To meet high aggregates demand for the ongoing N3 national road upgrade, AfriSam has successfully transformed its small KwaZulu Natal-based Umlaas Road Quarry into a ‘big operation’ using existing resources. Despite having a lean team on site, the operation has successfully doubled its volumes.
Part of government’s 62 Strategic Integrated Projects gazetted as part of the Infrastructure Investment Plan approved by Cabinet in 2020, the N3 national road upgrade – which focuses on an 80 km section from Durban to Pietermaritzburg – continues apace.
Located right at the doorstep of the very first package of the project – the 6 km stretch between the Dardanellas Interchange and the Lynnfield Park Interchange – Umlaas Road Quarry is playing a key role in keeping this vital national project ticking.
The magnitude of the project has placed severe pressure on local construction material suppliers in the area. To provide context, the project required 300 000 tonnes of fill material per month for the past two years. However, the past few months have seen the demand scale tilting in favour of the ‘blue’ material, confirms Theolan Govender, Regional Manager overseeing the AfriSam Umlaas Quarry.
From the onset, the team at AfriSam’s Umlaas Quarry has always focused its efforts on the ‘blue’ material, with AfriSam’s Pietermaritzburg Quarry, located some 30 km away, providing the necessary backup with the supply of sub-base material, including G2, G4 and G6.
“Due to the sheer scale of the project, we had to more than double our pre-Covid volumes in 2021, maintaining the same feat in 2022,” says Govender. “A key talking point is our ability to push these massive volumes using the existing resources, thus transforming this small quarry into a big operation using a very lean team.”
To achieve this feat, AfriSam mobilised two existing trains of mobile crushers and screens (comprising eight machines in total) to complement the static plant.
To maintain high plant availability on the old mobile trains, AfriSam has deployed a maintenance specialist who is well versed with mobile solutions. The stringent maintenance regime has already paid dividends; the team has managed to double the mobile plant’s availability, running at a 55% overall equipment effectiveness, which is quite extraordinary for these 20 year-old units.
“Effective management of resources has been key to keeping up with the massive aggregates demand. The lean team at AfriSam’s Umlaas Quarry has demonstrated its ability to do more with less. This has been done safely and cost-effectively, which speaks directly to the team’s competence and commitment to the cause,” concludes Govender.