Condition monitoring integral to Sasol minings success

August 31, 2012

Collen Williams, Manager Conditioning Monitoring of Sasol Mining, will
be one of the speakers at this year’s Physical Asset Management
Conference. He will share his knowledge and skills of the condition
monitoring department, which forms an integral part of Sasol Mining’s
predictive and proactive maintenance strategy.

Sasol Mining in South Africa is a division of Sasol Limited, a
petro-chemical business competing in the commodity markets. Sasol Mining
consists of five underground mines, a coal handling facility and a
beneficiation plant situated in the Secunda area and one mine at
Sasolburg. Together the Secunda operations produce and handle 42.25
million tons of coal annually as feedstock to Sasol Synfuels’
coal-to-liquids (CTL) plants, Sasol 2 and Sasol 3. The Sigma Mooikraal
mining operation at Sasolburg produces 2 million tons of coal for use in
the Sasol Chemical Industries plant, Sasol 1. In the CTL plants coal
feedstock is converted into more than 200 different products such as
petrol, diesel, tar, solvents, oils, waxes and many more.

Says Williams: “Functioning on a unique but very effective competency
based structure, our core condition monitoring techniques include
vibration analysis, thermography, electrical circuit analysis,
ultrasound, laser alignment, conveyor belt magnetic scans and video
imaging. Lubrication engineering entails an on-site field oil lab and a
comprehensive Total Fluid Management (TFM) programme implemented at all
the mines and plants.”

Sasol Mining’s integrated predictive maintenance strategy resulted in an
increase in uptime, reduction in secondary damage to components,
increased planned change-outs of equipment, and reduced repair cost.
“Our strategy ensures a safer working environment and subsequent
improved uptime of critical equipment. Important contributing factors to
the successful execution of the predictive maintenance programme
include a passionate condition monitoring team, buy-in from all
stakeholders, a well structured predictive maintenance department,
competency based training enabling employee succession through a
well-defined career ladder, development of and buy-in from original
equipment manufacturers (OEMs), the investigation of critical components
to verify accuracy of analysis and implement corrective actions to
prevent reoccurrences, a higher than 90% success rate to the programme
schedules and recommendations which promotes confidence in the
department and underlines the mutual trust which exists between service
provider and client.”

With regards to safety, Sasol Mining strives to be customer focused and
ensure service excellence, demand sound governance, focus and a positive
attitude towards working safely. “Risk exposure to operators and
specialists taking vibration readings, ultra-sound readings,
thermographic scans and conveyor belt scans is mitigated by ensuring
mining machinery and equipment are well guarded and/or fenced off when
readings are taken. These tasks and activities are often performed in
close proximity of rotating equipment in both underground and plant
environments and is therefore an exceptional achievement that the
condition monitoring department recorded only one minor accident (first
aid case) during the past seven years,” says Williams.

Williams reckons that guarding knowledge is detrimental to the entire
asset care fraternity since research is often repeated, which means the
growth rate of the asset care knowledge base is severely restricted.
Says Williams: “The collective pool of asset care knowledge has matured
sufficiently over the last decade that it’s time to shift focus from
collecting knowledge to executing and expanding the knowledge base.”

Williams has been a manager on the Sasol Mining Predictive Maintenance
department for the past five years. “Understanding the importance of
team dynamics, though individually different, success in this support
department could only be achieved with employees operating as a coherent
unit. Embedding and maintaining the correct condition monitoring
techniques in the company go a long way to enhance performance
reliability. Functioning on a competency-based structure, the results
are delivered through extraordinary human asset management which include
interaction at all levels, thorough training, sound communication,
respect for each other, recognition and empowered employees,” concludes
Williams.

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