MechChem Africa visits the Jet Park facilities of hydraulics specialist RB Engineering Services and talks to the company’s MD, Richard Bartholomew.
First registered in South Africa in 1981, RB Engineering Services (RBES) began as a designer and manufacturer of high-pressure water-based solutions for the mining industry, such as control and safety valves, jetting guns and couplings. “We did a lot of work on dust suppression systems, for example, to remove the dust and fume after a blast,” begins Bartholomew.
Growing quickly, a dedicated factory was built in Kya Sands in 1990, where the company developed pure water-based high-pressure equipment for the New Hydropower mining system, including the then revolutionary Combi Valve.
Today, RBES has become an hydraulic engineering specialist with niche expertise in shutter-lifting systems for the construction industry; freight handling systems for companies such as Schenker, SA Airlink, Swissport, African Flight Services and Mega freight; and for general industry, custom-designed hydraulic presses, specialised machines, hydraulic cylinders, hand crimping tools, hydraulic cable guillotines, buzz bar twisting machines, scissor lifts and hydraulic turnover tables.
Hydraulic shutter lifting systems
The most notable success for RBES has been its hydraulic climbing systems for the construction industry. “We have developed systems with up to ten cylinders under independent control, capable of lifting up to 200 t of platform, formwork and/or safety screening,” Bartholomew tells MechChem Africa.
“These are whole systems that are ratcheted up a building as it is constructed. The shuttering platforms, which include access ladders and safety railing, enable rebar to be set in place and concrete to be poured to suit the specific design of the building under construction,” he says.
RBES’ most recent export success is the Trump Ocean Club Hotel and Casino in Panama City. “We designed and manufactured the shutter-lifting systems for the entire building’s lift shafts and mast, which were vertical lift systems, along with the more complex system for the hotel’s arcs, which were required to lift the shuttering upwards and sideways before re-positioning it in order to form the parabolic shape with varying curvatures,” Bartholomew reveals.
At 284 m, this 70-storey, 5-star hotel is now the tallest building in Panama …