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African Petrochemicals is South Africa’s leading quarterly print and digital trade magazine for the past 16 years. Featuring all the latest petrochemical industry news, special reports, technological advances and much more.

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thyssenkrupp brings the test laboratory to the customer’s doorstep

thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions South Africa (tkISSA) has streamlined the sample testing process with the recent development of a mobile containerised High-Pressure Grinding Roll (HPGR) test unit. By enabling customers to test samples on site, this eliminates the costs, time delays and complex logistics related to the transportation of samples for testing purposes.

The inspiration to create this distinctive containerised laboratory was spurred on by a customer who required the pre-crushing of uranium ore causing various dilemmas in ore processing, transportation logistics as well as handling of radioactive material. Taking all these factors into consideration, the company came up with a game-changing idea; bring the test laboratory to the customer. The mobile laboratory consists of a semi-pilot scale HPGR fully enclosed in a 20-foot container.

“The HPGR was developed in Germany, but we have adapted the design for manufacturing in South Africa,” says Gerhard Van Wyk, Process Manager: Minerals Processing at tkISSA. When installed in the container unit features a ground-breaking plug-and-play configuration; as the machine is transported as a final assembly and customers only need to supply a main power connection, it is possible to immediately start the machine for production.

Depending on customers’ needs the capabilities of the containerised laboratory include the ability to run single pass tests on numerous different material types. “This would be required to determine the HPGR’s specific performance parameters,” explains Van Wyk. In addition, this versatile lab is also able to process large quantities of sample through the unit, ready for downstream processing. “In fact, with our very first unit, which we rolled out to a customer in Africa in Q2 2019, was used for the crushing of a massive 700t sample, bearing testament to the success of our locally adapted design.” This unit was subsequently returned to the original installation in thyssenkrupp’s test facility and the first test campaign since its return has already been completed.

This containerised lab offers a host of benefits; the fact the machine is deployed at the rock face at the customer’s mine removes the need for sample transportation which leads to increased uptime and enhanced productivity for lowest total cost of ownership for the customer. tkISSA will also configure the machine into the customer flowsheet if required.

“Not only are we responsible for the manufacture of the machine but, given the fact that it remains on the customer’s site for a relatively short period we are also responsible for operation,” notes Van Wyk. He also points out that the company will provide an additional process engineer if the customer requires specialised tests. In the event of longer durations, thyssenkrupp will train the site personnel and empower them to operate the machine themselves.

thyssenkrupp has already received enquiries from America, Australia and Europe for this solution. Based on the experience gained by operating the unit, thyssenkrupp plans to develop Container Version 2.0 which will incorporate Industry 4.0 equipment as well as a wide range of upgrades.

According to Van Wyk, who is Concept Designer and Project Manager, adapting the containerised lab was a solid team effort and he extends his sincere thanks to the entire team which includes Jeffrey Johns (Mechanical Engineer), Craig Harvey (Workshop Manager), Louis Nel (Workshop Apprentice), and Donald Swanepoel (Field Service Representative).

“We are extremely proud of our in-house developed and manufactured containerised laboratory which sets the sample testing benchmark,” says Philipp Nellessen, thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions CEO, Sub-Sahara Africa. “By continuously tailoring our offerings to meet customers’ needs, we look forward to further assisting them in maximising their productivity potential.”

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