Since launching a local service unit in South Africa dedicated to providing on-site services for rotary kilns and two-pier vessels in the sub-Saharan minerals and cement markets two years ago, FLSmidth has established a far-reaching list of references throughout the region.

Services available from the South African base include troubleshooting and root cause analysis, comprehensive hot kiln alignment, in-situ grinding of tyres, support rollers and thrust rollers, installation, maintenance and repair work and technical guidance and support on FLSmidth and non-FLSmidth equipment.

These services incorporate FLSmidth’s new proprietary ‘One Theodolite Solution’ of kiln alignment that enables measurement of the kiln axis in a quick and flexible way.

This method ensures that the kiln axis is measured with high accuracy and repeatable reliability. The alignment method is based on advanced measuring techniques and customised hardware and software. The measurement results are evaluated by experienced alignment specialists with all data collected during normal operation of the kiln, so production not interrupted.

Kiln failures

Most kiln failures derive from four root causes: kiln axis, shell ovality or shell flex or crank and axial balance. Thus, in addition to evaluating the root causes of any obvious symptoms, during a comprehensive hot kiln alignment, FLSmidth technicians also consider kiln drive evaluation, perform a visual mechanical inspection and conduct an engineering study.

Before the local kiln alignment team was deployed, kiln work in the sub-Sahara region was predominantly handled by FLSmidth in Denmark. “Local service units are now being set up all over the world to position a variety of our services closer to our customers. Having a South African team focused on rotary kilns and two-pier vessels has enabled us to offer customers in our region faster response times, lower travel costs and a local contact to call on when required,” says Rob Fellows, FLSmidth service technician.

Comprehensive hot kiln alignment ensures that rotary kilns are able to achieve maximum efficiency throughout their service lives and help customers avoid unforeseen breakdowns. The objective is to maintain optimum kiln performance and maximum production. FLSmidth’s services in this arena draw from the 2011 acquisition of Phillips Kiln Services, a world leading US-based service provider specialising in the installation, maintenance, reconditioning and repair of kilns and related equipment from all manufacturers. Its full range of mechanical services, significant geographical footprint and unique network of specialists provided a valuable addition to FLSmidth’s ability to support customers worldwide.

Across the region

Additional focus and investment in recent times has allowed FLSmidth’s South African kiln service department to grow this offering to a whole new level and market of customers across the region, which are recognising that the department is able to deliver a reliable package of assistance and technical support.

When FLSmidth conducts in-situ grinding of tyres and support rollers, no kiln downtime is needed and the company uses only internationally trained FLSmidth grinding engineers to do the work. The grinding engineers constantly monitor axial thrust of the kiln and bearing temperature throughout the grinding process, carrying out roller adjustments where required to stabilise axial movement and temperature.

“From our local base, we are capable of performing all types of kiln component replacement, repair and installation, underpinned by the appropriate manpower and technical expertise, with complete project planning capabilities,” Fellows explains. “When diagnosing a customer’s kiln or planning a project, we greatly value the input of the client’s maintenance personnel and we like to work closely with them to achieve the best possible results. Continued dialogue of this kind strengthens the client and engineer relationship and often helps to increase the competency levels of the client’s technical personnel.”

Support from Denmark, US

The South African team is supported by FLSmidth kiln design and analysis engineers in Denmark and America providing access to all expert information regarding FLSmidth equipment, supporting analysis and design of non-FLSmidth equipment. Some of our current work includes a cooler replacement at a paper manufacturing plant and a cooler upgrade at a cement plant.

Fellows adds that “FLSmidth is set apart in the marketplace by its technical ability in FLSmidth and non-FLSmidth equipment, swift response times and global network of support and decades of experience in rotary equipment that provides our clients with guaranteed results.” He says this highly competent team will continue to grow in manpower and equipment, steadily expanding its footprint and customer support abilities throughout the sub-Saharan region.

In March this year, FLSmidth held its first three-day workshop on mechanical maintenance of rotary kilns and dryers aimed at regional clients in the cement and mineral sectors. The programme included a theory section presented in a conference environment, followed by a visit to FLSmidth’s Supercentre in Delmas for a first-hand view of the facility’s technical capabilities in the realm of kiln work. An alternative option to the venue-based event involved onsite training at the client’s plant by the FLSmidth kiln team, where operation-specific questions were incorporated into the training programme.

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