Local original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) Trident South Africa, underground railway control systems manufacturer Battery Electric (BE) and
Southern Africa hydraulics engineering company Bearing Man Group (BMG) Hydraulics formed a consortium to improve and streamline the companies’ product and service offering to their customers in July.
Trident director Rob Steele tells Engineering News that the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has placed significant emphasis on locomotive braking, as the DMR has developed various strict guidelines, such as the Mine Health and Safety Act of 1996, which mines had to comply with over the last 15 years.
Therefore, he says OEMs, such as Trident, have had to develop sophisticated hydraulic braking systems for locomotives to achieve the required deceleration rates.
“We have been working with various companies for the past 12 years to ensure these standards were complied with. Trident also developed its own braking system,” Steele states.
However, for the past eight years, Trident has been buying BMG Hydraulics’ range of self-adjusting braking systems, as “it considers the BMG braking system to be the most effective”.
Steele says the consortium agreement stipulates that, effective from July 1, Trident is the sole licensed distributor of BMG’s self-adjusting braking systems to the South African mining industry.
Trident director Tommy Webster adds that the agreement also includes BE offering technical, maintenance and repair services to all the companies’ customers.
Steele says the mining industry, in particular, places significant emphasis on technical assistance in terms of training and field-service support, which BE will provide for customers.
He points out that BE has a large field-services division that services the hard-rock mining sector in South Africa.
Steele notes that Trident will be responsible for product distribution and training, in conjunction with BE.
Meanwhile, BE marketing director Hannes Potgieter says the consortium also benefits BE’s clients, as BMG’s braking system is “critically important” to ensure the effective stopping of locomotives.
He explains that BE’s electronic systems form an important link in transferring the command from the locomotive’s operator to the braking system to stop the locomotive.
Potgieter points out that, previously, each company – Trident, BMG and BE – would work separately on one locomotive.
“Now, with this agreement . . . we will work together on projects to ensure that the locomotives are built more cost effectively and in a shorter period, ” he enthuses.
Steele adds that another important factor is that the consortium will assist in ensuring improved customer service.
Potgieter points out that BE has service facilities near the consortium’s clients, in the Rustenburg and Potchefstroom areas of the North West, to provide fast and efficient services.
However, he notes that the coordination of the consortium’s operations will be managed by Trident through its head offices in Germiston, on the East Rand.
Webster adds that most of the consortium’s product distribution will also be done from Trident’s head offices.
“Other aftermarket services will be provided by the consortium’s branch networks, and service exchange agreements with the mines will also be initiated,” he says.
Webster also points out that the consortium ensures all research and development intellectual property (IP) will be held by all three companies and that the companies’ skill sets can be pooled to improve overall product quality.
Webster says Trident is establishing partnerships throughout Africa.
In Kitwe, Zambia, the company is partnering with a local locomotive supplier to service the company’s fleet in the country.
Webster adds that Trident, through its Zambian subsidiary Bateman Trident Engineering, will also establish a pumps and direct current motor rewinder manufacturing and servicing facility, also in Kitwe, by the end of the year, to support the company’s mining clients.
“Trident invested about R10-million to develop the facility.”
He highlights that the Kitwe facility could potentially also service companies that have locomotive operations in the bordering Democratic Republic of Congo.
Trident international marketing manager Simon Lewis tells Engineering News that the company supplied two 6 t locomotives to a tunnelling project in Miami, the US, in September.
He says the project is a historic one for Trident, as it is the first time that the company is delivering a Goodman locomotive to the US, which is “where the locomotive’s IP was originally developed before Trident bought the IP in 2001”.
Lewis says there is potential for the company to increase the sales of its Goodman locomotives and rocker shovel loaders, as companies are undertaking tunnelling projects in the US and Canada.
He highlights that the company is also regularly supplying rocker shovel loaders through its agents to mines in Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador.
Lewis says Trident currently has more than 150 rocker shovel loaders in operation in Central and South America.
Further, he points out that there is a growing demand for locomotives and rocker shovels in Asia.
The company has supplied about ten locomotives and rocker shovels to the Philippines and Malaysia over the past five years.
Lewis comments that Trident is impressed by the success it has achieved in these countries, as it had to compete with major regional equipment suppliers, such as China and India.
He believes that the high-quality nature of the Trident’s product is the primary reason for the company’s continued success in the Asian mining sector.
Fuel Cell Technology
Potgieter points out that BE, in conjunction with Trident, is assisting platinum miner Anglo American Platinum in a project to beneficiate platinum by developing fuel cells to power locomotives.
“The fuel cell units are intended to eventually replace mining locomotives’ lead-acid batteries,” he explains.
Five units are running at BE’s head office in Jet Park, on the East Rand.