In line with its oil sands business growth, engineering solutions provider Weir Minerals Africa has received capital expenditure approval worth R30-million for upgrades at its Heavy Bay foundry in Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape.
Significantly, the foundry supplies castings across the globe both to Weir Minerals operations as well as direct customers.
Weir Minerals GM operations Danillo van Eck tells Engineering News that this approval will lead to the company’s opening its fourth moulding bay, which it plans to have commissioned at the end of June this year.
Van Eck explains that the moulding bay will be able to produce four castings of 18 t in a month, “which is our largest box size of 4.5 m × 4.5 m”.
This will enable the foundry to reach 100% capacity, with the plant currently only operating at between 60% and 70% capacity.
The Heavy Bay foundry has the capacity to produce about 500 t a month of castings, but with the fourth bay, Van Eck notes that Weir Minerals intends to ramp this up to about 630 t/m which would, subsequently, require a three-shift system to be implemented adding a shift from 22:00 to 06:00.
Van Eck notes that this would result in employment for 50 people, in addition to the 140 personnel already working on the three bays.
While quality control calls for inspection at the end of a process, quality assurance focuses on redesigning the elements of a process to ensure that the quality of the product is 100% when it reaches the client, he points out.
Other investments in the foundry include the installation of a R10-million Giesserei Umwelt Technik (GUT) secondary sand reclamation plant last year.
The investment is aimed at improving the reclamation and reusability of the sand used in the moulding process, thus reducing the impact on the environment while improving the quality of the product at substantially reduced production costs, Van Eck explains.
The GUT plant is a pneumatic conveyor system that is operating at 14 t/h. The plant consists of three 70 t silos that store the facing sand, reclaimed sand and new sand, cooler-classifiers, rotary scrubber and magnetic separator.
Although the foundry has ISO 9000 accreditation, it is transitioning to the new standard, ISO 9001 accreditation. “Quality is a central philosophy at Weir Minerals and its quality strategy has brought about a fundamental shift from quality control to quality assurance,” concludes Van Eck.