Conveyor belt cleaning equipment designer and manufacturing company Brelko, who has matured into a turnkey transfer point spillage-control solutions provider throughout its three decades of business, will maintain this successful business history going forward by continuing to invest in innovation, says MD and co-founder Kenny Padayachee.

“Investment into innovation is a key factor in Brelko’s successful business history and will continue to play a key role in the company’s future success,” he notes.

This article first appeared in Mining Elites in Africa 2019

What is often overlooked upon delivery of a final product is the innovation and technology that is applied during the manufacturing process.

“At Brelko, our manufacturing techniques utilise the latest software and machinery that is energy efficient and environmentally-friendly with little to no waste of raw materials.

“We will continue to develop innovative products using this manufacturing methodology to ensure ‘ultimate performance’ from our products,” says Padayachee.

Brelko is committed to providing the highest quality products and service and understands that product improvements enable its customers to establish and maintain a competitive advantage in the mining industry as well as boosting operational efficiencies and productivity within their operations.

“At Brelko, we view new technology and product innovation as essential, and we therefore continuously maintain a new product development schedule with the aim to produce products that are easy to handle and transport, that require less inspections and little to no maintenance, like our patented Belt Tracking System for conveyor belts,” says Brelko technical and CADD manage Riaan Rynders.

Developed to complementthe company’s existing range of spillage control products, the Belt Tracking System helps prevent spillage, conveyor belt damage and conveyor structural damage and has a direct impact on the mine or processing plants’ operating efficiency and conveyor maintenance costs.

Developed, designed and tested over a period of five years, the Belt Tracking System helps to re-align the conveyor belt, using gravity and friction. The Belt Tracking System reacts immediately when the centre of gravity of the conveyor belt shifts by up to 10 mm,” explains Rynders.

Embracing digital transformation

While Brelko’s products inherently require physical maintenance – the company has embraced digital transformation to streamline on-site information gathering by digitising its maintenance processes to make it simpler and faster for its field service teams.

In doing so, Brelko is going digital with the use of a mobile application for its field service teams, says Brelko software developerCraig Leader.

Through the development of a mobile application Brelko is able to go paperless in the collecting and processing of service waybills, job logging, equipment performance tracking, and information collection, which can now all be done electronically.

“By leveraging mobile technology, our service staff can submit and process information from anywhere in the world,” Leader notes, adding that the mobile application is able to gather data from the man-on-the-ground and transform it into usable information that can be sent to the relevant decision makers as quickly as possible.

“This will take the turnaround time of generating information for our customers from two months, to nearly instantaneous,” Leader enthuses.

 As an unintended result of digitising the day-to-day processes, an electronic history of the actions performed on a conveyor belt during maintenance can now be accessed more easily and used by service staff to better troubleshoot possible issues on site.

The mobile application, currently in its first iteration, is undergoing continuous development to meet both Brelko’s needs, as well as the needs of its customers.

A continuation of the development of the application was started in March 2018, which aims to create a fully-fledged service automation platform able to schedule work for staff, create site visit reports, for stock control, time tracking as well as various other site-related tasks to streamline customer service.

African growth

As a means to maintain momentum across the African continent, Brelko plans to grow and empower its agent network throughout Africa.

“Equipping our agents with the necessary product knowledge, selling skills and stock has been, and will continue to be, a winning formula,” says Brelko area manager for USA and Africa Brent Weller.

Brelko has over the last ten years grown consistently, with Africa’s contribution playing an increasingly important role. Integral to this growth is Brelko’s agents – who are all well-equipped and highly motivated.

With an impressive foothold in the SADC region, Brelko has over time cultivated ongoing business in Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Malawi, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Ghana and Tanzania.

Brelko’s existing agent network includes:

Egypt: Petrolia

Morocco: Petrolia

Ghana: Alshtech Services

Democratic Republic of Congo: Mickem Consulting

Zambia: Conveyor Engineering & Equipment

Zimbabwe: Hilmax

Namibia: Sepp Thalmaier

Botswana: Etuba Engineering

More recently, Brelko has been targeting the MENA economic region, which comprises 22 countries from the Middle East and north Africa. This region will contribute significantly to Brelko’s continued growth in the next five years, says Weller.

“Selling in Africa is a difficult and an expensive exercise, so keeping our client content once they have purchased our products is vital. Our industry is heavily dependent on service, so keeping all the installed product performing optimally helps to cements these hard fought for sales,” Weller notes.

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