“We spend much time on evaluating clients’ enquiries, covering their specifications performance and maintenance-cycle requirements, as well as quality and material, to develop solutions accordingly,” Vital Engineering MD Dodds Pringle tells Mining Weekly.
He adds, however, that mine end-clients do, at times, enter into low-cost, low-end purchasing agreements with non-original-equipment manufacturers (non-OEMs) and suppliers to replace, manage or change products or equipment over a mine’s life.
“While this process invariably takes place after the guarantees have expired, it could have knock-on effects if the high standards demanded at the project outset are lowered through the use of substandard or low-quality, nonperforming products for the rest of the project’s duration.”
This could potentially lead to equipment failures, workers slipping or falling, downtime and even fatalities in some cases, owing to the products not being designed to perform as originally specified and required. “So, short-term, cost-savings equal long-term, continual cost and safetyimplications.”
He points out that there is sometimes a large discrepancy between the standards specified during contract development and purchasing components thereafter for maintenance, owing to cost-saving objectives.
“So, while we offer SLAs, sometimes they are not viewed within the context of safety. Not adhering to these SLAs could result in safety issues at the plants later on, as well as failures and higher product life cycles,” notes Pringle.
“We ascribe this to mining companies realising the cost of using their own resources, welders and boilermakers for maintenance purposes. There is also a growing awareness of the waste involved in using standard product sheets, the transport of components to and from galvanisers, and the time required to do so.”
Pringle states that these considerations are becoming deciding factors in using an accredited OEM company to undertake maintenance work.
Meanwhile, for ease of maintenance, Vital Engineeringoffers a free evaluation service to plant owners wanting to review the safety and performance of Vitagrid or other products, namely flooring, handrailing and expanded metal, installed at their operations.
“We also offer assistance in developing maintenance cycles and checks on safety- critical items, such as fixings, for corrosion and overloading, to avoid lost-time injuries and potential fatalities,” Pringle avers.
Although newer and more suitable products for mines to reduce risk and improve safety are always becoming available, often little attention is paid to this within maintenance cycles, being driven by price rather than safety.
For example, ensuring high welding and fitment quality where products are being galvanised ensures that porosity, entrapment or weeping is limited and, ultimately, reduces the requirement for continual, regular product replacement.
“Not only do we develop new product solutions but we also regularly review our manufacturing process and skills during the process to improve our current product offering and reduce maintenance costs,” Pringle highlights.
This product development is the result of understanding the different demands placed on mining operations – from safetyto economies of scale – to achieve cost-efficient miningoperations for shareholders, he adds.
Since 1939, Angus McLeod and Vital Engineering have established a reputation for quality and service delivery in the manufacture of all types of gratings, fibreglass gratings, stairtreads, pressed floors, expanded metals and safety handrails.
Vital Engineering Johannesburg
Phone: +27 11 898 8500
Fax: +27 11 918 3000
Office: Lea Road, Anderbolt, Boksburg North, Johannesburg, South Africa