Multotec provides an essential service to the South African mining industry. As such, while many South Africans have been on full lockdown at home, Multotec has been hard at work. As the coal mines provide an essential service to power stations, MM, MPE and MWL and the Multotec Services teams have had small numbers of employees working throughout lockdown.
At the end of the Easter weekend, Multotec Rubber was urgently called on to deliver and install mill liners for a Platinum mine customer. Whilst production of these liners had already begun, the lockdown had prevented the completion of full manufacture. Multotec needed production departments to resume. Permits were obtained for the initial shift into the press shops, as well as for employees from sand blasting and painting, facility maintenance and inventory and planning.
Production departments were opened according to new procedures, rules and regulations that EXCO drew up for Multotec, complying with government instructions and keeping our employees safe and virus-free.
Hand sanitiser was another obstacle but was obtained by procurement. Social distancing rules were communicated to everyone, and with an excellent idea from MWL, each employee had their own key tag and a set of hooks outside ablution blocks. This limited the number of people having showers to 2 per ablution block at any given time, in order to practice social distancing when masks are not used.
Multotec employees making use of new masks .
The next challenge was getting suppliers on-board, and with many thanks to the procurement department, permits were provided to these companies. On the 19th of May we had a short supply of bonding liquid, putting production levels at risk, as the importer of this chemical was working with 30 % staffing levels.
Multotec Rubber went into lockdown with a 4-month outstanding order book and as the sales, internal sales and commercial employees were working from home, a 4 ½ months outstanding order book was reached by the time production employees started in the press shops. With this level of orders, we increased our production rates and brought in the rest of the press shop and despatch teams.
Working from home was, and remains, possible as all employees took their computers home and have hard-working attitudes. With well-organised employee work ethic, every task that takes place at work - quoting, working on JDE, processing orders, processing invoices and everything else – is easily executed from home.
Multotec’s technical teams have been doing amazing work from home, including new mill liner designs, design reviews, completing and signing off design changes (that often get put at the back of the queue when a production job takes priority), wear rate comparisons and completing DEM simulations on mill liner designs.
Wilna Hoffman organised a huge training exercise that was carried out with customers, such as Anglo Platinum and several Project Houses, on Microsoft Teams. Multotec employees have become exceptional at using this communication technology yet have also been adaptable and flexible in making use of other communication technologies such as Webex.
The Multotec Rubber field service teams have become used to working with permits and travelling across provincial boundaries. However, field service teams face the issue of attempting compliance with necessary social distancing rules while inside the mills, when carrying lifters and putting them into position. Thus, a lot of hand and tool sanitising continues to take place to create a sanitised working environment.
Production completed a risk assessment for Covid-19, and employees who cannot avoid close contact, such as our mould setters, press operators loading and emptying the moulds and the despatch employees packing crates, have been issued face shields to wear with their masks. The safety of our people is most important.
The Multotec work environment follows COVID-19 safety procedures and regulations (as specified by EXCO).
Global and national rules and regulations that minimise the transmission of the Covid-19 virus could be in place indefinitely, even after South Africa moves down risk levels. Even when completely out of lockdown, these rules and implemented practices are sure to continue evolving, to which Multotec will too, evolve and adapt.