In-house engineering capability as well as capacity is a cornerstone of the global success of leading chute designer and manufacturer Weba Chute Systems.
“What has always set us apart, especially in the local market, is that transfer points are our dedicated focus,” says Alwin Nienaber, technical director at Weba Chute Systems. “Underpinning this strength is our highly specialised and experienced design and engineering team, equipped with the latest tools to keep the company at the leading edge of technology.”
Nienaber highlights that it is this expertise that allows the company to custom engineer its solutions based on the specific and exacting requirements of each application. While the standard theoretical formulas and technical calculations can be easily sourced by anyone, he says, it is the practical experience and proprietary knowledge that adds real value.
“Over the past decades – during which we have supplied over 5000 chutes worldwide – we have built a wealth of practical experience,” he says. “We invest this in the design of every chute, so that customers benefit from the considerable ‘school fees’ that we have paid over time.”
By sharing performance feedback from the field, the company’s drawing office and design team works to continuously improve transfer point solutions. The engineering process also demands a close working relationship with each customer.
“Our success depends on accurate and reliable data from the customer – as they know their plant, process and material better than anyone,” he says. “This collaboration is indispensable for us, as we need this vital input to inform and guide our engineering parameters. The customer is very much part of reaching our engineering targets.”
The internal capability is enhanced by ongoing training and mentoring of staff, so that decades of learning can be passed on to new generations of specialists in the company. While designs are developed using the latest three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) software, the team also leverages discrete element modelling (DEM) as a verification tool to simulate and prove the functionality of the design.
The company makes extensive use of 3D scanning to achieve accurate measurements of the operating environment for each chute. This equipment is regularly updated, allowing for these scans to be performed in a fraction of the time possible just a few years ago, he says. Processing of the point cloud for CAD operability can also be performed much more efficiently by the latest technologies, making the designers’ work even more efficient.
“The depth and versatility of our expertise was recently demonstrated in a specialised chute application for a local platinum mining customer,” says Nienaber. “Working in conjunction with a hydraulics specialist, we provided a chute solution for an application where low-grade ore on a conveyor had to be rapidly diverted to a secondary stockpile. This test project involved two chutes, a high-pressure actuator and a high-speed trolley mechanism, to meet the mine’s material grade requirements.”