Endress+Hauser builds customised calibration container for Africa’s MMM sector
Process automation specialist, Endress+Hauser South Africa has designed and built a portable calibration hub, the first of its kind, bringing its world-class process calibration technology to Mutanda Mine SARL (Mumi mine), an open-pit copper mine located within a remote area of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ghislain Mbayo, process control superintendent at Mumi, says that the project began when the mine urgently required a state-of-the art calibration and maintenance facility to ensure quality and production uptime and reduce unplanned shutdowns and cost. However, it did not want to build a facility due to the time it took to obtain building rights.
“Because we are situated so remotely, there had been no daily assistance with proper calibration at our process plant, something that we knew posed a great threat to our production target,” adds Mbayo.
Thinking out of the box resulted in a solution in the box, and the mine commissioned the Endress+Hauser South African office to design, build and supply its calibration and maintenance needs in one 3m x 6m container.
The completed container, which has since been transported by road from Johannesburg to its destination in the DRC’s Katanga Province, had to fulfil the mine’s objectives to obtain accurate measurements via advanced calibration and verification technology, conduct training on specific instruments and calibration methods, and enable both testing and fault finding.
“The best process plants must be able to identify their own performance strengths and weaknesses, then take that information and learn from those mistakes,” explains Mbayo. “We decided that if we wanted to learn from a workstation, the best solution was a container workstation. We could then look for and seize opportunities for the metallurgic ratio to be corrected and not use average values. This will ensure balancing between production budget versus loss production due to none correct input values.”
Wouter Carstens, head of the service department at Endress+Hauser South Africa led the project. He continues, “Our primary aim was to meet the needs of the customer and ensure that what we designed would optimise the mine and work in an efficient and safe manner when placed in a remote site – a must for any mining operation.”
Carstens points out that the entire solution was customised to fit the purpose, as set out by the customer to:
Minimise process value errors;
Keep to the production target, with a minimum efficiency loss by reading instruments accurately;
Archive data of all devices on our plant coming from the field;
Have the correct testing, calibration materials and procedures onsite; and
Ensure that instruments coming from Endress+Hauser, their calibration certificates and values are correct and aligned.
“We also wanted to check that the instrument will respond in a certain time to attend our span of zero calibration; values taken before field installation or during plant shutdown,” says Mbayo.
The internal and external layout of the container was key to fulfilling all requirements. “This means that everything – from the grids to the desks, plugpoints, windows and door was fitted” highlights Carstens. “The container we chose is also resistant to corrosion. This, together with its low maintenance and high quality, makes it an ideal product in the often harsh African territory and climate.”
The container at Mumi mine contains the following Endress+Hauser equipment:
- 1 x calibration workbench
- 1 x maintenance workbench
- 1 x mechanical bench with a vice
- An air-conditioning system, lights and plug sockets
- A computer with Memobase, Field Care and Field Data Manager
- 1 x RSG 35 data recorder
- 1 x CM422 for analytical testing
- A scale for density calibration
- Power supplies: 220V ac, 24V dc and 110V ac
- Field check for flow verifications
- 4 x instrument display panels
It also contains two pressure calibration units (-10 Bar to 600 Bar ranges) and two temperature calibration units (-30 to 425 degrees Celsius) – both products from a third party supplier.
“Once the container has reached its destination, it’s practically plug and play,” says Carstens. “This particular container requires a 220V ac power supply, but we are firmly committed to the unique needs of our diverse clients and can supply solar power and any other customisation they wish. It’s also an extremely secure solution, owing to the container’s building material, and the specially fitted security measures.”
Support and aftersales service will continue, with Carstens and a technician assisting with setting up the container once it has reached its destination, and providing training on all equipment. Annual checks will also take place to ensure that the equipment remains first-class.
Endress+Hauser currently supplies more than 95 percent of the field instruments deployed at the Mumi process plant. The calibration and maintenance container ideally complements these instruments. “At Mumi, we utilise Endress+Hauser technology as it is certified equipment with the best and highest ISO standards and value =,” states Mbayo.
“This container is an investment for our company. We will recover the costs quickly from production, because we can now properly analyse data and make clear decisions based on accurate values and stay on target with regards to our plant production,” concludes Mbayo. “Endress+Hauser put themselves in our shoes and delivered a solution that optimises our business.”
“What this project has shown, is that we can cater for a client’s unique needs as well as deliver on our promise to be ‘right here, right now’ by quickly transforming inefficient ‘old ways of doing things’ to new, innovative and accurate solutions that places you ahead of your competition. Best of all, we are pleased to have successfully built a customised solution in Africa that is both sophisticated and suitable for remote local operations,” says Carstens.
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