Mechanical Technology Archive

Destined for the power sector, Bonfiglioli South Africa is currently delivering on the largest-ever order by value from its HDO range of bevel helical reducers. MechTech talks to Steve Herringer.

Bonfiglioli’s heavy duty parallel shaft (HDP) and bevel helical (HDO) gear units were launched into South Africa nearly 10 years ago to complement the company’s strength in high torque, high power planetary reducers.

Steve Herringer Bonfiglioli projects South Africa“Going back to 2008, we started using the then new range to replace older units in the power industry, specifically on bucket elevators,” says Herringer. “We were able to look at the nameplate data from existing units and, after finding out as much as possible about the application and the original product, we were able to install like-for-like replacements from our HDP/HDO range,” he tells MechTech.

“Based on our products’ performance on these installations, we were invited earlier this year to tender on a major refurbishment project. Our initial involvement was again on the bucket elevators, but we were also asked to look at units for overland conveyor belts,” he reveals.

The total order, the largest by value yet supplied by Bonfiglioli South Africa, comprised 21 large HDO 140 conveyor drive gearboxes; 15 smaller HDO 100s and a total of nine HDO 130s for bucket elevators, “which also had to be fitted with a small A50 bevel helical ‘pony drive’ for running under maintenance conditions.

“We regard all of these units as stock buildable items, which can be locally assembled quickly from parts held in stock. Our local assembly programme allows us to offer a very short delivery period,” Herringer adds.

Bonfiglioli HDO 130 pony drive bucket elevatorsAt the time of writing, the final batch of HDO 140s, along with 10 of the HDO 100s were being loaded onto trucks for delivery to the client. “The assembly of the 130s with pony-drives is now being finalised for delivery next week in batches of four,” said Herringer at that time.

In addition to the pony-drives, these units were customised with additional piping and lubrication points to facilitate maintenance once installed. “Rigid flange couplings on the low speed shaft, together with safety guards are also to be fitted to these units prior to being shipped to site,” he informs MechTech.

While some of the HDO 140s were shipped from Europe, “simply to meet the required delivery deadlines”, all of the bucket elevator drives were locally assembled from in-stock components. “We are accredited by our parent company to assemble up to size HDP/HDO 140 in South Africa. The same strict build and quality standards applied at the factory have to be adhered to. This means that all branches accredited to assemble gearboxes do so at the same European factory standard.

“We strive to offer very short delivery times, but we cannot stock for every possible gearbox combination. It is therefore sometimes necessary to source the product or components from one of our bigger overseas factories,” he explains.

The two largest bevel helical units ever sold into South Africa, for example, two HDO 160s with 125 kN ratings, have recently been supplied for heavily loaded belt feeders on a local mine. “These were manufactured and assembled in Italy and shipped to South Africa for installation,” Herringer says.

Bonfiglioli’s project approach

Launched in March 2008, Bonfiglioli’s Projects department was established to take full advantage of the HDP/HDO offering. “We are in a unique position in that we can offer planetary, parallel shaft and bevel helical gearbox options in the heavy duty application field. This enables us to participate in a cross section of project work where a number of different sizes and solutions might be required,” Herringer relates.

“Since 2008, we have been building our project capability. This includes access to a global technical platform. Through this communication portal, our local engineering department has access to a worldwide database of applications, which enables us to offer technically proven solutions with very quick turnaround times. In addition to that, our computer aided calculation package ensures that the selection of equipment closely maps customer requirements. Complimenting this is our local capability to tailor our product offering to suit local environmental conditions,” he adds.

Herringer says that 2015 was an excellent year for the projects divisions. “We did a large number of projects last year, including an acid mine drainage project that, in terms of unit volumes, was our biggest to date. On completion of the work, we had specified, assembled and installed some 76 units for the treatment plant – mostly HDP 100s to HDP 130s for mixers and aerators,” he reveals

“We are now at the point where clients have put faith in us and are pleased with our offering. We participated in a project for Sierra Leone while the country was in the midst of the Ebola crisis. In spite of this and the many other difficulties in implementing projects in Africa, the client did a fantastic job of meeting their delivery schedule – and we supported that endeavour. We strive to create a pleasant shopping experience for all our customers,” he assures.

For the Sierra Leone project, stand-alone gearboxes were supplied but projects routinely require a complete drive train assembly (power pack) that includes the motor, high-speed flexible or fluid coupling, a customised baseplate, rigid low speed couplings, safety guards and possibly also a braking system. With higher value and increased local content, projects such as these are interesting for us to tackle,” he adds.

In addition to supplying complete solutions from a product perspective, long-term support is available through the company’s local service and repair division, based at Bonfiglioli’s Johannesburg head office.

“In terms of our support philosophy, the customer is central throughout the Bonfiglioli world. The global group has operated on customer-oriented principles for over 60 years and has organised its market support and customer assistance along clear ‘customer-first’ guidelines.

“Bonfiglioli has become a leader in the global market because of its ability to provide rapid assistance, customised solutions and expert teams to support customers’ design departments in all project phases,” Herringer concludes.

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