Sandvik Rock Processing drives manufacturing agility to meet rising demand

To keep pace with record orders, Sandvik Rock Processing is driving manufacturing agility.
To keep pace with record orders, Sandvik Rock Processing is driving manufacturing agility.

To keep pace with record equipment orders, vibrating screen and feeder original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Sandvik Rock Processing is driving manufacturing agility at its South African facility. Director Operations for the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) Region, Riaan Steinmann, says the goal of agile manufacturing is to respond quickly to customer and market demands, while maintaining production output and quality.

“We have recorded a solid growth in the past three years in our screens product range. As a result, Sandvik Rock Processing Solutions South Africa is now well positioned as one of the leading vibrating equipment suppliers not only in South Africa, but in Africa at large,” says Steinmann. “We have also made strong inroads in other regions such as Europe and the Middle East.”

In fact, Sandvik Rock Processing South Africa’s exports have increased significantly with numerous screens being shipped across the African continent and internationally. A case in point is the recently completed order to supply over 72 screens and associated equipment to a large copper mining operation in Central Asia.

To meet this rising demand for its equipment, which has seen Sandvik Rock Processing South Africa producing about 60 machines a month in recent times, the company is driving agility within its manufacturing environment. Being agile has allowed the company to easily adapt to changing market conditions and meet or even exceed customer expectations.

“On the back of the significant growth of our screening offering in recent years, we have seen the need to continuously review and optimise our internal processes,” says Steinmann. “For example, our workshop layouts are based on job-shop lean manufacturing processes to cater for any customised components. We make use of in-house designed precision engineered jigs and fixtures to increase our production efficiencies and at the same time secure quality of these components.”

To further drive agility, Sandvik Rock Processing has adopted a strategic outsourcing programme for non-core components to alleviate pressure on its own manufacturing facilities and help ensure timeous customer deliveries. Some of the non-core components being outsourced to carefully selected service providers include cleats, bearing covers, gearbox shafts and housings, amongst others.

“We work closely with these suppliers, most of whom are within a 10 km radius of our Spartan manufacturing facilities. While we conduct regular quality inspections at their facilities, most of them have worked with us for many years and now have a strong understanding of our quality standards,” says Steinmann. “We also hold significant stock of various critical components to make sure our customers get the best availability and service.”

What makes the Sandvik Rock Processing South Africa manufacturing team even more agile is that the production and engineering teams work in close collaboration with each other to swiftly resolve any design and manufacturing discrepancies that might occur during manufacturing.

“Over time, our production and engineering teams have developed strict in-house quality standards which include, but are not limited to, welding procedures, fastening sequences, torquing of bolts, levelling, sequence of assembling subcomponents, shot blasting and paint specifications,” explains Steinmann.

In addition, Sandvik Rock Processing invests in its people to ensure its employees are trained to adopt an agile mindset. This allows them to meet the company’s evolving production needs at any time, whilst ensuring maximum productivity and efficiency.

“Upskilling our people allows us to build on our competence and stay ahead of industry needs,” says Steinmann. “We have an above average percentage of highly skilled and qualified staff, including boilermakers, artisans, certified welders and engineers. Having the right skills, however, is one thing, but being able to retain them is quite another. A positive working culture has been instrumental to our low staff turnover rate and a good retainment of skills.”

The impact of the current energy crisis in South Africa has been detrimental to local manufacturers, says Steinmann. The current fragmented factory operations, which are situated at different locations, make it a bit challenging to install backup generation capacity.

“We have, however, invited local suppliers to tender for the supply of alternative power supply sources for all our workshops. This will require a significant investment, but on the upside it will help ensure we continue to be the same reliable and agile supplier we have always been to our customers,” he says.

Sandvik Rock Processing Solutions, which includes the Kwatani screen products, the Schenck Process Mining screens and Sandvik’s original screening products, is well positioned to become the leading screening solutions provider with global best manufacturing practices in place. In addition, the company has a well-established global distribution and service network.

“Our facility is set to become the global engineering and manufacturing base for vibrating equipment for both local and international customers who are looking for quality cost effective screening solutions that will enable them to achieve the total lowest cost of ownership,” concludes Steinmann.


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