64 level Koepe winder refurbishment

AngloGold Ashanti's TauTona operation offered FLSmidth the opportunity to refurbish and install a Koepe winder at the 64 level of the mine shaft. This was a unique opportunity as this project entailed the complete manufacture of a new Koepe winder, which was booked through our Material Handling division and executed by our Customer Services division.

The project began on July 30, 2012 and kicked off with a bang as the timing was tight and the pressure was on. FLSmidth’s first objective was to establish what was currently on site in order to aid the design process. This included the majority of the team going on site to take measurements and inspect the bearings required.

Once the engineering design was completed, the race was on to place the relevant orders to the most suitable suppliers for the manufacture of the goods. The contracts and procurement departments worked well on this, and there was overall agreement that the main focus points for all the products would be quality, time and cost—the three pillars of project management.

Once the orders were placed, the expediting team began to emphasize the urgency of the completion of these orders without compromising quality. The result of this fast-paced and efficient teamwork resulted in all the items being delivered to site by the end of December (except the winder drum and shaft, which were scheduled to be completed by the end of February).

As with most projects, things did not go as planned and the shaft that was being manufactured was damaged significantly. The unit had been completed, but when the factory lifted a larger shaft and moved it over ours, the larger shaft fell. This incident seemed catastrophic, as it happened a week before the shaft was scheduled to be air-freighted to South Africa and with only a month before the delivery to the mine.

The shaft was scrapped due to the damage, which dramatically impacted the entire project as everything would grind to a sudden halt until the shaft could be delivered to South Africa which would take about three months of manufacture and two weeks to be delivered to a supplier in South Africa.

The project manager had a difficult phone call to make to discuss the situation with the mining engineer, but this project had another unexpected twist. The mine decided to postpone the installation phase and to reschedule the installation during the December 2013 maintenance break.

This news came at a great time, and the scrapped shaft delay had no impact on the project. The relief was tangible to say the least.

In order to save time during the installation, the hydraulic and electrical systems were installed and commissioned to run concurrent with the existing system. This saved about 5–7 days for the total installation.

About a month before the delivery of the final components to site, the installation team went with the project manager to the site in order to establish whether all components were on site and taken down to 64 level. The reason for this was that most suppliers would be closed during the installation period, and as such we needed to reduce as much risk as possible. Coupled with reducing the risk through inventory control, we also had a machine shop and on-site machining services on standby just in case any situations arose.

With everything in order, the installation period began on the night of December 24, 2013 after the ropes were removed from the drum.

The installation was completed in 24-hour shifts (12-12) over the space of 10 days.

The main obstacle to installation was the logistics of removing the old drum and transporting the new drum into position. FLSmidth anticipated this, and the new drums were delivered underground and strategically positioned to allow for easier installation. The old winder drum was cut into smaller pieces to be removed. FLSmidth worked closely with the mine’s logistics so that there was no delay. Efficiency of the operation was on the forefront of our minds.

The installation was completed smoothly on January 5, 2014. When following up with the client, they commented that they were happy and even impressed with the winder, which fully met their expectations. The newly installed winder reduced the safety risks at the mine, and the reliability and availability of spares has added to the value of the operation of the mine.

The success of this project can be attributed to the participation of all of the involved individuals, including the installation managers (Nisharl Maharaj and Hans Steyn). The various FLSmidth departments worked harmoniously with one another, and the results speak for themselves.

CONTACT: Wesley-Mark Jonsson