition, showing how our global reputation has been growing.”

The order is for large double-deck multi-slope screens, which feed high pressure grinding rolls (HPGRs), as well as for single-deck linear screens feeding concentrators. The screens in this order will installed on isolation frames to minimise the extent to which dynamic loads affect the plant’s building structures. Kwatani is well known for its design, manufacture and servicing of large, robust screens which are engineered for tonnage.

“As the largest OEM for vibrating screens and feeders in Africa, we have had great success on the continent and abroad with our large ‘banana’ screens,” he says. “These and our other custom engineered screens have been supplied to over 50 countries to date.”

The stringent and lengthy technical adjudication for this project was conducted for the mine by two leading international project engineering houses. The size and value of the order ensured that all the mining industry’s foremost screen suppliers were enthusiastic participants in the bid. Other indicators of the order’s scale are that the screens will consume around 700 tonnes of steel, and will altogether be fitted with 21,000 screening panels.

Schoepflin notes that an important consideration for customers is not only the proven quality and performance of its screens, but Kwatani’s ability to deliver on time.

“Any large capital expenditure decision on a mine is taken with time-sensitive factors in mind,” he says. “For instance, the delayed delivery of critical equipment can prevent a mine from meeting its planned production targets. This undermines the financial basis for that decision – an eventuality that no mine can afford.”

The end-customer and the project houses therefore had to have full confidence in Kwatani’s capacity. With growing demand from a buoyant mining sector, the company recently added another 3,000 m2 to its existing 17,000 m2 facility in Spartan, Johannesburg. Its design and manufacturing capabilities are ISO 9001:2015 certified, ensuring that the latest order to Asia will comply with the highest global standards, he says.

“We also pride ourselves on the quality and resilience of our supply chain, which underpins our ability to manufacture to demanding deadlines,” he says. “We carefully select our supply partners – most of whom are local enterprises – and collaborate closely with them to build their sustainability and responsiveness.”

To keep the project’s schedule on track, dedicated in-house project managers and procurement specialists meet regularly with supply partners to ensure a smooth and streamlined process. This has required perfect alignment of all local and global procurement, including motors, drives and steel. The company’s agility allowed contracts and prices to be tied down for timeous delivery, despite the global supply chain disruption that lingers from the Covid-19 lockdowns.

“The scale of the mine’s operation indicates that screen efficiency, throughput and performance will be paramount,” he says. “We subject all our vibrating equipment to rigorous tests in our in-house testing facilities prior to dispatch.”

This, he explains, enables customers to achieve continuous tonnage while protecting its assets and reducing the total cost of ownership. Even before manufacturing stage, each design is subjected to Finite Element Analysis (FEA) as a standard procedure to verify engineering integrity.

Reflecting the journey of the screens from inception to operation, each screen has its own ‘data book’. This carefully tracks each input – whether human or material – into the construction of the screen, for quality and referral purposes. The name of each welder and their certification is recorded, for instance, along with the source and specification of the steel used.

“As the screens are delivered, Kwatani service technicians will supervise their installation and commissioning on site, as part of our customer support,” says Schoepflin. “Our specialists will witness the cold commissioning – running without load – as well as hot commissioning with full load. We will confirm everything is running to specification and to customer expectations.”

Kwatani will conduct training of the mine staff in maintenance and troubleshooting, so that they can fulfil these essential duties independently. The mine will be able to source all the necessary spares from Kwatani, who will also send an engineer or technician to site to supervise and sign off on certain major tasks.

Meeting delivery deadlines and avoiding penalties will require detailed logistical planning for the completed units, he notes. The screens will be delivered in batches to a South African port, and shipped as break bulk due to their size. Production of the screens is expected to be complete by early 2023.

The Kwatani assembly facility packed to capacity with vibrating screens.

A full and busy assembly shop floor at Kwatani.

Kwatani’s busy assembly workshop floor.

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