MechChem Africa

To match its global parent’s standards and to offer faster and better drive solutions to its African customers, Bonfiglioli South Africa is currently expanding its Linbro Park facility. MechChem Africa talks to MD, Robert Rohman.

In spite of some difficult times in recent years, Bonfiglioli South African has weathered the storm. “Over the past few years, we have been continuously improving our standards, streamlining our business practices, reducing our costs and finding better ways of adding value to Bonfiglioli geared drive solutions. Today, we find ourselves positioned to offer excellent services at the best possible returns.

Bonfiglioli Robert Rohman bevel planetary combo drives“Not only do we offer the products that industry needs, more than at any previous time in our history we can engineer best-fit solutions that are tailored to the application and conditions involved, while meeting the high-level global quality standards required by our European parent,” begins Rohman.

“Because of our age, experience and willingness to service specific market needs, the range, suitability and industry spread of our products has expanded and, if anything, our reputation for the supply of drive solutions is better than ever,” he adds.

“In recent years, we have been connected to Bonfiglioli’s global quality and engineering e-business portal, which exploits the full potential of the Internet to provide better customised solutions for customers across the globe,” he continues. The system guides engineers through the selection and configuration of drive applications and provides all the relevant technical documentation to back it up.

“More importantly, it also supports our engineering department in the system de- sign process. All successfully implemented Bonfiglioli drive solutions are uploaded as references and their design and technical details are available to us. This enables our local engineers to fast-track projects using proven global experience gleaned from best-practice projects,” Rohman tells MechChem Africa.

“If a customer needs a mixer drive for a wastewater application, for example, then we can search the portal for every other mixer drive application we have ever done. When we find a similar application, we can quickly see where the oil pump was placed, how the drive was coupled and mounted and a host of other details that need to be developed before a solution can be finalised,” he explains.

The system, he says, has already enabled Bonfiglioli South Africa to branch out from its traditional strengths in mining and sugar into new areas, such as water treatment. “Our initial success was the Eastern Basin Acid

Mine Drainage (AMD) water treatment plant in Springs, where we developed and supplied 80 mixer drives. With a treatment capacity of 110 Ml/day, this is one of the largest high- density sludge (HDS) plants in the world,” Rohman notes.

“We are continuing to leverage our e-business portal to service the increasing demand for wastewater treatment solutions – and we are currently supplying a further eight mixer drives for a municipal wastewater treatment plant in Hammersdale in KwaZulu-Natal,” he adds.

To meet the requirements of the company’s head office in Italy, Bonfiglioli is upgrading its local engineering and technical resource capacity at its Linbro Park premises, expanding its team of engineers and building a new engineering design office to better deal with demand and to make collaboration easier.

“The aim is to be better able to offer turn- key and sophisticated engineered solutions that include all of the accountability and trace- ability associated with global OEM standards,” Rohman tells MechChem Africa.

To increase the total available floor area of the Linbro park premises, a new mezzanine floor is being installed to house the new engineering services division and other offices. In addition, high racking storage systems, all colour coded to match Bonfiglioli’s Italian standards, have been installed.

“The current walls separating the warehouse from the assembly area will disappear, which will enable us to expand the shop floor assembly area,” Rohman says.

An additional assembly press for its HD range of industrial gear units will be installed and the heavy crane will run the full length of the new bay. Additional assembly stations for smaller units and customisations will also be added.

“We hope to double up on the assembly area, most notably for our heavy duty products, which are still among the most robust mining solutions on the market,” says Rohman, pointing towards a completed batch of ‘combo drives’ for a Fluorspar project in the Northern Province.

“We do significant amounts of customisation work and all of it requires engineering. A particular strength is our combination planetary bevel-helical drives, which enable us to use electric motors to achieve very low-speed, high-torque rotation without having to resort to expensive hydraulic systems,” he explains.

Pointing towards a large planetary drive, he says that sugar remains buoyant. “Our planetary solutions are ideal for high torque and other demanding requirements of this industry and we are benefitting from RCL Foods upgrades in Pongola and Umfolozi,” he notes.

“For the first time since 2008, Europe is booming and lead times are increasing. While this is not happening here yet, we expect to see a pull through effect in the near future.

“We have survived the worst times and are now readying for the upturn – and we find ourselves much more efficient and better able to offer globally benchmarked engineered reducer and drive solutions,” Rohman concludes.


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