More SEW-EURODRIVE X.e-series power packs on their way to Kamoa-Kakula

With well over 100 units already delivered, SEW-EURODRIVE in South Africa is set to continue supplying Ivanhoe Mines’ Kamoa-Kakula copper complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a joint venture with Zijin Mining of China, with a wide range of its X.e-series power packs, the company says.

According to Willem Strydom, Business Development at SEW-EURODRIVE, the power packs – which are integrated units comprising gearbox, coupling and motor – will be part of Kamoa-Kakula’s Phase 3 expansion. Since the mine’s first phase of development over five years ago, SEW-EURODRIVE has worked closely with both Ivanhoe and the engineering, procurement and construction contractor.

“As in previous phases of the mine’s development, our robust high quality power packs will provide reliable solutions in on-site applications such as conveyors, agitators and slurry pumps,” Strydom says. “The size range in the order makes use of our wide capability range to provide a total solution, ranging from 55 kW units to 500 kW units.”

The latest order includes several X.e series power packs for conveyor applications, planetary gearboxes for feeder applications and spare gearboxes. The equipment will be delivered in staggered shipments this year. While the mine typically undertakes the installation of the equipment, SEW-EURODRIVE sends technical teams to site to check final alignment and overall installation parameters.

The company has expanded its after-sales service teams considerably in recent years, allowing it to support the growing base of equipment throughout Africa. Its projects and engineering teams have also grown – developing a depth of experience to assist customers right from design phase onwards.

Strydom notes that SEW-EURODRIVE has significantly developed its infrastructural foundation in South Africa, and plans to develop a physical representation in over 23 other African countries. As a priority country for the company’s strategy, there is expected to be a representative in place in the DRC in 2023, he explains. Field service teams from South Africa are frequently at Kamoa-Kakula to assist with servicing of the existing power packs operating on the site.

“Our local assembly capability in our new facility in Johannesburg – combined with our ability to source from the group’s other global operations – has allowed us to meet the tight delivery deadlines for this substantial order of equipment,” he says. “Our global footprint and production capacity mean that we can deliver faster than most players in our field, and this is often an important factor for our market.”

While the company previously imported the larger X.e Industrial gearboxes from Germany, it is now able to assemble these in the new South African facilities. As part of its service, SEW-EURODRIVE will also handle the logistics of getting this large volume of equipment to site. The company’s training centre – the Drive Academy – in Johannesburg has also made a valuable contribution by providing training on the equipment and its maintenance, it says.

In this project, the tropical climate was another important factor in the customer’s design requirements. This required the inclusion of certain cooling and paint specifications in the contract.

SEW-EURODRIVE Head of Engineering, Andreas Meid, explains that special breathers were part of the design in response to high humidity levels – and served to ensure no moisture in the gearboxes. In outdoor applications where sun exposure was high, covers were also included to reduce heat build-up. Cooling fans were also optimised in certain cases to ensure optimal performance.

He highlights that Kamoa-Kakula is one of many projects in Africa to request the installation of monitoring equipment on the power packs. This facilitates real-time monitoring, using specialised sensors to measure key indicators like vibration and temperature from anywhere in the world.

“This allows the operation to monitor the equipment remotely, receiving early warnings of any issues in performance,” Meid says. “Responding timeously to this information can prevent serious damage and avoid unplanned downtime.”

As a preferred supplier, SEW-EURODRIVE first delivered a multitude of X.e Series power packs between 2019 and 2021 for the mine’s initial development phase.

For Kamoa-Kakula’s Phase 2 expansion, which doubled the concentrator plant capacity, SEW-EURODRIVE supplied many standard X.e series power packs for the conveyors as well as planetary gearboxes for the feeders.

SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa gears up for local growth with new headquarters

SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa, a specialist in drive and control technologies, has moved into its new state-of-the-art 26,000 sq.m headquarters complex in Aeroton, Johannesburg, in the process, more than tripling the floor and factory space that was available at its previous premises.

