Optimising customers’ production and maximising their return on investment is the ongoing mission of the well-resourced FLSmidth’s warehousing facility in Stormill, west of Johannesburg.
This article was first published in Mining Review Africa, Dec 2021
According to Derek Lane, operations manager at FLSmidth, continued investment in the facility over the past decade has kept it at the leading edge of customer service. Today, it has grown to 10,500 m2 under roof and 1,660 m2 under crane, with dual lifting capacity of up to 40 tonnes.
“We have technical capability across FLSmidth’s range of KREBS® slurry pumps, cyclones and valves, allowing us to service customers through sub-Saharan Africa and into the Middle East.”
Meeting customer needs is paramount, and the operation has a strong focus on stocking strategic parts to facilitate the rapid assembly of new product. In addition to this, and central to the pump operation, is also the efficient refurbishment and retrofitting of equipment. Supporting the customer drive for lowest total cost of ownership, the Stormill facility also stocks a range of service exchange units assisting mines to maintain uptime.
Strategic stocking is done on the full range of KREBS pumps from the UMD™ heavy duty, millMAX™, split casing slurryMAX™, gravelMAX™ and vMAX™ range, all of which feature a recessed impeller design allowing the pumps to run dry. In addition, Technequip™ valves are stocked in a variety of sizes, both flanged and wafer type.
“Our workshop and warehousing capacity equip us to respond quickly to customers in various regions of Africa and beyond. This is critical in helping maintain their operational uptime while keeping costs down.”
“The service component in these trials includes a dedicated service technician who visits site for checking and fine-tuning during the trial. This level of technical on-site collaboration from our teams allows operational parameters to be closely monitored and refinements made to specific performance requirements.”
An important cornerstone of FLSmidth’s customer support strategy is closely aligned with the operational drive by mines to achieve the lowest operating costs possible. Rieder says that by providing a range of service support options for all new products supplied, the company is able to add value to mine sites.
Within South Africa, service support options include regular visits by service technicians to site, as well as more intensive levels of service in the form of Bespoke maintenance contracts, and field service support teams operating in strategic locations.
“Some customers request a period of commissioning assistance, for example, and we can provide experts on site for as long as the customer requests them,” he says.
Lane highlights the importance of regular and correct maintenance of equipment to minimise lifecycle costs and maximise productivity. To meet this goal, FLSmidth conducts customised training on request for customers. This could be focused on hands-on maintenance staff dealing with essential day-to-day maintenance. It is also available for higher-level staff such plant engineers, on topics such as product selection. The training can even be delivered in different languages, suited to the region.
The large stockholding of spares at Stormill for pumps, cyclones and valves is based on historical and forecasted customer consumption. Key customers also hold strategic consignment stocks at their sites. These are currently located in Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania, as well as with an agent in South Africa’s Northern Cape province.
“This allows us to have the stock as close to the customer as possible, to optimise availability.”
He emphasises that all the Stormill facility’s activity is strictly governed by recognised international standards. The operation is certified with ISO 9001 for quality, ISO 14001 for environmental management and OSHAS 18001 for safety and health.
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