AfriSam uses Technical Assessment as a vital management tool

For AfriSam, South Africa’s leading suppliers of cement, aggregate and readymix concrete to the building and construction industries, the regular technical assessment of its equipment has become an operational necessity.

AfriSam Construction Materials National Engineering Manager, Theolan Govender, explains the background to this key management philosophy and the scientific way it is applied in practice.

“We manage a large and complex production and distribution network nationwide. To give you an idea of the scale in Construction Materials, we currently produce ready mix from 40 plants nationally and mine aggregate at 16 of our quarries, six in KwaZulu Natal, two in Cape Town and seven around in Gauteng one in Mpumalanga. A massive amount of equipment is needed to be maintained on these sites and we currently operate a crusher fleet of approximately 100 units.”

The construction industry works in an intensely competitive environment and the ability to deliver on time is a key factor. Theolan, with support from General Manager Aggregates, Glenn Johnson, implemented an effective maintenance strategy to ensure that the company’s equipment would, through a series of planned interventions, always be able to meet market demands.

“We developed and implemented a strategy that would allow a mutual benefit relationship with our suppliers and hold accountability between the parties through the correct channels in order to achieve effective equipment uptime. We believe that by working with the Original Equipment Manufacturers, it would effectively develop a cohesive relationship, bringing and maintaining the correct skills and knowledge into the industry in order to improve equipment uptime. We engaged with our major equipment providers and explained what we needed from them in terms of skills, support and spares inventory planning We had to gain a real-time understanding of the condition of our equipment and be able to forecast with accuracy our future maintenance and replacement needs.”

Theolan believes that the key element of this type of endeavour is relationships and by that he means rapport between the manufacturer’s technical and service personnel and AfriSam personnel on-site.

The cooperation that exists between AfriSam and Pilot Crushtec International creates synergies illustrated by the fact that when the customer explained his needs his supplier already had the solution in the form of the Technical Analysis Report (TAR). Literally from that moment onwards every AfriSam crusher has undergone an annual strip down and check up with detailed descriptions of preventative measures to be taken, which are acted upon implicitly.

The Engineering department at AfriSam Construction Materials has also been proactive and has collated data gathered from reports into a ‘heat map’ status report which provides an ‘at a glance’ picture of the operational readiness of every crusher in the fleet. Through the outcomes of the technical assessment process, the crusher condition per assembly, thus overall condition, are plotted against a Probability and Impact risk matrix. This allows the business to plan and mitigate effectively the troublesome areas.

Not only has the TAR assisted Theolan and his team to meet production expectations but benefits have also been appreciated downstream. Planned maintenance eases out spikes in the department workload while the accountants have quality information to assist capex budgets and forecasting.

“Pilot Crushtec International has supported the process well by providing the necessary after sales support and skills to resolve issues timeously. In addition, everyone operates with an open-door policy beginning with CEO Sandro Scherf,” says Theolan.