Containerised lab brings testing to the customer’s doorstep… or rock face

25 October 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201916656

Chemical & Allied Industries
Engineering Supplies
Instrumentation, Measurement & Control

THYSSENKRUPP Industrial Solutions South Africa has streamlined its sample testing process with the recent development of a mobile containerised High-Pressure Grinding Roll (HPGR) test unit. It says that by enabling customers to test samples on site, this eliminates the costs, time delays and complex logistics related to the transportation of samples for testing purposes.

According to Process Manager: Minerals Processing Gerhard Van Wyk, the inspiration to create the containerised laboratory came from a customer who required the pre-crushing of uranium ore causing various dilemmas in ore processing, transportation logistics as well as handling of radioactive material.

Taking all these factors into consideration, the company came up with “a game-changing” idea; bring the test laboratory to the customer. The mobile laboratory consists of a semi-pilot scale HPGR fully enclosed in a 20-foot container.

“The HPGR was developed in Germany, but we have adapted the design for manufacturing in South Africa,” Van Wyk said. When installed in the container unit it features a plug-and-play configuration; as the machine is transported as a final assembly and customers only need to supply a main power connection, it is possible to immediately start the machine for production.

Depending on customers’ needs the capabilities of the containerised laboratory include the ability to run single pass tests on numerous different material types. “This would be required to determine the HPGR’s specific performance parameters,” said Van Wyk.

In addition, the lab is also able to process large quantities of sample through the unit, ready for downstream processing. “In fact, our very first unit, which we rolled out to a customer in Africa in Q2 2019, was used for the crushing of a massive 700t sample, bearing testament to the success of our locally adapted design.”

This unit was subsequently returned to the original installation in Thyssenkrupp’s test facility and the first test campaign since its return has already been completed.

Among the benefits of the containerised lab format is the fact the machine is deployed at the rock face at the customer’s mine, which removes the need for sample transportation, boosting uptime and productivity. The company will also configure the machine into the customer flowsheet if required.

“Not only are we responsible for the manufacture of the machine but, given the fact that it remains on the customer’s site for a relatively short period we are also responsible for operation,” said Van Wyk. He added that the company will provide an additional process engineer if the customer requires specialised tests. In the event of longer durations, Thyssenkrupp will train the site personnel and empower them to operate the machine themselves.

The company has already received enquiries from America, Australia and Europe for this solution. Based on the experience gained by operating the unit, Thyssenkrupp plans to develop Container Version 2.0 which will incorporate Industry 4.0 equipment as well as a wide range of upgrades. “We are extremely proud of our in-house developed and manufactured containerised laboratory which sets the sample testing benchmark,” said Philipp Nellessen, Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions CEO, Sub-Sahara Africa. “By continuously tailoring our offerings to meet customers’ needs, we look forward to further assisting them in maximising their productivity potential.”

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