FOCUS attended Electra Mining Africa 2018 to bring you this year’s highlights
At first impression it became clear that, despite the fall in commodities, there is confidence that the mining and construction industries will secure their position among the country’s leading income generators.
Anyone who has been to Electra Mining Africa before will know that it is about a lot more than mining and construction. It’s about making new friends, business connections and being amazed, and sometimes amused, at the innovative solutions the industry uses to overcome complex problems.
There were more than 850 exhibitors at this year’s show with many having been there before. When speaking to the exhibitors a common theme soon became apparent: many said they keep coming back to the show because of the high calibre of visitors. This often translates directly into sales.
The most obvious benefit for exhibitors is the opportunity to showcase new products and technology. Closely aligned to that is the opportunity to interact with existing clients and discuss products currently in use to get feedback. However, being at the show also enables exhibitors to get a feel for where the industry is going through communication with people on the ground.
Transport in mining
Many logistics providers previously involved in moving materials for mines have moved on and left the job to sub-contractors. Dachser Intelligent Logistics was the only global provider of logistics solutions with a stand at the show.
Detlev Duve, MD at Dachser, says: “We are here to say that there is a logistics provider here that shares the same values as the mines when it comes to compliance, sustainability, safety of workers and efficiency.
Duve says mining companies are characterised by transportation across borders and to remote locations. This includes the management of complex multi-modal projects and high risks that require specialised insurance.
“We have the infrastructure in place and are ready and willing to partner with the industry. Of particular relevance for Electra Mining Africa visitors are our global and intra-Africa solutions,” concludes Duve.
There were several heavy-equipment, or yellow-metal, manufacturers, exhibiting at the show, but only one truck manufacturer. Everstar Industries, distributors of Powerstar, had one of the biggest stands and seemed determined to make an impression on the market.
Many machines were on display including the company’s dump truck, which it proudly claims to be the best seller in South Africa.
Sales executive Marc Mynhardt says: “Some suppliers have moved on and we are here to fill that space. Last time we were at the show more than 50 000 people passed through our stand and sales have grown tremendously over the past few years.
“Take a drive and you will notice many Powestar trucks on the road. At the same time, we haven’t quite taken as much of the construction and mining market as we would like and this is why we are at the show again this year.”
There was a lot of noise about the Powerstar 18-cube tipper trucks, which can supplement the use of articulated dump trucks in mining. In addition to a cheaper cost of purchase, mines can save on running costs, maintenance and tyres when using these vehicles.
“Another imperative for us is to promote the VX 2642 6×4 truck tractor, which is ideal for the medium to short-haul coal application,” concludes Mynhardt.
Mechanisation and automation
When compared with those overseas, most South African mines still rely heavily on labour to extract minerals from the ground.
Resistance to change is caused by the fact that South African mines are conservative in their thinking, having developed a preference for that which has worked before. Also, it doesn’t help that efforts to increase mechanisation have been met with suspicion by both government and labour.
During the show, much effort was made to promote the advancement of mechanisation, digitisation and automation. According to exhibitors, adopting modern technology is no longer a choice; it is needed to remain globally competitive. It can help to address problems with productivity, while improving labour relations and worker safety.
Advances in manufacturing are only partially responsible for prolonged engine and component life. The fact is advances in lubricant technology are the biggest contributors to longer engine and component life.
Still, many question the importance of using the “correct” or specified oil in their machines. What makes one oil different, or more suitable for a particular application than another?
Several fuel suppliers and lubricant manufacturers, including Engen, Castrol and Total, were there to answer this question among others.
Health and safety
With health and safety high on the agenda at all mining operations, exhibitors involved in safety made up a large proportion of those at the show. Everybody knows that having the safety equipment to protect employees is required by law. Today, the emphasis has moved to ensuring the equipment gets used…
The objective is to reduce or eliminate sound, dust and other environmental dangers to a level where they do not pose a danger to workers. In circumstances where personal protective equipment (PPE) cannot be avoided it should be made comfortable so as not to restrict workers.
The goal is to make PPE more stylish, better fitting and easier to use. This will ensue that the equipment is used instead of being put aside because it affects workers’ ability to do their job.
Telematics and tracking
Telematics is as big a part in mining as it is in logistics. Telematics is used to track the movement of assets and keep tabs on operations. The latest development in this field is the use of telematics to track people and other objects.
Besides improving productivity, at the end of the day if someone doesn’t return to the surface, tracking can be used to locate and rescue them if necessary.