Tag Archives: Kim Schoepflin

Kwatani problem solving doubles diamond mine’s screening feed rate

Kwatani says it has helped a South Africa diamond operation double the feed rate of its degrit screen through the use of one of its customised solutions.

The customer was operating several multi-slope screens to dewater product between 0.8 mm and 5 mm in size, before it was treated by dense medium separation (DMS). However, the screens were causing a severe carry-over of water onto the conveyor belt to the DMS, according to the South Africa-based OEM.

“The feed rate on each screen was being limited to about 250 t/h,” Kwatani CEO, Kim Schoepflin, said. “We tackled this by designing and manufacturing a customised multi-slope screening machine to fit the customer’s existing footprint.”

Schoepflin said Kwatani’s replacement was able to double the feed rate to about 500 t/h, with minimal water carry-over.

As a result of the success of this unit, the customer requested Kwatani to replace the whole bank of screens, it said.

In another contract, a customer asked for assistance with underperforming screens that could not deliver the original design parameters. They also wanted to increase the tonnage throughput by 17%, according to the company.

“We conducted a careful evaluation in collaboration with the customer, and came up with an innovative and economical solution,” Schoepflin said. “Simply replacing the existing screens with Kwatani’s new larger screens would have been costly and time consuming, so we decided instead to replace the screen’s existing gearboxes.”

The replacement gearboxes delivered greater vibration, but without exceeding the output torque the existing motors driving the gearboxes could provide.

“Drawing from our portfolio of locally designed and manufactured exciter gearboxes, we were able to implement this solution very quickly,” she said. “The two new exciter gearboxes were delivered to site and were in operation within two weeks – successfully and immediately increasing the screen’s throughput.”

The benefits to the customer did not stop there, according to Schoepflin. The newly optimised operating parameters meant the material bed depth was lower, so the drive motors drew a lower amperage and reduced the cost of power consumed.

“Our customised screening and feeding solutions – developed by our in-house team of experienced mechanical engineers and metallurgists – are based on consultation with each customer,” she explained. “The result is a design that delivers the optimal processing performance and tonnage at the lowest cost of ownership.”

Kwatani screens and feeders tackle manganese ore in South Africa

As a vital aspect of a plant expansion at a manganese mine in the Northern Cape of South Africa, Kwatani says it is supplying four heavy duty vibrating screens and 10 feeders to help boost throughput.

According to Kwatani CEO, Kim Schoepflin, this large-scale equipment is custom-designed and engineered for tonnage to meet the mine’s challenging operational requirements.

“Manganese ore is very demanding on vibrating screens as it has a high specific gravity and is also very abrasive,” Schoepflin says. “Our machines are engineered to perform the application’s duty requirement while being robust enough to deliver maximum uptime.”

The units being supplied include a 3.6 m double-deck scalping screen, a 3 m double-deck screen, a 2.4 m screen and a 1.8 m dewatering screen. A local OEM that has designed and engineered vibrating screens for over four decades, Kwatani has built a reputation for world-class expertise and capability, it says.

“Customers choose us for our engineering track record – developing technology that can manage the tonnages they require,” Schoepflin says. “This means understanding each mine’s specific conditions, and then building a design to meet a range of complex mechanical and metallurgical factors.”

The order to the mine is being rolled out on time and on specification to the customer’s satisfaction, according to Kwatani COO, Kenny Mayhew-Ridgers.

“The efficiency and quality of our work process allows us to design, manufacture and deliver custom-designed screens in the same timeframes that other OEMs deliver standard models,” Mayhew-Ridgers said.

This is particularly demanding as custom-designed equipment undergo an intensive design process after being verified by rigorous finite element analysis in-house, Kwatani says. Prior to dispatch, all units endure intensive testing before being commissioned on a customer’s site. For this reason, Kwatani boasts its own in-house advanced testing facilities at its Kempton Park facility, in South Africa. Aligned to ISO 9001 standards, the testing protocols have been developed in-house with decades of experience. This allows full testing similar to cold commissioning, even before delivery to site.

Kwatani stresses importance of screen servicing

To ensure uptime on critical equipment, maintenance contracts are becoming an ever-more popular choice, according to vibrating equipment OEM, Kwatani.

The South Africa-based company should know, as it has customised contracts in place to service over 500 of its machines in the Northern Cape alone.

