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Containerised workshop facilitates hydraulic services

19th October 2018

Hydraulics components supplier Hytec Services Africa (HSA), part of hydraulic components supplier Hytec Group, has launched its mine site-based containerised hose workshops to provide a comprehensive on-site hose and fittings service to its mining clients across Africa.

Set up in refurbished and branded shipping containers varying in size from 20 ft to 40 ft, the workshops not only provide hose and fittings services, but also enable Hytec to supply its entire range of hydraulic services on a mine site – effectively functioning as an on-site mobile branch.

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This new mine site services concept is unique to Hytec through the drive and control technologies group Bosch Rexroth expansion drive into Africa. This gives Hytec a distinct advantage over other companies, which generally only offer hose and fitting services.

To provide an on-site end-to-end hydraulic offering, the workshop services include Hytec’s hydraulic cylinder service exchange programme, as well as supplying new or providing services for pumps, filtration systems, drives, valves, piston motors and hydraulic maintenance tools. Additionally, as a value-added benefit, Hytec can control and stock other hydraulic components on request.

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Workshop Design
Depending on the requirements of the mine and the urgency in providing services, Hytec can provide a start-up workshop with stock in short turnaround times to ensure that hose replacement services begin the moment the workshop and stock arrives on the mine site.

All workshops come standard with double side doors, 220 V and 380 V plugs with the plug design matching the destination country requirements; all electrics; strip lighting; air conditioner; extractor fans; and shelving to accommodate about 800 small stock bins and start-up hose stock. Start-up workshops are manufactured and available fully fitted in Johannesburg to ensure quick mobilisation and delivery times.

“The workshop configuration depends on the mine’s requirements,” explains HSA Africa mining services and operations manager Charlie Harrison.

“Mines that require services beyond hydraulic hose and fittings may need additional containers to accommodate filer, pump or cylinder stock. It may also be appropriate to add an office using a 20 ft container. Each container, and the configuration in setting up two or more containers, are custom-designed to each mine’s requirements.”

He points out that, if a Hytec container workshop is based in a country without an established Hytec branch infrastructure, the container itself becomes the Hytec country base. “We ensure that the workshop configuration is sufficiently flexible to accommodate all hydraulic components and services to the mines’ requirements,” says Harrison.

He explains that if the mine is in a remote and inaccessible area like many in East, West and North Africa, the containers and their configuration need to allow for supplementary stockholdings, owing to extended and difficult supply routes.

Start-up hose fittings and adaptors as well as start-up hose stock; crimping and cut-off machines; manual engraver; workbench with vice and stool; hose rack; hose cleaning projectile kit and projectile stock; electric hand grinder; and a 2 × 6 m bolt-on side canopy form the bulk of the container’s standard contents.

“The bolt-on canopy is used to accommodate the hose cut-off machine, which is normally situated outside the container to adhere to most mines’ health and safety regulations,” explains HSA Africa development manager Petrus Viljoen. Additional standard contents include a tool cabinet and workshop tools, storage bins and shelving, measuring instruments, display board and white board with markers. Office furniture with amenities such as a bar fridge are included, as is all signage and a standard fire extinguisher.

Demonstration Units
As the container workshops are premanufactured and setup in Johannesburg, Hytec will keep at least one in stock at its Gauteng facility in Johannesburg’s East Rand. “Generally speaking, in Africa a typical mobilisation period is about three months. By retaining fully equipped mobile workshops at our Johannesburg facility we can easily deliver within that period – often, much more quickly,” says Harrison.

One workshop will remain at Hytec as a demonstration model for potential clients to view and experience, and another located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be used for the same purpose. The latter was the original prototype, which is a fully functional hose and fittings workshop and office that was developed for a Hytec distributor in the DRC. It is ready for mobilisation and until the order is received, it functions as a demonstration unit for potential clients in that country. Later this year, another fully functioning workshop will be set up at the new Takoradi main base, in Ghana, for West Africa.

“The benefits of our containerised workshops are almost quid pro quo for clients and Hytec alike,” says Viljoen. “Being permanently on-site, our personnel is for all intents and purposes, part of the client’s operation, making us first port of call for hydraulic services and equipment. For the client, they have our hydraulic service offering on their doorstep for immediate turnaround and delivery, and we separate our product pricing and our service fees so there are no hidden costs for clients.”

Contractual Obligations
Under normal circumstances, a contract for this type of service and product offering is between two and three years, and this is where the advantage of having a ‘mobile’ workshop becomes apparent. “If a contract is not renewed, it is relatively easy to pack up and pick up the container for relocation to another mine site, which can be done fairly quickly,” explains Harrison.

Owing to the simplistic nature of relocating the ‘on-site mobile branch’ Harrison and Viljoen share the view that, in some instances, a contract may not be necessary. “We will provide the mine with any of their requirements within this specific service offering,” Viljoen notes. He adds that when the company’s services are no longer needed, it would be the same as when a contract had drawn to conclusion. “Essentially, it is a win-win for both parties.”

Hytec has already submitted a containerised workshop tender to a mining house in the DRC, with tenders for the same under way with mining houses in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Ghana.

“Through the Bosch Rexroth Africa expansion initiative, full Hytec branch operations have been opened in East Africa Kenya, West Africa Ghana and we are working with Bosch Rexroth Morocco, which also covers Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt. This new mine site services concept will be developed in conjunction with all the Hytec operations in Africa,” concludes Harrison. 

EDITED BY: Zandile Mavuso Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features
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