Faced with an increasingly competitive landscape and the need to continually reduce costs, FLSmidth’s tech center for vibrating screen technology, located in Brisbane, Australia, embarked on a product rejuvenation project to stay at the forefront of the industry.
So named the BRX development project, the team’s objective was aimed at designing a screen range of similar or superior quality and reliability as the time-proven and successful BRU™ range of screens, but at significantly lower cost.
The essence of the new BRX product takes the best features from three existing screen technologies within the range and melds them into a new, low-cost product which can be sold in any regional market around the globe.
The background of the three existing designs is as follows:
- BRU – Known as one of the most technically superior screens in the market, the BRU has an over 40-year proven track record and has been sold in 34 countries around the world. However, the product is heavy-duty and therefore can be considered expensive to manufacture.
- IST – Part of an acquisition in 2005, this product is a low-cost, low-technology offering which has had some success in North America and China but was not considered a serious technical competitor to the BRU.
- LVS – Part of a Ludowici development initiative in the early 2000s, this product offered a light-weight screen that was specific to wet screening. This technology was reasonably successful during its introduction but was plagued with reliability issues during the infancy of the product release. Some design features have also made global sourcing difficult.
As a result of the development project, a significant reduction in cost has been achieved through a multitude of direct and indirect measures. This includes standardisation of components, leveraging off 3C sourcing, simplification of design, and optimization of the screen’s components.
Australian engineering manager, Tony Elliott explained that “FLSmidth is recognized as the world leader in the design of vibrating equipment. We want to continue building on that heritage, and by following the development stage-gate model and using a front-end loaded approach, the BRX product was delivered according to the project’s goals. Gordon Ong, chief engineer for screens, successfully led the project and used the groups collective design and manufacturing expertise, advanced FEA techniques and extensive factory testing to ensure a high-quality, reliable product was introduced to the market.”
Some of the resulting key features of the BRX screen range include:
- Standard end-plate drilling on crossbeams, which provides total commonality and allows for an easier way of keeping stock
- Light-weight drive beam and feed box, effectively replacing the highest cost components of the BRU design with smarter technology
- Commonality of components across machine sizes
- Overall reduction in weight means smaller exciters, starting torque and lower operating power are required. This also results in a more energy-efficient machine for its size compared to the BRU product
- Use of SG iron cast exciter casings and exciter mounts: easier sourcing at lower cost
- Longer bearing life in the exciters due to the reduction in machine mass
- Reduction of welding in all fabricated components; less welding means less cost, less requirement for highly skilled labour and reduced chance of welding-related failures
- Large frequency “windows” around screen operating speed; factor of safety increased by three times
- Easily permits changes between screen panel types and material due to large
Although still in its infancy with only three sold to date, the “next generation” BRX screen has already proven itself during site testing, successfully completing a 12-month trial at New Hope Coal in Queensland in November 2014. Product Specialist Dan Pattinson approached New Hope Coal with the suggestion that they test the BRX screen on a 12-month “try and buy” arrangement. As Dan explains, “The customer had an existing BRU screen operating in a wet sizing application which was due for replacement after 11 years of operation. The new BRX design was easily tailored to suit the existing plant location, meaning a seamless installation was possible during a planned three-day production outage. The installation went exactly to plan and featured a zero safety incident record.
Pattinson said, “We carried out regular site inspections over the 12-month trial period and did not need to do anything other than routine maintenance for expected wear and tear. In November 2014, after 12 months of operation, the customer was completely satisfied with the performance of the new screen and paid in full as per the agreement. As of today, the screen continues to operate trouble-free.”
FLSmidth’s Global Product Director of Screens, Eddie McKerr, said, “The driving forces behind the BRX development project were the relative complexity of fabrication, global availability of rolled steel sections and high cost of manufacturing an equivalent-sized BRU screen. The BRU design has evolved over 30-plus years and is recognized as one of the premium vibrating screen designs in the world. It remains the flagship screen in our range. However, in certain markets, such as developing countries where capital cost is more of a focus than reliability, this relatively high cost puts FLSmidth at a significant competitive disadvantage. For these markets we had to come up with a lower cost alternative, and the BRX delivers a substantial cost saving against the BRU screen. This cost saving will give us the flexibility of being able to competitively price-point in specific markets and still make profit."
Five models have been designed to date, which cover the most popular sizes of screens being sold. In the coming months, the range will be expanded to meet market demands.
“Our main sales targets will be China and India, plus we will have a focus on selling the BRX to mid-tier and small mining companies where capital outlay is sensitive,' said McKerr. "The BRX range will strengthen FLSmidth’s position and allow for market share growth in remaining developing markets by introducing a quality screen at a competitive price.”
CONTACT: Eddie McKerr