At just over 25% complete, it’s a project that clearly demonstrates how forward-thinking leadership, sustainable technology, and strategic partnerships can be used to create value internally and for customers alike.
Over the past four decades, the Scamont Group has emerged as an engineering powerhouse in Southern Africa, recognised for its passion for bringing the latest innovations to open pit and underground mines. The business has just concluded the first phase of an intensive foundry optimisation project, in partnership with ChemSystems Foundry Division.
Scamont COO and Director of Engineering, Richard Buckley shares the rationale behind the project and how it has tackled some of the challenges facing the industry.
A dynamic business is a responsive one
When the Scamont Group acquired Grifo Engineering in 2013 it was a natural progression for the business. The inclusion of the Grifo Foundry in the sale helped reaffirm Scamont’s commitment to its core business as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). At the same time, it sparked an interesting chain of events.
“Our traditional offering has always been deep level mining pump solutions. But massive declines precipitated by global economic conditions as well as local mining challenges prompted us to explore other sustainable prospects for the business,” explains Buckley.
Scamont soon expanded its install base to include other geographic locations. The company also opted to supply high quality castings to manufacturers offering solutions across a broader range of industries.
Meanwhile, a sharp decline in the South African foundry industry introduced further risk to another critical success factor for the business – the reliability of the supply of cast components to the manufacturing divisions.
These factors all placed additional pressure on the newly acquired foundry.
Scamont’s core business is an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of deep level mining pump solutions
“At the time, the foundry was producing on average 12.5 tons of castings a month. We needed a significant increase in throughput if we wanted to meet Scamont’s growing demand from both manufacturing divisions and still support new business going forward,” says Buckley.
The management team defined clear objectives to optimise the foundry’s production process. The goal? To enable horizontal integration of its supply chain and ultimately offer specialist services that capitalise on the jobs other foundries shy away from.
“We recognised that with the right capabilities we could position ourselves as a niche foundry and attract projects others might see as too physically demanding, too intricate, or required foreign alloys or non-standard formulations,” elaborated Buckley.
Moving forward through optimisation
Scamont was very specific about defining the project as an opportunity for optimisation as opposed to an upgrade. The intention was not to increase melting capacity but rather to increase output through a combination of enhanced material handling methods, better sand reclamation equipment, better air emission control measures, and optimised work flows.
The company has opted to supply high quality castings to manufacturers, offering solutions across a broader range of industries
Phase One kicked off in 2017 with the procurement of a new 3ton/hr Sinto Endeco Omega sand reclamation plant. This primary reclamation plant included a GV3 gammavator, G3 cooler classifier, and PV3 pneumatic conveyer with dust extracting systems.
In addition, the entire foundry layout was optimised to facilitate better workflows and to utilise the available space more efficiently. This resulted in the construction of a new pattern shop, pattern stores, and the inclusion of a previously unused area of the building to house the reclamation equipment.
By mid-2018, a new shot blasting unit was installed and commissioned – complete with abatement equipment, new fettling area, and a new mixing station.
Scamont also considered personnel as a critical part of the equation.
The Sinto Endeco Omega primary reclamation plant includes a GV3 gammavator, G3 cooler classifier, and PV3 pneumatic conveyer with dust extracting systems
“We’ve learnt from experience that objectives are rarely achieved without the right people invested in the process. Where necessary, we recruited several highly skilled and motivated individuals to work alongside the already time-served craftsmen employed in the foundry, which has added important momentum to the project,” said Buckley.
Investing in powerful partnerships
With reclaimed sand quality greatly improved, Scamont was eager to convert from its dated furan-based binder to an alkaline phenolic system. A complex transition, this involved changes to a process that had been in place for more than 30 years. The search began for a partner with the relevant experience, technical capability, and change management support required to manage the change over both within the foundry and in the mindsets of its employees. The search ended with ChemSystems, a division of AECI.
Scamont have converted from a dated furan-based binder to an alkaline phenolic system with the help of ChemSystems Foundry Division
“When it comes to understanding and resolving casting challenges, particularly under local conditions, few can match ChemSystems’ impressive 140-year tenure. As a business, it regularly collaborates with customers on their production systems, finding solutions that work for them and give them the edge over competitors,” said Buckley.
“Many of the challenges our customers experience are things we’ve come across in one form or another. We have a wealth of experience in trouble shooting and problem solving, with extensive technical skills and the product range to support them – both through ChemSystems and our partners ASK Chemicals in Germany,” affirmed Jacques Swanepoel, Sales Manager at ChemSystems Foundry Division.
“Seeing our customers grow and the new directions they want to take is really exciting for us technically and is where we see our expertise and ability to innovate really adding value to the industry. The Scamont project is a perfect example,” said Swanepoel.
Scamont have procured a new 3ton/hr Sinto Endeco Omega sand reclamation plant
“This type of transition has been undertaken by only a handful of foundries in South Africa. It’s an intricate process. We worked alongside Scamont for months, since the inception of the sand reclamation project in fact. We were continually assessing, testing, and planning to ensure a smooth transition that mitigated the risks involved and kept any impact to production to a minimum.”
Now complete, the new process supports Scamont’s strategic intent of becoming a niche foundry of choice.
“The beauty of these specialist formulations is the flexibility they provide. Scamont can customise its jobbing according to customer requirements and can scale as needed for some of its more physically demanding casts. Novaset 745 in particular is an entirely unique product,” explained Swanepoel.
“A one-of-a-kind potassium-based alkaline phenolic binder system that keeps mould moisture levels at a minimum. This, with our tailor-made catalysts, makes it an ideal binder system for stainless steel casting.”
With just 25 per cent of the overall optimisation project complete, the Scamont foundry has more than tripled its throughput to 41 tons of final cast product per month. That’s without adding staff or extra hours
“For us, ChemSystems brought the entire package. An innovative product, local expertise, world-class technologies, and a sincere commitment to local industry that mirrors our own,” said Buckley.
Benefits that are felt along the value chain
After this first phase of a four-phase project, the returns are clear. Incorporating the supply chain of cast components has delivered important benefits to Scamont Engineering, which ultimately benefits its customers.
“With just 25 per cent of the overall project complete, the foundry has more than tripled its throughput to 41 tons of final cast product per month. That’s without adding staff or extra hours,” confirmed Buckley.
“We’re in an even better position to offer the best-in-class components at competitive prices, giving our end users both upfront and ongoing cost savings. And because we can produce and deliver much quicker than ever before, we have a far more efficient model for our business and can be more responsive to ever-changing market conditions.”
“Optimising our resin and reclamation processes improved our sand quality significantly. This translates directly into lower sand disposal costs and a reduced defect rate. It also enabled us to introduce and improve Scamont’s stainless steel castings offering to the market. With stainless steel currently comprising around five per cent of our current output, this is an area we are keen to focus on during the remaining phases,” continued Buckley.
The entire foundry layout at Scamont was optimised to facilitate better workflows and to utilise the available space more efficiently. This resulted in the construction of a new pattern shop, pattern stores, and the inclusion of a previously unused area of the building to house the existing and recently procured reclamation equipment
‘We’re impressed with the foundation this has created for us. It’s allowed us to embark on several new research and development projects all leveraging the foundry and each as a direct result of the foundry optimisation project.”
“Scamont already manufactures close to 100 per cent of its products in-house, barring a few that are outsourced, specialised processes. Coupled with the fact that we back these up with readily available spares, repair capability, and strong technical support means that we are head and shoulders above the competition – and that gap is growing – we think,” said Buckley.
When the final phase is completed towards the end of 2019, it will be interesting to see how much further this proudly South African manufacturer of world-class equipment will have evolved.