From the growing of sugar cane on the agricultural side to sugar refineries on the production side, leading supplier Bearings International (BI) plays a key role in this important economic sector. With 60 years’ experience servicing this industry, it has gained meaningful expertise that has cemented its role as a critical supplier.
“The sugar industry remains a major focus and contributor to our portfolio,” comments Nick Allanson, Branch Manager for Sugar Chain in Durban. As a distributor of various quality brands in the industrial power transmission sector, BI is able to incorporate these products into the drive solutions it supplies to the sugar industry.
Typical solutions provided relate to the conveyor equipment used to move the cane through all the stages of processing required to extract the sucrose, to the final movement of the waste by-product used as a combustible fuel source for the boilers.
Reliable conveyor systems are critical for sugar mills to maintain productivity, as any stoppages here have a knock-on effect on the entire process. “Mill operations are dynamic in nature, with so many stages being interdependent. Hence the production time that can be lost is substantial. It also takes a meaningful period to get a mill up and running again and its throughput balanced,” Allanson comments.
Here BI focuses on stocking loose components, which plays an important role in servicing the sugar industry. “Without loose components, we do not have the flexibility necessary to respond timeously to the demands of a particular sugar mill, remembering that mills have differing chain requirements,” explains Allanson.
Loose components are vital for the refurbishment of used chains, a particular focus for BI for many years. As profitability in the sugar industry has come under increasing pressure over the past five years, extending the life of chains is essential to assist in reducing the operational costs of sugar mills. Without a large stock of loose components, BI would be unable to contribute to reducing the total cost of ownership of these chains.
Allanson elaborates that every year in the off-crop season, which is when the sugar mills have stopped crushing, particular chains are sent to the Durban facility for stripping, inspection, refurbishment and re-assembly.
However, it is capable of conducting on-site inspections of chain conveyor equipment in order to assist sugar mills is assessing whether or not a particular chain can be used for the next season without any undue risk placed on production output.