Tag Archives: thyssenkrupp

Berco’s new aftermarket business to start operating in October

Following an announcement of a change in strategic direction back in July, Berco has announced the launch of ‘Berco Aftermarket S.r.l.’, a new company exclusively dedicated to serving the Aftermarket worldwide.

The new company, which will service all countries apart from the North American region, which will be covered by Berco of America, is 100%-owned by Berco S.p.A.

As a spin-off of the existing business, Berco Aftermarket S.r.l. will focus on providing replacement parts services, in order to take customer satisfaction to the next level, it says.

“We are in the midst of exciting times at Berco, and our new Aftermarket company is a prime milestone of our future path,” Piero Bruno, CEO of Berco S.p.A, says. “Our famous Original Equipment hallmarks of high quality and performance in the field are about to be transferred to the replacement parts industry. This, in turn, will be beneficial to our whole worldwide dealer network.”

The creation of this new organisation is a prudent step forward for the Berco Group, owned by thyssenkrupp, and will strengthen the Aftermarket activities to contribute to the group’s development strategy.

Its success will be based on increased flexibility in production and product life-cycle management, which will ultimately strengthen Berco in being a proactive player in the replacement parts sector, it said.

“By extending our already leading support for our Aftermarket customers, we will also increase customer satisfaction and, as a consequence, sales growth within the group,” Bruno added.

The new company will place an even greater emphasis on product availability, with customer service situated at the very centre of its supply chain concept, and the goal of reaching top service levels.

The new concept will increase efficiency in the replacement business and put an even stronger emphasis on collaboration with the company’s dealer network in real time. This will be achieved thanks to a dedicated Aftermarket team.

At the same time, Berco Aftermarket S.r.l. plans a significant extension of its current product portfolio – far beyond the existing Service Line – to include additional undercarriage-related components.

The company’s high-quality product range for the mining industry – the Platinum Line – will equally continue to grow to supply customers in this traditionally strong Berco segment, it said.

To further facilitate accessibility and the serving of customer requests, the new company will run its own warehouse at Interporto in Bologna. There, Berco Aftermarket will be partnering with Gruber Logistics, a transport company with expertise in moving heavy loads and special cargo worldwide. The warehouse will provide 700 Stock Keeping Units, with a minimum stock level of more than 6,000 t across 12,000 sq.m.

Diego Buffoni, Managing Director of Berco Aftermarket S.r.l., said: “By providing an extensive product portfolio and a world-class service to our customers, Berco Aftermarket S.r.l has the goal of becoming the market’s leading company when it comes to replacement parts. As a result, we expect a 50% growth within the next few years thanks to our unique dealer network.”

The new organisation is located close to Copparo, where Berco S.p.A. was founded and currently holds its main factory. While the Copparo facility will continue to be the main source of the company’s renowned Original Equipment production and R&D facilities, Bologna provides Berco Aftermarket S.r.l. with the perfect location to thrive in the replacement parts business, the company said.

The new Aftermarket-dedicated warehouse in Bologna will serve as a buffer between the world’s largest undercarriage plant (Copparo) and the company’s dealers, which require flexibility and short lead-times when purchasing from Berco’s product range.

“This will ensure that purchase deliveries to our customers’ premises will be sped up significantly – which is crucial for the Aftermarket demands as well as for the recently launched E-commerce business,” the company said.

Berco Aftermarket S.r.l. will begin operations in October, in line with the beginning of its parent company’s new financial year.

Berco to shed light on Aftermarket undercarriage parts spinoff plans at Bauma 2022

Berco, a leading manufacturer and supplier of undercarriage parts, has chosen Bauma 2022, in Munich, Germany, to reveal to the world the company-wide transformation which it is undergoing.

The Italy-based company is setting its path to become a truly global service provider, reaching far beyond the delivery of components for the undercarriage, to satisfy a diversity of market segments, it says.

Proximity to both Original Equipment and Aftermarket customers is at the heart of this new strategy, with data management gathered through Berco’s latest digital applications playing a key role. This, ultimately, will further strengthen its technical expertise when creating tailored solutions for each customer around the world, it says.

Berco’s transformation is designed to satisfy the market demand to meet increasingly individual requirements. To this end, Berco has decided to increase its technical presence in the geographical areas closest to its customers.

The US, first, will receive additional focus, with the company strengthening its level of support on the ground. This approach will soon be replicated in other important markets such as Asia, where Berco will not only offer support to its important Asian customers, but equally to its American and European ones, whose presence in the continent is growing.

“In collaboration with our customers, our goal is to develop the best solution for each of their specific requirements and applications in any environment, wherever in the world,” Piero Bruno (pictured), CEO of Berco, said.

The key step forward involves the placing of the Aftermarket at the centre of the company’s development. This has resulted in the creation of a spin-off, solely dedicated to the Aftermarket, with all its operations bundled. The focus of this business entity will be a customer-specific service based on a new supplychain concept. This dedicated team is headed by Diego Buffoni and located in Bologna, Italy, Berco explained.

