MechChem Africa

MechChem Africa visits the Parkhaven head office of BI and talks to Ross Trevelyan and Burtie Roberts about new strategies for taking product to market in South Africa’s constrained economy.

“While not a lot has changed with respect to what we do and the brands we offer, we are winning nice orders in the mining industry and starting to see more interest. No fireworks, the economy remains suppressed, but by becoming more driven, determined and innovative, we are progressing,” begins Trevelyan.

“In fact,” Roberts continues, “August is 14% up on the same month last year, and it’s all down to the hard work we have put in to capture increased market share. We are not an exclusive distributor of many of the brands we sell, so we need to work doubly hard to compete with other components suppliers, large and small, that are spread across the length and breadth of the country,” he notes.

1 Ross TrevelyanBurtie Roberts BI“So we focus heavily on service and value-add, getting our people knowledgeable about the products and their niche applications, then getting them out to customers to find out what we can deliver that will improve reliability, extend life and reduce the costs of their operations.

“We have taken on the challenge. In the current circumstances we all have to work very hard and, as a result, we are securing a number of successful orders,” Roberts adds.

Of particular note is BI’s success in the expansion of the coal-mining sector in the Northern Province for the new-build power station there. “This is a multi-million rand project for our bearings and housings for a stacker-reclaimer installation,” Trevelyan tells MechChem Africa.

“What is novel about this is that the mine has chosen split spherical roller bearings from FAG for the installation. These have excellent ratings, particularly for radial loads, and they are designed to fit into standard housings. They are ideal for use on large systems where the replacement of unsplit bearings would require costly additional work: the removal of gears or couplings, the dismounting of drives or the dismantling of shaft power trains. By using split spherical roller bearings, maintenance downtime of the machinery and plant reduces significantly, which is vital for a coal mine directly servicing the power industry,” he explains.

“In addition, though, we have an excellent relationship with the mine. We have invested in onsite stores with consignment replacement stock, which puts us in an ideal position to service the client very rapidly when maintenance support is required,” continues Roberts.

“Keeping replacement stock to support sales is another of our key competitive advantages. We strive not to have to go back to our OEMs for replacement components, because we know that lead times cause downtime, which usually costs the customer much more money than components and repairs,” argues Trevelyan.

Citing a recent success in the cement industry, Trevelyan says that the company’s premium brand Rexnord chain has become very well respected for use on bucket elevators in that industry. “For this client, the Rexnord premium chain product has now become a brand preference because it has proven to outlast the original products used,” he says.

“Also, we have secured a second large order for our mid- to upper-tier Kobo chain product, which is relatively new to us and one of our exclusive brands. Repeat orders are always satisfying because they prove how well a product has performed and the excellent returns that it offers,” Trevelyan notes.

A German brand with a 120-year history, Kobo chain is designed to handle abrasive materials such as cement being conveyed via conveyor pans, elevator buckets or reclaimer scraper shovels.

Stepping up the size scale, BI’s recent successes also include a very large Tschan coupling order for the petrochemical industry, which is being used to drive a 6.5 MW machine. Read more…

Click to download and read pdf


Contact MechChem Africa

Title: Editor
Name: Peter Middleton
Email: or
Phone: +27 11 622 4770
Fax: +27 11 615 6108

Title: Assistant Editor
Name: Phila Mzamo
Phone: +27 11 622 4770
Fax: +27 11 615 6108

Title: Advertising Manager
Name: Brenda Karathanasis
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

saiw logo block

sassda logo block

saiche logo block