“Vibrating screens are critical to a mine’s material flow, which is its lifeblood,” Kwatani CEO Kim Schoepflin, says. “This requires OEMs to be experts, not just in design and manufacture, but in service support and maintenance.”

As a leading local OEM, Kwatani has seen mines gradually embrace the value of maintenance contracts to avoid costly downtime. One of its contracts covers about 400 screens on a single mining operation.

The range of its contracts extends to various commodities, from hard materials like iron ore and manganese to soft material such as coal. In one coal operation in Limpopo, Kwatani has contracted to service 160 of its machines.

Schoepflin highlights how regular, expert maintenance is vital for mines to achieve the lowest cost per tonne in their production process. However, she warns these contracts can only be conducted responsibly and effectively with the right level of knowledge and experience.

“With our depth of know-how gathered over more than 40 years, we understand exactly what inspections and critical replacement need to be done and when,” she says. “As importantly, we know how to conduct this work cost effectively.”

Accurate costing of maintenance contracts can only be based on a firm foundation of expertise, especially when contracts invoke penalties due to breakdowns. Kwatani’s experience in the field ensures the requirements of its maintenance contracts are met. This allows the company to offer a range of financial models to customers when they consider such contracts.

“We are so confident of the quality and reliability of our vibrating screens and feeders that some customers pay us a cost-per-tonne rate to maintain them,” she says. “We design, manufacture, install and commission according to their requirements, and then we take financial responsibility for keeping them fully operational.”

Long-term contracts often also include a commitment to improve and enhance the performance of the screens over time. To do this work professionally requires qualified service teams who are supported by solid engineering teams. Kwatani has developed these resources locally over more than four decades, and continuously develops skills in-house, alongside the various management systems to ensure such skills are available timeously to the customer.

“In addition to training and employing local people for a service role at our branches, we also collaborate with mining customers to empower their locally-based suppliers where this is feasible,” Schoepflin says.

She highlights Kwatani’s solution-orientated approach, combining the company’s expertise in its screening technology with the customer’s specific needs and resources.

Kwatani upskills Northern Cape contractor to carry out maintenance work

Specialist vibrating equipment manufacturer, Kwatani, says it leveraging a recent multi-year service contract with a large mining customer in the Northern Cape of South Africa to further boost the area’s local economy.

Kim Schoepflin, CEO of Kwatani, said: “Our branch near the customer’s mining operation has for many years employed and developed local expertise. Our latest initiative takes this further, by upskilling a local sub-contractor to conduct certain maintenance work on our behalf.”

A lengthy selection process was conducted by Kwatani to find a suitable sub-contractor, followed by ongoing training to empower artisans and other workers with specialised skills. Schoepflin says it was also important to involve the mine itself, so that it remained confident in the strength of its supply chain.

“Promoting local employment, skills and sustainability cannot be a tick-box exercise,” Schoepflin says. “It has to be based on proper engagement, hands-on training and the sub-contractor’s own commitment.”

Mining legislation and regulatory pressure can tempt stakeholders to rush such a process, she warned. “This would be a mistake; rather, it should be treated as an opportunity to strengthen the capability of all stakeholders.”

Kwatani’s 35 years of experience in heavy duty minerals applications means the OEM now has around 800 vibrating screens and feeders in the Northern Cape. The maintenance contract is an ideal opportunity to involve and foster the technical capability of local players, Schoepflin says.

It was vital that the chosen sub-contractor already had considerable experience and capacity, equipment and relevant expertise, according to the company.

“As a South Africa OEM with our own technologies and intellectual property, we are able to certify the sub-contractor and their quality of work,” Schoepflin says. “Phase 1 of our initiative will see them conducting basic service and maintenance functions.”

Kwatani retains responsibility for all work conducted, and continues with services such as detailed technical inspections, engineering support, on-site testing and diagnosis. It also supplies OEM spare parts, ensuring quality control, increased lifecycle time and reduced downtime, the company said.

Schoepflin noted that communities countrywide are eager to see more benefits from economic activity, and the country’s Mining Charter provides clear guidance on how mining companies can contribute to this process. “Kwatani’s mining customer is therefore also eager and incentivised to promote local businesses, both directly and through the supply chains of its main local contractors,” Kwatani said.

Schoepflin highlights the importance of supporting local firms to build sustainability in the local economy. This also strengthens the skills base for this economy to diversify, making it less dependent on mining and more resilient to commodity cycles and eventual mine closure.