“The core impact of this transformation process, however, is the incorporation of 4.0 digitalisation standards,” the company said. “With over 100 years of expertise in both development and engineering, Berco is now benefitting even more due to its approach to data management. Data, which are generated in the field by Berco’s latest patented ‘Smart Undercarriage’ system, as well as by the revamped ‘Bopis Life’ application, are evaluated and processed through the company’s R&D department. The data archive will be the source for any future systems solutions for both Original Equipment and the Aftermarket.”

Berco’s solutions will be presented and on display at Bauma 2022, at the thyssenkrupp Group, during the event, which takes place on October 24-30.

ERG looks at green hydrogen, wind, solar power as part of decarbonisation efforts

Eurasian Resources Group is exploring the potential use of green hydrogen in its calcination kilns, as well as installing a portfolio of wind and solar power plants with an up to 6 GW capacity as part of its decarbonisation plans, according to Dr Alexander Machkevitch, Chairman of the Board of Directors.

During the plenary session of the Council for Foreign Affairs under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, titled, ‘Decarbonisation of the economy: Implementation of low-carbon technologies to identify environmental, social and governance settings (ESG),’ Dr Machkevitch, shared ERG’s ambitious plans to decarbonise its operations, including those with a focus on green hydrogen and renewable energy generation.

These efforts form an important part of the group’s ESG strategy and support Kazakhstan’s own national decarbonisation targets, it says.

Dr Machkevitch said: “Our environmental strategy includes around 40 projects across the group, embracing the development and application of new technological solutions such as the unique hybrid filter technology implemented at our plants together with thyssenkrupp. At ERG, we are exploring to replace fossil fuel oil in calcination kilns with green hydrogen, which can eliminate 100% of direct greenhouse gas emissions in this technological process. The group also plans to develop a portfolio of wind and solar electric power plants with total capacity of up to 6 GW.”

The group’s ESG 2030 goals include specific targets for reducing particulate emissions, waste and water use, with the three priorities being the reduction of particulate emissions by two-fold, the reduction of water consumption by a third, and the prevention of more than 2 Mt/y of CO2 emissions through the use of renewable energy sources. These activities will cost around $1.6 billion.

ERG’s decarbonisation commitments will significantly support national climate targets, it says. Kazakhstan plans to reduce national GHG emissions by 1.5% a year between 2022 and 2025, achieve a 15% reduction by 2030 and seek carbon neutrality in 2060.

Infinity Lithium, thyssenkrupp to test hydrogen use in lithium chemical conversion process

Infinity Lithium Corporation and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Infinity GreenTech Pty Ltd, have announced a collaboration with thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions AG Business Unit Mining to assess the potential to use green hydrogen to power the lithium chemical conversion process.

The Memorandum of Understanding highlights the intention of both parties to apply technological advancements for green hydrogen energy applications for pyrometallurgical equipment relevant to lithium chemical conversion processes.

The advancements have the potential to be integrated into both the San José lithium project in Spain and the Infinity GreenTech novel lithium hydrometallurgical conversion processes, Infinity said.

Infinity CEO and Managing Director, Ryan Parkin, said: “The ability to be at the forefront of this global leading application of green hydrogen has wide ranging implications for the company and the industry. Infinity and thyssenkrupp BU Mining are bringing world leading technologies to San José in alignment to Extremadura’s ambitions to produce green hydrogen from their vast renewable energy projects, and progress sustainable industrialisation in the region.”

This global first application to an integrated lithium project will see pilot scale activities using the new tk BU Mining Hydrogen Burner installation in Germany (pictured) to assess San José feedstock and the use of green hydrogen to power a rotary kiln.

thyssenkrupp BU Mining CEO, Jan Lüder, said: “Global demand for raw materials is rising all the time, whilst there is consciousness about the finite nature of resources and the need to protect the environment. As one of the world’s leading engineering and equipment supply companies for the mining industry, we are aware of our customers’ needs to reduce the carbon footprint of their operations.

“Therefore, thyssenkrupp Mining technologies has been developing projects to improve our equipment and services in order to help our customers achieve their goal of sustainable and environmentally responsible mining. From digitalisation and optimisation solutions, mining operations integration studies and, of course, low-CO2 pyroprocessing solutions.

“Among other developments, our pilot hydrogen/natural gas combustion facility allows us to evaluate with our customers the potential of using Green H2 in the mining industry as an alternative to fossil fuels with special attention to the final product quality. Our collaboration with Infinity Lithium is a great step in this direction and we are proud to support the development of a crucial project for Extremadura, Spain and Europe.”

The parties will examine further strategic opportunities in addition to the collaboration under the MoU relating to San José and the application to Infinity GreenTech’s technological developments.

San José, according to Infinity, has the potential to utilise green hydrogen as the energy source to power the rotary kiln that will be required under the sulphate roast stage of the process flowsheet. tk BU Mining will assess varying compositions of natural gas and green hydrogen for use at San José.

The company can assess the potential use of natural gas from the project’s adjacent pipeline infrastructure and the impact of blended gas and hydrogen which is already in use in pipelines globally. It and tk BU Mining will also assess the potential use of hydrogen from alternative sources which can include a localised source of green hydrogen or the development of specific infrastructure on site.

