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Specialist helps mines save on maintenance costs

More and more mines are seeing the benefits and the profitable returns of investing in condition monitoring, with a direct positive impact on productivity and machine availability, and reduced maintenance costs, enthuses condition monitoring specialist WearCheck.

The company provides condition monitoring services in Central Africa through its two Zambian laboratories that are strategically located in the north, in close proximity to the region’s major mines, which are clustered along the Copperbelt, near the country’s northern border.

WearCheck manages a laboratory at Lumwana, in the North-Western province, which tested its first oil sample in 2007, while WearCheck Kitwe, in the north-east, switched on its laboratory instruments in 2013 for the first time.

WearCheck Zambia draws its customer base predominantly from the mining industry, including copper and other mineral mines, as well as Gemfields’ Kagem emerald mine, in Lufwanyama.

The mine, WearCheck enthuses, is one of the biggest emerald-producing mines in the world.

Other Zambian customers include operations in the sugar, cement, lime and transport industries, as well as energy and power generation, the food industry and quarrying.

The condition monitoring tests offered by WearCheck Zambia include used-oil analysis, transformer oil analysis (namely moisture, acid and dielectric strength tests), diesel fuel testing and coolant analysis.

Where necessary, transformer oils are sent to the WearCheck speciality lab, in Johannesburg, for dissolved gas analysis, and printed circuit board (known as PCB) and furanics tests.

Between the labs in Kitwe and Lumwana, WearCheck employs eight laboratory workers, all of whom are Zambian nationals and have undergone extensive WearCheck training.

While WearCheck also has an on-site lab at the Kibali gold mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), WearCheck Zambia enthuses that it also does a fair amount of work in the DRC’s Katanga province, as well as some work for mines in Tanzania.

Both Zambian operations are fully equipped with state-of-the-art laboratory equipment and offer a 24-hour sample turnaround time. An on-site sampling service is also available on request.

WearCheck Zambia sales and support staff member Boniface Yuwama believes the steady growth in the company’s Zambia and surrounding areas customer base is attributable to the increased awareness of the positive spin-offs of an effective condition monitoring programme.

“Many customers have contacted us to thank us for saving a particular piece of machinery from unscheduled failure through predictive maintenance testing – a failure which would have been a disaster for them in terms of productivity, [as well as] financially. We enjoy this feedback, as it means that our programme is a success,” said Yuwama.

WearCheck has enjoyed steady organic growth over the past few years and the company footprint includes 15 world class laboratories across Africa and beyond.

In addition to the two labs in Zambia and the one in the DRC, the company has facilities in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Middelburg, in South Africa, and in Mozambique, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, India and Dubai.

WearCheck Managing Director Neil Robinson attributes the growth to the company’s “unwavering commitment to the outstanding reliability of lab results, a supreme dedication to customer service and producing measurable successes for customers.”

He further enthuses that customers are able to see for themselves the savings in the bottom line that result from condition monitoring.

“This is a good incentive for them to renew their contract and extend the programme to more components in new areas,” Robinson said.

As a mark of the company’s commitment to excellence, WearCheck enthuses, it is the only condition monitoring company on the African continent to earn ISO 9001 quality certification and ISO 14001 certification for its environmental management programme, as well as ISO 17025 laboratory-centric quality management accreditation.

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