“Our own business is local from the ground up, sourcing 99% of direct purchases from inside South Africa,” she says. “So, we understand the positive role that local procurement and skills development can play.”

It also makes financial sense to root the company’s cost base in the local currency, making it less vulnerable to foreign exchange fluctuations and allowing more affordable and consistent pricing.

“Working collaboratively with our mining customers and businesses close to their operations, we can help spread local economic benefits,” she says. “In turn, we can continue to develop our focus on leading-edge technology and quality manufacture.”

South Africa’s Kwatani wins screening export plaudits at awards ceremony

Vibrating screen OEM, Kwatani, has been named a finalist in the SACEEC Exporter of the Year Awards recently held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Kwatani, one of few local manufacturers that holds an ISO 9001:2015 quality certification as well as a Level 1 B-BBEE rating, it says, placed in the Exporter of the Year Large category and came second in the Export of the Year Africa category.

The company said: “As one of South Africa’s leading vibrating screen OEMs, Kwatani understands the major role that local manufacturing has to play in the country. In addition, and of enormous advantage to mining operations in Africa, the company is the only South African vibrating equipment OEM independent of international technology and employs a far higher percentage of engineering personnel than others in this sector.”

Kim Schoepflin, CEO of Kwatani, said while recent amendments to the South Africa Mining Charter place even greater emphasis on the local manufacturing of mining equipment and products, it is vital to meaningfully measure exactly what ‘local content’ means in the mining environment.

“We can proudly say that Kwatani’s screening machines are locally manufactured,” Schoepflin said. “Our equipment is designed in our own in-house facility by our competent engineers and then built under stringent quality control conditions in our Spartan plant. This allows us to contribute significantly to job creation and economic transformation.”

She said Kwatani’s long history of manufacturing locally has brought many benefits to mining customers. The company has a legacy of more than 43 years and can reference fit-for-purpose screening machines installed across a wide spread of commodity sectors including coal, iron ore and other heavy metals.

“A key benefit of being a fully local OEM is that we can control quality,” she said. “With our suppliers close by, this facilitates close collaboration, quick turnaround and integration into our quality systems.”

Kwatani bids farewell to founder and chairman, Gunter Vogel

Engineer and self-made industrialist Gunter Vogel, founder and chairman of South African vibrating equipment manufacturer Kwatani, has passed away in Johannesburg after a long illness, the company confirmed. He was 75 years old.

Kwatani said: “Vogel was a well-known personality in the mining and manufacturing sectors, having acquired Joest South Africa, in 1988. It was then a small company importing motors from Germany for the assembly of small vibrating equipment. He built this modest business into a fully independent local original equipment manufacturer (OEM) which was rebranded as Kwatani in 2016. With its focus on ‘engineering for tonnage’, the business has become an industry leader in vibrating equipment solutions through South Africa and beyond.

“Born in Germany in 1944, he studied mechanical engineering before coming to South Africa as a young man in his early 20s. Colour-blindness had denied him a career as a pilot, but he pursued his engineering career with passion and ingenuity. According to his daughter Kim Schoepflin, Kwatani’s chief executive officer, he also loved mathematics and was convinced that everything had an engineering solution.

“Schoepflin said: “His success relied on this commitment to quality, technology and most of all his commitment to customers. He loved being on the mine site and was never shy to get his hands dirty working through the night to resolve whatever the problem was. He was so devoted that very often he would drive 12 hours through the night at the drop of a hat when the telephone rang.””

“She remembers him as a passionate teacher, giving interesting presentations on screen sizing that left a lasting impression on many customers in mining. “Even today, some of our competitors and suppliers use and refer to his sizing philosophies,” she noted.

“An enthusiastic reader and philosopher, Vogel also loved adventure and the African bush. Perhaps his most daring trip – together with his wife Maria – was by Landcruiser from Johannesburg to Hamburg, Germany. The 30,000 km trip took them seven months and traversed 29 countries on three continents.

“He was also a free thinker who opposed racial discrimination and devoted many years to supporting and building black businesses during apartheid. Significantly, Vogel laid the foundation for Kwatani’s transformation into a B-BBEE Level 1 company.

“Schoepflin said: “Being an exceptionally ethical man, he always fought for what he believed was right. He stood by his word and did not subject himself to any rules or regulations that he did not believe in. He remains a legend in the industry in which we operate.””