In terms of the Infinity GreenTech lithium hydrometallurgical conversion processes, Infinity said provisional patent applications had been lodged, and the collaboration with tk BU Mining will be incorporated for the assessment of the pyrometallurgical applications under these novel technologies. The provisionally protected patent has the potential for application to lithium-bearing materials and more widely for other battery material refining processes.

Berco’s mining undercarriage transition takes shape in Copparo

With the opening of Berco’s new R&D facility in Copparo, Italy, the manufacturer and supplier of undercarriage systems and components has cemented a growth plan that could see it gain further market share in both its OEM and aftermarket segments and expand its product range for mining applications.

Covering 2,000 sq.m, the new department is located beside the entrance of the company’s main plant, a building that captures 101 years of company history and is being updated with a new vision backed by parent company thyssenkrupp.

The new R&D hub is home to the T&I (technology and innovation) team, which will be divided into two subgroups: the metallurgical laboratory and product engineering.

Officially opened on November 17 – IM and other trade press members received a sneak peek a day earlier – the facility houses state-of-the-art machinery, specifically developed to advance the company’s strategic plans for the future.

These strategic plans date back to early 2018 when, as part of the Forged Technologies business unit, Berco developed a strategy that encompassed “lean manufacturing” and the company’s unique know-how, according to Berco CEO, Piero Bruno.

“We have a unique know-how of metallurgy within Berco,” he said during last week’s press event. “We, as part of Forged Technologies, represent a strategic pillar for thyssenkrupp. We are a core business within the group (thyssenkrupp Industrial Components).”

The latter is an important point considering the divestments thyssenkrupp has been making in recent years – which includes plans to offload its mining business to FLSmidth. Berco has been safeguarded from this corporate activity, evidenced by the recent investment in its facilities.

Berco is a rarity in the mining sector; a company able to deliver the full undercarriage (chains, rollers, drive sprockets, track adjusters, track chains or idlers) for large dozers and excavators, for both aftermarket applications and equipment manufacturers. Mining and construction represent more than 30% of its sales currently, with on-highway trucks and passenger vehicles taking up around 60% of the remaining share.

There are other undercarriage suppliers on the market, but few of them have 32,000 t and 16,000 t screw presses capable of forging the scale of products needed in heavy-duty mining applications. Even fewer have the expertise to take an industry-standard product and tailor it for longer life and increased uptime in such applications.

This puts Berco in an interesting position where, in some instances, it is producing components or complete systems that compete directly with the equipment manufacturers.

In the instance of the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel, Berco has built a complete undercarriage system as an alternative to the OEM equivalent on the market.

Outside of dozers and excavators, the Berco name has also been seen on components fitted on apron feeders and bucketwheel excavators. It may also soon find its way into conveyors (on the aftermarket side) and drill rigs (for equipment manufacturers), in addition to new excavator and dozer models.

Going platinum

When it comes to mining equipment innovation from Berco, one only need look at the Platinum line of products, which are focused solely on performance in the field and operating costs.

The new Cat 6020B undercarriage (below, right) is the most recent addition to this line, also representing the first “non-captive” range available to purchase, according to the company.

With this product, Berco becomes the only company – aside from Cat – currently capable of providing what it says is a full and significantly more affordable variety of undercarriage replacement components for this particular machine.

Launched in 2014, the Cat 6020B is a 230 ton (224 t) excavator at the high end of the mining range. Depending on the abrasiveness of the soil, undercarriage components need to be replaced every four-to-five years, according to Berco, meaning there are significant numbers of this model currently due undercarriage maintenance.

For the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel range, Berco used a “reverse engineering” process to deconstruct the original equipment components. Three-dimensional material scanning was carried out to gain a complete understanding of the initial design criteria, while laboratory analysis determined the materials used as well as the heat treatments and microstructures.

Berco-originated innovations that feature on this non-captive undercarriage system include the BPR2™ (Berco Positive Pin Retention2™ system) to improves the working lifetime of the components through mechanical locking of the link to the pin; a newly designed track link for the track chain with a 350 mm pitch produced using the “drop forged” process made from mild carbon steel with boron and chromium additives; and track bushings with 60 HRC hardness steel that have a high resistance to wear.

Additionally, the track roller can, because of its lubrication and seal features, adopt an “all-weather” configuration ranging from -40°C to 50°C.

The first of these new undercarriages is due to be dispatched from Copparo by the end of the year, destined for a customer in Africa.

This type of aftermarket strategy – where the company identifies a product area and develops an improved industry solution in line with expected maintenance intervals – could end up being used for future products if proven successful, Francesco Grenzi, Executive Director of R&D Department, told IM.

Grenzi and his new T&I team are integral to making this happen.

Having in the past four years added five new patents to the Berco offering, the R&D head is keen to develop products that outperform the industry standard and are tailored to the application at hand.

He can already point to several success stories in the dozer and excavator categories even before the first 6020B goes out the door.

