Collaboration and innovation drive sustainability for Multotec

Growth and innovation in a depressed market flies in the face of convention. Remaining competitive and driving sustainability is not based on complacency, but rather on strategically mapping a series of plans that will carry businesses into the future. Multotec aims to become the number 1 screening media technology solutions provider for the global minerals processing industry within the next five to ten years. This objective was set down a year ago and involves the implementation of a number of initiatives.

With more than 40 years’ experience, an extensive branch infrastructure that is situated close to its customers and a team of technically skilled sales personnel with process knowledge, means that Multotec is geared up to achieve its documented goals. International exposure to best practice as well as collaboration with international companies and customers allow the company to stay abreast of technology.

Rhodes Nelson, managing director of Multotec Manufacturing explains that one of the company’s action points is to increase its collaborative efforts. “In the past collaboration was done within the local minerals processing environment and included inter-mineral collaboration. A major step has been setting up collaborative initiatives on a global scale and most importantly across industry sectors. Markets where collaboration is taking place range from traditional minerals processing in the mining sector to industrial processing, chemicals, food and beverage and aggregates. On a more intimate level, our collaboration with global sister companies will allow us to bring technologies and solutions into Africa.”

Another very significant initiative is the acceleration of Multotec’s R&D programme. This comprises collaboration with tertiary institutions, including universities in South Africa. “While Multotec R&D has largely always been needs driven, we welcome active participation from customers who have specific needs. In these instances we can develop an appropriate solution by including input and feedback from customers. Some of the R&D being done is aimed at reducing costs and also trying to improve process efficiencies, which proves challenging due to the fact that the industry is mature,” Rhodes continues.

Technology at the forefront

A number of product developments and innovations from Multotec are aimed at increasing throughput and efficiency in various applications. These include visual wear indicators on individual screen media panels that show the incremental wear rates that occur on screening media. In another example, three-dimensional screening, such as the Multotec TeePee ™ panel, is optimising open areas for screen panels.

A further screen panel development is the O-slot™ aperture, which is being used successfully in iron ore applications. This ensures that panel life is optimised while the screen still retains non blinding characteristics.

In general, the company now has a multiple of material options available, including various polyurethane grades, rubber grades and steel grades, which would be applied as a solution specific to the customers’ process application requirements.

Increasing productivity and value

Multotec subscribes to the philosophy that value should be emphasised over price. “There will always be companies that enter with a low cost strategy and use disruption strategies to gain market share. This is a short term achievement and certainly not a sustainable business model. Multotec supports a long term view of the market, which requires an innate understanding of where you can add value to customers’ operations. The current market conditions present an opportunity for customers that wish to engage in the process of optimising their processes,” he adds.

Roy Roche, vice president screening media at Multotec cites the Australian model of increasing value by employing smart methodologies and adopting automation of processes. This business model is resulting in a number of companies experiencing both reduced labour costs and increased value of offerings. He feels that in order to remain sustainable, plants in the South African mining industry will need to take heed of this trend and become automated within the next 20 years.

“This model results in highly predictable shutdowns and an increased time period between shutdowns, both of which reduce labour costs. Linked to this is the impact that online monitoring has had on customer operations. The return on investment of these systems is quite rapid and Multotec has a successful reference base of customer applications where costs have been reduced significantly through the introduction of online monitoring systems such as Hawkeye and Mill Scann,” says Roche.

“An interesting trend is a significant change in the end users’ expectation of product quality and adherence to product specification. This is predominantly because of the oversupply situation and applies specifically to coal and iron ore. This reality underlines the fact that sampling of product is now far more critical and there is a need for the feed envelopes to the various processes or to the final product be more accurate,” Roche says.

Not only will Multotec seek out new customers within the local arena, but it will continue to expand its market share in Africa, through a double-pronged representation initiative of Multotec branded companies and third party distributors. “Participation in the African market has to be undertaken on a country by country basis, taking into account the cultures of each region and the varying business models. We will leverage our experience in the local and global screening sector to promote our offering to the pan African market,” Rhodes concludes says.

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