There is a trend towards maintenance contracts within the coal sector and this can largely be attributed to the need to contain costs and to optimise processes within plants.
Weir Warman Africa’s Witbank branch covers some 80% of Mpumalanga, 10% of Gauteng as well as the greater coalfields in the Witbank and Middleburg area. “This is an area where the majority of projects such as Goedgevonden, DMO and Phola are concentrated in the coal mining sector. Weir Warman Africa has secured the supply of all slurry pumps to Goedgevonden, all slurry pumps to DMO and the vertical spindle pumps to Phola Project,” Nico Smit, branch manager Weir Warman Africa Witbank, says.
“Our primary business in this region is slurry handling on opencast mines, quarries, collieries and underground mining operations as well as the power stations in the region. Typically the products sold into this area include slurry pumps as well as dewatering pumps,” Smit adds.
“Our customers’ core business in mining or quarrying is to extract ore and then beneficiate it while our core business is to supply and maintain slurry handling equipment including pumps. The advantage of having a maintenance contract is it ensures greater plant availability and allows mine artisans to concentrate on other equipment within the plant itself and not have to concern themselves with pump installations,” Smit explains.
“Experts from Weir Warman Africa will first assess the plant requirements and agree on the maintenance programme specifics together with the customer. Following the implementation of the maintenance programme, maintenance reports are sent to the customer on a regular basis and while they will differ from installation to installation it forms the basis of accurate management data from which recommendations can then be made to upgrade or optimise a particular application. This could include different materials of construction or liner materials,” Smit says.
“Our first maintenance contract was at Xstrata’s Waterpan Colliery more than two years ago and since then we have signed several other agreements with this customer as well as Anglo Coal and BHP Billiton, among others. The maintenance trend applies interestingly enough to both the large mining houses as well as the smaller emerging miners,” Smit adds.
“Our customers have the option of choosing between several types of maintenance contracts such as service exchange, available ex stock; normal field services; repairs on site and at the branch; and refurbishments at the branch,” Smit says.
The company has the capability to maintain all brands of pumps due to the level of expertise and experience which resides in its field service technicians. If a pump cannot be repaired on site it will then be sent to Weir Warman Africa’s Witbank branch for repair or refurbishment.
To minimise customer downtime, the service centre also offers service exchange pump units, which are available immediately. Service exchange can also be carried out on components such as bearing assemblies, pump bases and elastomer spares such as throat bushes, frame plate liner inserts and impellers in sizes from the Warman 3/2C upward.
“Service exchange is undertaken regardless of the condition of the item received from the customer and the service centre also buys back second-hand pumps, which are refurbished and either used as service exchange components, or sold as reconditioned units, both with the same 12 month guarantee as with new pumps,” Smit says. “The quality of rebuilt pumps is of a high standard, and we repair and return units within 7 to 14 days under normal circumstances.”
“Minimising downtime remains the key to increasing pump availability so by encouraging Weir Warman Africa pump users to utilise maintenance contracts we can together ensure that this goal is easily achieved,” Smit concludes.