For example, one of the company’s Platinum line undercarriage systems for dozers is outperforming the OEM equivalent by up to 25-35%. It performs in an extremely consistent manner for applications used in different conditions such as hard rock, coal or copper mines. Platinum line products are available along the complete mining dozer range, from 350 hp (261 kW) to 1,000 hp crawler dozers.

Other Platinum line products already on the market include high strength track link, ground engaging tools and its Robustus (ROtating BUShing Track Undercarriage System) solution.

Diego Buffoni, Head of Aftermarket, said these products represent a “niche” for the company when compared with the thousands of components and systems Berco produces on an annual basis, but their development also provides “an open door” for other sales.

“The Platinum line will contribute to growth, but it will not be the main driver,” he said. “It will help with our marketing presence, though…where we are able to show that Berco has a solution for every application worldwide.”

The development of such ‘best of breed’ solutions will have a knock-on impact on all the products that come out of Copparo, according to Bruno.

“If you look at F1, for example, you can see what manufacturers can produce for high-performance sports cars when budgets are not scrutinised or restricted to the same extent as they are in traditional markets,” he told IM.

“We see the Platinum line as potentially uplifting the wider Berco portfolio, which will also have a positive impact on the products going to our OEM customers.”

Automation and digitalisation

Observations like this are now being backed up by an increased focus on digitalisation and remote monitoring of Berco products.

This starts with digital records of tests in the new R&D facility – where there is a benchmark room, a metallurgical lab, a revamped roller test bench, updated rubber testing machines able to perform cryostatic tests for anticipated performance at very low temperatures and a new spectrometer machine, to name a few innovations – through to automated data analysis during the manufacturing process to ensure products are matched to their final applications, and finally 3D geometric scans for product benchmarking against the competition.

The company’s Bopis Life system has now moved onto generation two where undercarriage measurement and wear conditions are monitored remotely using ultrasonic probes. This enables predictive maintenance of critical parts, while supporting fleet management, the company said. Berco currently has 15 licences for this system, backed up by 22 ultrasonic probes that provide such feedback. This is some improvement on the ‘traditional’ monitoring of undercarriage components that normally takes place on mine sites with callipers and clipboards.

Berco is also looking to add in-built sensors to track links to provide real-time wear performance data that customers and company technicians can use to improve machine uptime. These are termed “smart undercarriages”.

The digitalisation and innovation do not end here.

What is perhaps most impressive about the 101-year-old company is its willingness to change with the times.

In 2018, it brought in Mario Andaloni as Chief Operating Officer to steer a €40 million ($44.9 million) project to refurbish and invest in the company’s facilities in Copparo.

This massive job has seen the company de-centralise its energy sources to a much more efficient and modern heating system that will achieve a 13% decrease in gas consumption in the first year alone; re-design the steel yard in line with a ‘lean manufacturing’ methodology; reorient its forging, heat treatment and shoes areas; and significantly reduce the company’s waste footprint. A more strategic and efficient use of robots in the manufacturing process is also coming to the fore.

The principles that Andaloni has instilled are set to pay off when it comes to the output of equipment.

When asked what impact the project was likely to have on product turnaround times when completed in 2023, he said the aim was for products that required no forging or component additions to take five days to manufacture. When forging and components were added on, the target was 10 days.

“Currently we are around 20 days duration for the complete process,” he told IM. “Before we started this new lean manufacturing strategy, we were around 35 days to make products; that was without forging included.”

These durations don’t include the raw material deliveries into Copparo and transport requirements from the facility, but they are a major signal of the company’s intent to make a real impact on the undercarriage supply chain.

The initiation of an e-commerce platform for Berco aftermarket dealers across the globe – due to launch in late January – will make the company “more agile, more flexible, more in line with the needs of today’s global market”, Bruno said. It will inevitably capitalise on the work Andaloni and his team have been doing on optimising the factory workflow, too, allowing customers to see product availability as well as potential lead times.

All these developments are setting Berco up to capitalise on increased demand from both the mining and construction sectors, with it anticipating future sales increases across both its aftermarket and OEM segments into the future.

On the latter, Buffoni said there was potential to address a market worth some €23 billion in the future with key production additions and developments backed up by an aftermarket organisation that is proactive and flexible. He currently saw Berco playing in a €2 billion market, divided 50:50 between mining and construction.

His counterpart on the OEM side, Fedele Salvatore (Head of Sales OEM), said there were many opportunities to grow its own 13% market share in the €2 billion undercarriage global original equipment market through a “funnel” approach that included more engagement with existing and new original equipment customers, entries into new regional markets in key areas such as Asia and further diversification of the product line.

A re-focus on providing complete undercarriage systems, as opposed to components, would also go some way to achieving growth aims.

What is clear is that the Berco name, 101 years after its birth, has a bright future in the mining segment. By the end of 2023, it will have the equipment and infrastructure to serve a market in need of robust solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s mines.

Enter Engineering, thyssenkrupp to tackle Tebinbulak iron ore deposit in Uzbekistan

Enter Engineering and thyssenkrupp AG have signed an Agreement of Intent that could see the engineering procurement and construction (EPC) contractor take the exclusive role as construction partner in building an integrated mining metallurgical complex at the Tebinbulak iron ore deposit in Uzbekistan.

