MechChem Africa

Multotec Group company, Mato Products, has completed a R4-million refurbishment of its clip-manufacturing machine, one of three German-built machines in the world. MechChem Africa talks to the company’s general manager, Benjamin Sibanda about Mato’s history and its conveyor belt lacing and belt cleaning solutions.

MATO was first established in Germany back in 1906 as manufacturer of its world-leading belt fastening systems for joining high-performance conveyor belts used for safety-critical applications. “Mato Products South Africa was started in 1987 and has seen three generations of employees carry the Mato baton,” says Sibanda.

The company began trading in Southern African over 30 years ago when Ernst Holtz received an offer from Germany that he could not refuse via an old business acquaintance Ronald Tuckey from the then Rhodesia. The offer included amongst others, a year’s supply of consignment stock to get the business up and running.

Mato Belt clip machine for belt lacingWith the refurbished machine, Mato is looking forward “to another 30 years of service excellence to Southern Africa’s conveyor belt industry,” says Sibanda.

Then, in the 1980s, Mato installed a clip-manufacturing machine in South Africa, one of only three in the world – and the other two are in Germany. “So local manufacturing of our belt clips for the Mato belt fastening system extends back over 25 years. Today, the South African focus of the business embraces the belt fastening clips and accessories, the lacing systems and tools needed to install our clips, as well as a comprehensive range of belt cleaning solutions,” Sibanda continues. “We are the only company outside of Germany entrusted with the manufacturing of Mato clips, and we now also offer belt cleaners that are safe to use and fastener-friendly to guarantee smooth and efficient conveyor belt functioning.”

To secure a further 30 years of trouble- free local clip production, Mato Products South Africa sent its ‘green monster’ to be refurbished by its German makers. “Our machine underwent an extensive refurbishment and upgrade programme during 2016, which will now enable us to offer higher levels of service to our customers,” Sibanda notes.

“The range of products that the machine can now produce, right here in Spartan, extends to clips from 5.0 mm belt thicknesses all the way up to 18 mm – and we can accommodate 20 mm thicknesses by skiving an additional 2.0 mm off the surface layer, which does not affect the joint strength,” he says.

Mato clips are fully locally manufactured and the refurnished machine has increased production speeds to enable an extra two months’ worth of production to Mato’s annual output.

Describing Mato’s belt lacing system, Sibanda says that it is an alternative to hot or cold vulcanisation for joining conveyor-belt sections. “Our system is ideal for underground conveyors transferring material to the surface and the technique is very well accepted in the coal mining industry.”

In the event of a belt breakdown, the lacing system, clips and pin are taken to the broken belt for an in -situ repair. “The belt ends are first drawn together and squared off nicely using one of our belt cutters. One side is then fitted and clamped into the lacing bed. A skiver is then used to remove the cover layer of the belt. This allows the metal clips to sit below the belt surface so that they can run smoothly over pulleys and past cleaners and scrapers,” Sibanda explains.

A row of clips is then inserted into the mating row of grooves on the lacing bed with the belt end positioned between the clip jaws. The belt is then tensioned in place by the lacing bed tensioning beam, then a steel chord is inserted over the top surface of the belt and tensioned across the belt such that it replicates a welding wire connecting the clip. “This is called the Wave Master system and it reduces edge stresses and ripples that are typical when fasteners are mechanically attached to conveyor belts, especially rubber belts,” he adds.

A manual lacing machine is then used to make the mechanical splice. Using the recommended two-stage lacing methodology, the machine pushes the staples through the belt. At the same time, the top of the clip is bent flush onto the belt and the staples are pushed through mating holes on the top surface of the clips before being bent backwards into matching grooves called staple guards.

“Exactly the same is then done to the other end of the belt. The two ends are then drawn together so that the clipped-ends mesh and the lacing pin is inserted to complete the joint – and as soon as tension is applied to the belt, this pin is locked into place,” Sibanda tells MechChem Africa.

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