MechChem Africa

MechChem Africa talks to Raymond Obermeyer, MD of SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa, about the expansion of the role and range of the company’s X-series helical and bevel helical gear units and his outlook following his first few years of leading the local entity.

“While the mining industry is not running at 100%, many mines still rely on old equipment that is getting to the stage where it has to be replaced,” begins Obermeyer. “We are picking up a lot of service and replacement work on old and inefficient technologies such as worm drives, which we are replacing with our proven X-series bevel boxes, for example.

“We now have a significant installed base of these X-series industrial gear units, which have been very well received in a number of different markets and this gives us service work that goes hand in hand with any installation,” he tells MechChem Africa.

Accompanying the gearbox business, SEW-EURODRIVE also now has its IE3 high-efficiency low voltage (LV) motor range, further enhancing its high-efficiency replacement offering. “We are now able to offer clients a drive train that includes our own 0,37 to 350 kW IE3 motor units: for conveyors, mixers, pumps, fans and a host of other systems,” he says. “And while we are a relatively small new player in the motor market, we can offer quality, flexibility and competitive pricing, which gives our gearbox customers a single-supplier alternative,” he adds.

Further supporting the company’s high-efficiency, single-supplier drive train offering are SEW-EURODRIVE’s variable speed drive (VSD) range. “VSD use is always a trade off. The younger generation likes them, while older hands tend to be suspicious, preferring soft starters and fluid couplings. There is definitely a trend towards electronics, though, even in harsh mining environments,” Obermeyer says.

SEW eurodrive X Series Test“Currently,” he notes, “the market is still shrinking, skills are being lost and many companies are finding it difficult to survive. We assemble our own units, which helps us to remain strong. At any time, our component stock enables us to offer excellent delivery times for locally assembled units. Instead of 30 weeks, we can supply a replacement unit in three weeks – and down to one day, depending on the urgency and our backlog,” he assures.

SEW-EURODRIVE’s X-series helical and bevel industrial gear units are currently assembled in its Mpumalanga factory in Nelpruit. “We are approaching 40% local content on these units, and we are expanding the locally assembled range. We are adding new ratios and both two- and three-stage units to further improve drive efficiencies. Our two stage IG units are more compact and they offer better thermals, which adds to the other well established features of these boxes: the modular nature of the design, with its streamlined range of gear wheels, which gives us the ratio flexibility from a set of four or five different gear wheel sizes; and the fact these units are invertible, which means we can use a single output shaft on one side – users who keep spare units need not worry about whether a left-side or right-side unit is needed,” Obermeyer tells MechChem Africa.

“And while these units very successful in mine conveyor applications, we are also doing exceptionally well with mixers in the mining and minerals processing industries,” he says.

“A significant percentage of our current business involves replacing older boxes from other original suppliers. As part of our service package, we have the skills to design and build dedicated faceplates and to put the required shaft sizes into our boxes to make a like-for-like swap out possible. These systems will do everything that the old box was doing, with better reliability and with much better energy efficiency,” Obermeyer notes.

SEW EURODRIVE is also finding alternative markets for its IG units: in the water industry, for example, where municipalities are under pressure to replace ailing infrastructure. “While the R50-milion projects are no longer available, we are now servicing 20 or so R2-million projects instead. The big projects are being broken down into several stages being implemented over longer time periods,” Obermeyer notes.

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