The pact, worth €50 million ($58 million), comes on top of a signed agreement for the start of preparatory work on the project, including a contract for the supply of equipment, its design, supervision during installation and commissioning at the facility.

The high pressure grinding roll (HPGR) technology will be used to help process up to 60 Mt/y of iron ore, according to the EPC firm.

The implementation period for Enter Engineering’s construction role is two years with the plant launch anticipated for September 2023.

Bakhtiyor Fazylov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Enter Engineering, said: “We are delighted to partner with a leading global company such as thyssenkrupp. Applying German standards, we will create a high-quality raw material base for the domestic metallurgical industry. This project also embodies all the goals Enter Engineering strives for: protecting Uzbekistan’s national interests in the international market, supporting the interests of domestic consumers and creating jobs.”

Reza Poorvash, CEO thyssenkrupp Mining Technologies Europe and Asia, said: “To date, more than 140 units of HPGR equipment have been sold in the mining industry. In the CIS countries, thyssenkrupp takes a leading position among mining companies that use this technology, in practice confirming the high quality and reliability of the German brand.”

Roman Karl, Managing Director thyssenkrupp Mining Technologies CIS, added: “We are delighted to partner with such a well-known company in Uzbekistan as Enter Engineering, who have a long track record of successful execution in major engineering construction projects.

“The project will use one of the most energy efficient and innovative technologies to significantly reduce energy consumption. HPGR has been used since 1985 in the cement industry, and since 1986 in the mining industry for use in the grinding process to ensure a high level of product fineness. Full integration of this technology within Industry 4.0 is also important.”

The Tebinbulak complex is significant for Uzbekistan because of its multiplier effect. As well as creating new jobs in remote areas, it will help develop domestic iron ore to provide the country’s existing metallurgical complexes with raw materials. It will also support development of infrastructure, creation of service enterprises and an increase in trade between countries.

Tebinbulak is located in the Karauzyak district of Karakalpakstan, in the north-west part of Uzbekistan. The field covers 5.2 sq.km and comes with a predicted mine life of 27 years.

Cooperation between Enter Engineering and thyssenkrupp is supported at a high inter-governmental level, with the agreement signing ceremony attended by Alisher Sultanov, Uzbekistan’s Minister of Energy.

FLSmidth looks for sustainable gains with thyssenkrupp mining buy

The subtleties behind FLSmidth’s acquisition of thyssenkrupp’s mining business appear to have got lost within the financial community.

The company’s Denmark-listed shares, since announcing the transaction in late July, lost 16% of their value to August 20.

This downward move is hardly surprising when focusing on pure financials: FLSmidth is looking to acquire a company for an enterprise value of $325 million that is only expected to return to profitability two years after financial close.

Yet, this narrow train of thought discounts the well-timed strategy behind the move.

A combination of the two companies will undoubtedly create a leading global mining technology provider with operations from pit to plant. It will also see FLSmidth re-geared towards a mining sector on the up at a time when the cement business it serves is exhibiting flattish demand.

While this won’t be lost on analysts, most of them will only be able to factor in short-term profitability projections into their financial models, meaning, as far as they’re concerned, FLSmidth will be weighed down by the transaction until 2024.

Yet, for FLSmidth and mining, 2024 is practically ‘just around the corner’.

In FLSmidth’s recently released June quarter results it registered an order backlog of DKK16.7 billion ($2.6 billion), the majority of which was associated with mining orders. Of the backlog amount attributable to the mining sector, 16% would not be realised until 2023 and beyond.

This could mean many of the orders FLSmidth registered in the most recent June quarter will only be realised (read: delivered) in 2024, the year thyssenkrupp’s mining business is expected to be back in the black.

This is just one of the subtleties that may have got lost by shareholders fixated on the short term.

The second is how the transaction sets the company up as a mining sustainability leader at a time when the industry is calling out for one.

At the top end of the mining industry, the ability to decarbonise operations is becoming as – if not more – important as returning cash to shareholders. Every tonne of copper extracted and processed, and every ounce of gold mined and refined is likely to come with an associated carbon content/price in future years. The battery materials supply chain tied to the likes of lithium, cobalt and nickel will come under even more scrutiny.

Blockchain-type traceability platforms will mean investors and any interested party can interrogate where the raw materials came from and how they were produced.

These same miners will also be judged on how they use water, with freshwater use being rationalised in many regions where such resources are scarce.

FLSmidth, should the acquisition complete next year, is arming itself to compete in this brave new sustainable world.

The company started this journey all the way back in November 2019 when it announced its MissionZero program at its Capital Markets Day in Copenhagen.

Central to MissionZero is FLSmidth’s focus on enabling its customers in cement and mining to move towards zero emissions operations in 2030.

The OEM planned to do this by leveraging the development of digital and innovative solutions tied to sustainable productivity, offering its customers in the mining sector the technological solutions to manage zero emissions mining processes by 2030 – with a specific focus on water management.

For the latter, dry-stack tailings was the order of the day, with FLSmidth’s EcoTails® solution expected to reduce water costs, tailings dam risks and minimise environmental footprint. The development of the largest filter press plate ever built, the 5 m x 3 m AFP, was a signal of just how confident FLSmidth was on this emerging market trend becoming fully embedded across the globe.