Built and equipped at a cost of R200 million ($11 million) and modelled on SEW-EURODRIVE’s showcase factory in Graben-Neudorf, Germany, the facility – which accommodates some 150 employees – makes extensive use of the latest technologies to effectively network people, processes, services and data.

The investment reflects SEW-EURODRIVE’s confidence in the future of both South Africa and the African continent, it said.

Commenting on the investment, Raymond Obermeyer, Managing Director of SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa, said: “This is a bold step that demonstrates our commitment to being part of solving South Africa’s problems and developing the economies of countries across Africa.”

SEW-EURODRIVE currently services 23 countries throughout the African continent from South Africa.

“With the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) protocol, which came into effect in early 2021, and a push to grow manufacturing on the continent, we are expecting African markets to account for around 50% of our turnover within the next few years,” Obermeyer says.

The new facility will play a pivotal role in allowing SEW-EURODRIVE to service the burgeoning Africa market efficiently, it says. The headquarters houses not only the group’s African head office but also an assembly plant for industrial gears and electric drives, expanded central warehousing and repair facilities. It also encompasses assembly and repair of all variable speed drives (VSDs), AGVs and Servo motor technology. SEW-EURODRIVE also employs multiple mechanical, electrical and mechatronic engineers to further support technical customer queries.

In addition, it accommodates SEW-EURODRIVE’s Drive Academy, which delivers product awareness and maintenance training to customers. Online and virtual augmented reality training and support is also now available, in direct support of SEW-EURODRIVE’s social development plans.

The expanded warehousing gives SEW-EURODRIVE the ability to increase stock levels, a huge benefit given the problems currently affecting the global supply chain. It means the company’s customers in Africa will be able to able to get orders – for new equipment or spares – fulfilled with minimal delay, according to the company.

The expanded warehousing gives SEW-EURODRIVE the ability to increase stock levels, a huge benefit given the problems currently affecting the global supply chain

“The new facility allows us to service our customers more efficiently, reducing the high cost of unplanned downtime and allowing them to adhere to their scheduled maintenance programmes,” Obermeyer states. “Ensuring our customers’ continued productivity has been the key driver behind the development of our new premises.”

Over a three-to-five-year period, SEW-EURODRIVE will incorporate further 4IR technologies, including automated assembly machines and guided vehicles, into the Aeroton factory at a cost of an additional R200 million.

“We are working hard to shape the factory of tomorrow with system solutions for Industry 4.0 and a focus on raising productivity and implementing smart maintenance while, at the same time, providing ergonomic support for the people working in these facilities,” Obermeyer says.

SEW-EURODRIVE has used its own technology to automate operations at the Aeroton facility, with the main production conveyor being based on the company’s high-tech MOVI-C® all-in-one modular drive solution which is now being introduced to the African market. MOVI-C had its official African launch at the recent Electra Mining Africa 2022 show in Johannesburg.

In essence, MOVI-C is a suite of products – which includes controllers (PLCs), VSDs, gear motors and servomotors – that automates drive applications, whether they be simple or very complex.

The installation – which has resulted in a 40% productivity gain – includes the MOVIGEAR® mechatronic drive system. The MOVIGEAR units – which combine an energy-efficient IE5 motor, gear unit and corresponding drive electronics in a single housing – control and drive the production conveyor. The modular nature of the installation means it can easily be extended in the future should the need arise.

The assembly line for geared motors can accommodate 7,000 units per month while assembly of industrial gear (IG) units is currently being ramped up to between 100 to 140 IG units per month, doubling current capacity. New spray booths and automated oil filling stations have been installed to cater for these volumes.

All local assembly is conducted in accordance with SEW-EURODRIVE’s global quality standards, with the assembly of VSDs, servo motors and other sensitive equipment being conducted in an isolated clean area – with copper grounding and anti-static mats – of the facility. The assembly and logistics processes are also now incorporated into SEW-EURODRIVE’s SAP system, which gives better traceability and visibility of all orders as they move through assembly processes.

