Sandvik's drifter workshop team and support staff.
At the heart of South Africa’s historic mining capital of Johannesburg, is a team of Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology professionals.

The Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology team is so extraordinary that just a six men maintain the rock drills on a large portion of the country’s drill rig fleets.

Unsurprisingly, Sandvik South Africa’s dedicated drifter workshop is among the most productive of its type within the group globally, having the capability to repair and rebuild up to 70 drifter units per month.

The workshop is expected to reach a target in excess of 800 units this year.

Drifter workshop foreman, Adam Matlala, says the reasons for the workshop’s success are many, but attributes the high level of experience, skills and discipline as the most important ones.

“It takes a special kind of person to do this job. Someone who has the ability to assess and test every part of a drifter to ensure it will work within factory tolerances.”

“They must also do it quickly and accurately to ensure that all faulty parts and potentially problematic ones are replaced, not just the most obvious ones. Fortunately, our team has this ability and has the right equipment, processes and procedures to ensure that the job is done correctly first time around,” he says.

It does not end there. In the process of inspecting each drifter that is booked in for repairs, the team simultaneously compiles a comprehensive failure report that determines the most likely causes of the failure, adding value to the customer by information sharing that allows the customer to action changes to extend the life of the drifter.

Frik Erasmus, drifter and components workshop manager, says as a result of the quality of service received from the Drifter Workshop, they are seeing a peak in drifter repairs largely as a result of returning business from customers who are beginning to see the value of OEM repairs.

“They return when they see that drifters repaired by us last up to three times longer than those repaired by third party providers,” says Erasmus.

“They also enjoy the benefit of having their machines brought up to date with the latest updates and enhancements as per Sandvik’s latest factory briefs. Also, the comprehensive tests that we undertake on our own OEM test benches ensure everything is working exactly as it should be. It proves that a quick fix is not always a lasting fix”, Erasmus says.

As for the secret of the workshops’ success, operations manager, Andre van der Heever, suggests that it is as a result of passion, exceptional team spirit and the fact that everything is systems driven, has a dedicated place, time and procedure.

“Apart from the speed of work, our team works accurately and correctly; with some of the drifters that we repaired in 2004 still being in operation today – that says a lot about the quality of work carried out here,” concludes van der Heever.