Digital products such as SAGwise™, SmartCyclone™, BulkExpert™ and Advanced Process Control would, in the meantime, allow miners to become that more efficient with every resource (water, energy, etc) they used, again, improving their sustainability credentials.

Close to two years after making the MissionZero declaration, Thomas Schulz, CEO of FLSmidth, says the company has been seeing the program’s effects come through in its order book.

“Actually, this has been translated in orders for a few years already,” he told IM.

“When we look into sustainability, we define it as making productivity improvements. If you don’t adopt these sustainability solutions, you effectively have to pay more to keep operating at the same levels, or you have to stop operating – there is a productivity element to it, and quite a big one.

“For us, as a lifecycle provider, it is important that we offer to our customers at any point in time and any point of our offering, the right solution to make more money. That can be with dry-stacked tailings, tailings management, IPCC (in-pit crushing and conveying) systems, electrification of the pit, reducing emissions or dust, etc.”

Many of these solutions will enable companies to produce the same amount of product, or more, with the same input costs and energy draw, according to Schulz.

Coping with further restrictions on the industry’s access to freshwater will require more than step-change initiatives, and that is why the company is working on how its equipment can use “different types of water” and technologies that use less freshwater to ensure operations can abide by incoming legislation.

The company has been working on providing these zero-emission and resource-efficient solutions since 2019 to enable its customers to become sustainable operators by 2030.

“For many people, that sounds very long,” Schulz said. “In the mining industry, it’s not.”

Factor in the two-to-three years to build a pilot plant to prove such technology, two-to-three years to get a full-scale plant approved and the associated construction time, and a decade has passed.
Sustainability represents the ‘long game’ for mining OEMs, and technology is the key to achieving that sustainability, Schulz said.

Which brings us back to the thyssenkrupp mining business acquisition.

One of the big pillars

FLSmidth, in adding thyssenkrupp mining to its portfolio, is providing a whole host of decarbonised options for its mining customers to consider in their own sustainability drive.

It is adding mine planning expertise to its portfolio, ensuring that the IPCC and continuous surface mining technologies it puts forward are optimised for the operation at hand. These technologies are further complemented by semi-continuous and mobile crushing options from thyssenkrupp mining, adapted to the pit profile at hand.

Heavy-duty overland conveyors from thyssenkrupp mining complement other bulk handling solutions FLSmidth might be providing at stockyards or ports to reduce truck haulage and shift the transport dynamic to ‘green’ grid power.

“The culture in project service companies is you are the hero if you come to the table with the next big project,” Thomas Schulz says. “In product service companies, you are the hero if you come with the next big profit”

Then, when it comes to comminution, a crushing (including primary jaw crushers) and screening portfolio, plus smaller milling options and expertise in high pressure grinding rolls (HPGRs) through the globally renowned Polysius business, is bolted onto FLSmidth’s own crushing and grinding (including vertical roll milling technology) portfolio. This puts the combined offering up there with any global OEM around, while also providing the potential ‘dry grinding’ technologies the industry has been on the lookout for.

All these solutions come with sustainability benefits that can be felt throughout the mining value chain.

They also provide options and flexibility to an industry that cannot just suddenly retire a fleet of ultra-class haul trucks at a deep open-pit operation in favour of a fixed IPCC solution, or build a new process plant fitted with HPGRs to replace a typical SAG and ball mill grinding circuit.

Schulz said as much to IM.

“One of the big pillars of the whole acquisition lies in sustainability,” he said. “Normally, the process plants where we play big are all electrified, so if the energy resource coming into these plants is a green one, the process is already sustainable.

“When we look into the pit, in-pit crushing and transporting of material is where we can focus a lot.

“I’m not saying you can replace every truck, but some of the surface mines and the ones underground can be made significantly more continuous and sustainable from a transport perspective.

“thyssenkrupp is leading in that. They are quite big in the pit; we are quite big in the processing plant. Both, together, are complementary.

“If we can integrate the offering – and we will do – and make it more sustainable, that is a big step towards the 2030 MissionZero target.”

This increased spread of solutions will also provide FLSmidth with more opportunities to refine the entire flowsheet, providing further sustainability benefits to its customers.

“When we design solutions, or offer replacement equipment or a new process, we can now rely on expanded competences to look at what the best overall system for the entire flowsheet is,” Schulz said. “For instance, if we change the gyratory on a mine site and then look into the pit, we know how to size the equipment in the pit and the concentrator upstream.”

This increasing flowsheet focus must be complemented by an aftermarket approach that ensures the process remains efficient and sustainable throughout a product’s, solution’s or mine’s lifetime.

This was one of the obvious disparities between the two companies when the announcement was made in late July. It is also one of the biggest opportunities that comes with the planned transaction, according to FLSmidth.

Whereas capital business represented 37% of mining revenue in 2020 for FLSmidth, it was 66% of revenue for thyssenkrupp’s mining business. Services represented 63% and 34% of the two businesses’ 2020 revenue total, respectively.