Among the products to be produced at the new facility are SEW-EURODRIVE’s modular air-cooled condenser (MACC) drives, which have already experienced excellent sales in South Africa with two units having been installed recently in the Northern Cape and a further 24 units at a Limpopo site, the company said.

Forming part of SEW-EURODRIVE’s M-Series modular IG range, the MACC is a purpose-designed gearbox solution for driving the modern fan-based air-cooled condenser systems used in steam-driven power generation units.

SEW-EURODRIVE will stock a single casing size with multiple components and specific ratios depending on which power station requires the drive. This modular approach will enable the new facility to custom assemble MACCs at a rate of approximately two to three units a week, drastically cutting the long lead times typically associated with equipment of this type.

Other notable products to be locally assembled include the New Generation X.e Series industrial gears; the P-series planetary industrial gears for high torque mining applications; short importation and commission lead times for mill drive solutions with power packs; electric motors; and the customised single-stage M1 range of speed reducers, which consists of 37 options for fine tuning a drive’s output speed and torque.

Illustrating the benefits of the new Johannesburg facility, SEW-EURODRIVE anticipates being able to assemble and test customised M1 units within two to three weeks from an order being placed. Previously they had to be imported from overseas with lead times of between 16 and 20 weeks.

SEW-EURODRIVE helps gear up scrubber project at De Beers Venetia mine

Drive technology specialist SEW-EURODRIVE says it is installing four of its large segmented girth gear systems at De Beers’ Venetia Diamond Mine in Limpopo province, South Africa.

Venetia mine, in operation since 1992, is upgrading its two primary scrubbers and two secondary scrubbers, and the girth gear replacement is an integral element of this project, according to SEW-EURODRIVE.

According to Bruce Farthing, Project Engineer at SEW-EURODRIVE, the order was placed in 2020 and all four units were manufactured and delivered within six months. This short lead time was achieved despite the global disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have planned the installations in close collaboration with Venetia mine, making sure our teams are ready when the mine’s shutdown periods allow,” Farthing says. “The first girth gear was installed on one of Venetia’s secondary scrubbers in September 2021, confirming the accuracy and duration of our installation procedure.”

The expertise of the installation team was brought to the fore by the scrubber’s specific design. The bearing design in particular makes it impractical to bring the whole drum to ground before changing over the girth gear, according to the company. Instead, the replacement has to be conducted with the drum in situ, at a height of about three storeys high.

“In the first installation, we, therefore, assembled the girth gear on the ground, lifting it into position once the old components had been removed from the scrubber,” he says. “The challenge, of course, was to ensure no damage to any of the new components, which we managed with careful planning and experienced execution using large overhead cranes.”

These large girth gears measure 5.3 m in diameter and weigh about six tonnes each. Given the scale of the equipment, the segmentation of the gear makes for easier transportation and handling. He explains that each girth gear is made up of 10 identical segments which are easily assembled on site.

“The segments allow for relatively quick assembly with less lifting equipment,” Farthing says. “A further advantage is that individual segments can be kept in stock and used as replacements in the event of a breakdown – keeping downtime to a minimum.”

The second and third installations – to be conducted on the two primary scrubbers – are scheduled for later this year. With the limited time available during a plant shutdown, the installation team adopts a 24-hour work cycle.

The contract includes the supply of SEW-EURODRIVE’s large two-stage industrial gearboxes and the external pinions to drive the girth gear. The motors are coupled to the gearboxes using a fluid coupling on a purpose-built, drop-in baseplate. Smaller gearboxes from SEW-EURODRIVE’s X series range are also coupled to the main gearbox as auxiliary drives for commissioning and maintenance.

Farthing notes that the company’s segmented girth gear systems have recently been a popular choice for South African customers, with six orders being received within about a year. Apart from the four supplied to De Beers Venetia Diamond Mine, SEW-EURODRIVE also recently supplied these solutions to applications in a paper mill and a cement mill.