Tyron Adam reports on how a beneficiation plant in Zambia has saved US$1 million deploying modern, simplified pump technology
Until January 2017, a copper beneficiation plant in Zambia was using pumps from six different manufacturers. This resulted in a steadily growing inventory of similar spare parts and maintenance procedures. As a result, the effort and costs for necessary maintenance of the pumps were constantly increasing. Thus the plant operator decided to simplify its spare parts inventory and maintenance - and only use pumps from a single supplier.
Netzsch, represented by its subsidiary in South Africa, was chosen for the reliability of its pumps. The Zambian company replaced 36 pumps for polymer applications and has subsequently saved US$1 million by reducing its overall spare parts inventory.
“A lot of separate processes were running in the treatment systems, each needing their own special equipment. But the heart of each process is typically a pump, to convey either the mineral sludge or the chemicals,” explains Roger Willis, business field manager Chemical, Pulp & Paper. “It is also typical for each OEM to have a preferred pump supplier and the plant systems are therefore fitted with lots of similar pumps from different manufacturers.” The result is that the number of similar components to be ordered and stored increases - which means complex maintenance processes that require a lot of time and money.
To reduce the number of pump suppliers, the German manufacturer is a good choice. It supplies various types of displacement pumps, including Nemo progressing cavity pumps, Notos multi screw pumps and Tornado rotary lobe pumps.
Netzsch also provides comprehensive aftersales services, including everything from commissioning and documentation to spare parts sales, service and maintenance, replacement of wearing parts and plant modernisation. “We are making every effort to keep the costs of spare parts and maintenance to a minimum so we can provide a cost-effective system,” says Willis.
After delivering pumps to a plant and commissioning, Netzsch therefore puts a lot of effort into visiting plants to discuss the supply of spare parts and the necessary training with maintenance personnel. As the company has an extensive network of subsidiaries, including production plants in Germany, Brazil, China and India, and sales organisations in 30 other countries, its 2,000 employees can generally reach sites in the remotest regions.
Cost savings from standardisation
The plant maintenance department then checked the maintenance costs of all its existing pumps. It turned out that standardising to one manufacturer would produce large savings. The operator chose to switch to pumps from Netzsch because of the reliability and stability of the pumps that were already installed.
“We agreed a running programme of changes, which involved gradually depleting the spare parts for the other manufacturers and replacing the pumps that were not from Netzsch one by one,” explains Willis. In total, the company supplied 36 pumps. The changes, once implemented, allowed the plant operator to reduce its spare parts inventory substantially and save US$1 million.