Schulz has seen such a contrast – and opportunity – before, referencing his arrival at FLSmidth in 2013.

“When I came here to FLSmidth, it was actually quite similar,” he said. “I was at Sandvik for 16 years where the aftermarket was actually seen as the most important. They realised the importance of the customer relationship: the capital equipment sales team may meet the customer for a few hours per year, but the service technician has that interaction over weeks and months in terms of aftermarket.”

He also recognises the cultural shift needed to capture many of the profitable aftermarket dollars that the company is forecasting with the planned acquisition.

“The culture in project service companies is you are the hero if you come to the table with the next big project,” he said. “In product service companies, you are the hero if you come with the next big profit.

“You need both – we need profit, and our customers need profit to invest, while you need the projects to spur these aftermarket opportunities.

“We calculated what the aftermarket potential of the thyssenkrupp mining business is and understood it was not covered as they were all looking for the next big project, which we understand.

“But this is not what we will accept in the future. We have to have a strong aftermarket and strong customer link.”

Which all comes back to MissionZero.

“If you focus on MissionZero, then you invest there where you can impact MissionZero. Wherever you have aftermarket, you impact MissionZero. Where you don’t have aftermarket, you don’t impact MissionZero.”

At the same time, Schulz is not losing sight of the company’s end goal with all the business it coordinates in the mining sector.

“Whatever we do with the customer, they have to be more efficient, more productive and make more money.”

It just so happens that in doing this, the mining sector will become that much more sustainable.

Udokan Copper installs thyssenkrupp gyratory crusher at mining and metallurgical plant

Udokan Copper says it has completed the installation of a thyssenkrupp gyratory crusher at the coarse crushing plant at its namesake operation in the Far East of Russia.

The company is in the process of developing one of the largest copper deposits in the world into a mine, currently building a mining and metallurgical plant (MMP) where the coarse crushing plant is housed.

The thyssenkrupp crusher will process rougher ore fractions supplied from Zapadniy open pit, the company said.

German Mironov, CEO of Udokan Copper, said: “The crusher has the best operational capacity compared to other brands and can process up to 4,000 tonnes of copper ore per hour.”

All processing parameters of the coarse crushing plant are controlled and adjusted from the operator’s workplace, with real-time control a possibility, the company explained.

Once mining at the Udokan MMP starts, the ore will be transported to the coarse crushing plant by 130 t dump trucks. After the coarse crushing, the ore will go to storage areas and then to the beneficiation plant through the crushing and conveyor unit, which consists of two mainline conveyor belts with total length of 2.8 km.

Construction works are in full swing throughout the crushing and conveyor unit. The foundation and steel structures of Conveyor #1 gallery have been installed. Steel structures are also being installed for the transfer unit from Conveyor #1 to Conveyor #5.

Along the Conveyor #5 route, the foundation of the horizontal section has been installed and the conveyor is being assembled. The installation of steel structures for the Conveyor #5 tension station, ore storage, fine crushing plant and conveyor galleries between the ore storage and beneficiation plant is close to completion. The underground part of the ore storage infrastructure includes the installation of ore feeding conveyors from the ore storage area to the main building of the beneficiation plant.

Udokan Copper was established to develop Russia’s largest untapped deposit, Udokan. The deposit comes with resources of 26.7 Mt, according to JORC, with an average copper grade of 1.05%.

Udokan is located in the Zabaikalye Region in the Far East of Russia, 30 km away from the Baikal-Amur mainline.

The first stage of the Udokan plant should provide total output of 125,000 t/y of copper in cathodes and sulphide concentrate, its processing capacity being 12 Mt/y of ore. This is due to start up in 2022. The second stage, currently undergoing a feasibility study, implies processing 24 Mt/y.

Berco bolsters Excavator Line with Cat 6020B undercarriage replacement range

Berco, a leader in the manufacturing and supply of undercarriages and components to OEMs and the aftermarket, has reached another milestone with the launch of its complete undercarriage replacement range for the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel.

Developed specifically for the high-quality demand mining segment of the aftermarket, this is the first “non-captive” range available to purchase, according to the company. This means that aside from Cat, Berco is the only company currently capable of providing a full and significantly more affordable variety of undercarriage replacement components for this particular machine, Berco said.

Launched in 2014, the Cat 6020B is a 230 ton (224 t) excavator at the high end of the mining range. Depending on the abrasiveness of the soil, undercarriage components need to be replaced every four-to-five years, according to Berco, meaning there are significant numbers of this particular model currently due undercarriage maintenance. This number, moreover, is forecast to grow in the coming years.

To meet this demand, Berco is supplying a full range of undercarriage components including the chain, the bottom rollers, the top rollers, the drive sprocket and idlers with supports. Everything is set to be available from September onwards.

“These machines must be capable of working in harsh environments for 20-24 hours a day without stopping, because when the main excavator on a site is out of service, it has a direct knock-on effect on all of the secondary machines,” Diego Buffoni, Head of Aftermarket Berco, said. “We are particularly proud of this new range launch, which will offer a great business opportunity for our partner distributors worldwide. On top of Berco’s acclaimed high quality, which it provides, it also signifies the path we are on, which is to supply comprehensive and affordable solutions to all aftermarket customers.”

For the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel range, Berco used a “reverse engineering” process to deconstruct the original equipment components. Three-dimensional material scanning was carried out to gain a complete understanding of the initial design criteria, while laboratory analysis determined the materials used as well as the heat treatments and microstructures.

“Having gained a full understanding of all of the components in question, company engineers then proceeded to develop their very own Berco-quality aftermarket undercarriage system, which is further boosted by the addition of another Berco innovation: BPR2™ (Berco Positive Pin Retention2™ system),” the company said. “This improves the working lifetime of the components by mechanically locking the link to the pin which results in the avoidance of ‘end-play generation’ and ‘pin walking’ in an undercarriage.”

For the track chain, a newly designed track link with a 350 mm pitch was produced using the “drop forged” process made from a mild carbon steel grade with boron. Unlike the original equipment product, however, the chemical composition of the Berco version is enriched with chromium to increase tensile resistance. In addition, the track bushing has a high resistance to wear. With 60 HRC hardness, it can contain pitch elongation, according to the company. The case depth has also been increased by 20-25% when compared with the original. The track pin, moreover, has deeper case depth and higher core hardiness, resulting in an improved bending load resistance, Berco said.

The track roller can, because of its lubrication and seal features, adopt an “all-weather” configuration, ranging from -40°C to 50°C. Additionally, three top rollers without a central flange support the heavy weight of the chain, and the oil filling hole has been moved to the outer collar to ensure full access to it.

With Berco’s Dozer Line already complete, the launch of its range for the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel brings the company closer to finishing its Excavator Line too.

Accounting for a large portion of all aftermarket sales, Berco says the mining market segment is of particular importance to it. The company is now looking to further strengthen its position by extending its mining ranges and becoming the only high-quality alternative to OEM components.

Berco on the latest innovations in mining undercarriage solutions

Berco, part of the thyssenkrupp Forged Technologies Business Unit, is continuing to innovate within the undercarriage component market segment, with Francesco Grenzi, Executive Director of R&D, talking up some of the company’s most recent solutions for demanding applications like mining.

With over 100 years of experience and expertise in the industry, Berco says it manufactures and supplies undercarriage components to the world’s leading heavy machinery OEMs and to the aftermarket.

“Universally renowned for the very high quality of its products, Berco’s reputation is further bolstered by its dedication to providing tailor-made and innovative solutions for applications that operate in both unique and extreme conditions,” Grenzi says.

A recent challenge for Berco has been that of extending the number of hours of its mining excavator application.

“Because of the work efficiency of the most advanced mining excavators, as well as the extremely different working modes used in the open-pit mines, the goal of achieving 20,000 maintenance-free hours was indeed a difficult one,” Grenzi said.

The traveling rate of an undercarriage is also something that can significantly vary between applications. When blasting is being carried out, for example, the heavy machinery will naturally be evacuated from the area before detonation. In situations such as this, the use of carburised bushings is recommended to reduce the speed of wear.

For applications that do not travel frequently, however, undercarriage parts are still often subjected to wear. Continuous hammering of the front shovel, for example, may not lead to quick wear of the bushings, but can cause other side effects such as cracks on bushings.

Berco’s solution in this case was to use both quenched and tempered, and induction hardening and tempering bushings, as well as a quenched and tempered steel with boron to increase hardenability. These specially produced bushings deliver even more added value when fitted on reinforced chains, Grenzi said.

This solution, which is designed for heavy application such as for track chains used on 200-400 t machines, provides high resistance to wear as well as outstanding resistance to impact, according to Grenzi. Being capable of achieving up to 20,000 hours of use in the field, it ultimately reduces ownership and undercarriage costs. Since November 2020, they have been fitted as original equipment on two of the machines the manufacturer has built to perform in Russia’s most extreme environments.

While heavy machinery manufacturers look to Berco for tailor-made solutions, the company goes one step further by placing a large emphasis on R&D to anticipate solutions that are ever-more innovative, Grenzi says. An example of this is the use of ‘rotoforged’ steel in the production of rollers for very demanding mining applications.

This pioneering process will bring significant benefits to machines that have a huge load transfer in their working times, such as mining excavators that weigh above 200 t. For applications of this size and even heavier (350-400 t), the rollers are under pressure as they take all of the inertia of the vehicle. This means that the rollers need to be made of “perfect steel”, which is why the ‘rotoforging’ process is ideal, according to Grenzi.

Steel that has undergone this heat treatment process acquires a high microstructure and compactness, to such an extent it is able to achieve toughness values double those of conventional steel, he said. Continuous casting steel is usually rolled. Rolled steel that undergoes the new ‘rotoforging’ process has its microstructure transformed down to the core, resulting in a much stronger and tougher structure.

“For this reason, rollers made from ‘rotoforged’ steel are suitable for machines which must operate in the most demanding environments around the globe,” Grenzi said. “They offer a very high level of reliability of between 15,000-20,000 hours. This innovation is now ready to enter production.”