Building resilience into its local manufacturing capability

Conveyor belt cleaning equipment designer and manufacturer Brelko Conveyor Products has matured into a turnkey transfer point spillage-control solutions provider throughout its 33 years of business. The company has shown remarkable resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, which MD and co-founder KENNY PADAYACHEE attributes to the company’s strong history of innovation, characterised by continual technology adoption, digital transformation, product research and development and the maintenance and expansion of its world-class Johannesburg-based head office and manufacturing facility.

As a proudly South African company and Level 1 broad-based black economic empowerment contributor, Brelko has fully-embraced local manufacturing for the past eight years. Its range of premium, niche transfer point spillage control solutions are fully manufactured in-house – from majority locally-procured raw material, right through to final product. Brelko’s range of products are also complemented by technical and aftersales support, completing the company’s turnkey service offering.

Often overlooked upon delivery of a final product is the innovation and technology that is applied during the manufacturing process. At Brelko, its manufacturing methodology ensures ‘ultimate product performance’ using the latest software and machinery that is energy efficient and environment-friendly with little to no waste of raw materials to ensure that its capable of designing, manufacturing and successfully distributing and maintaining the company’s ever-evolving product range.

To this end, Brelko’s modern manufacturing facility features cutting-edge technology including CNC machining, automated polyurethane dispensing, robotic welding as well as soon to be installed and commissioned robotic gluing and automated spray-painting systems. “It is this adoption of modern technology and machinery that enables Brelko to improve its efficiency, accuracy and productivity, which its customers have come to enjoy,” says Padayachee.

While the notion of automation is associated with a reduction in labour, Padayachee says that Brelko has not retrenched personnel. Brelko is instead expanding its in-house manufacturing capability. “This will enable us to handle some of the manufacturing tasks that we currently outsource to local suppliers and service providers, such as powder-coating,” he notes.

The company has used the time afforded to it during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant economic and industrial slowdown, to build additional resilience into its business and to future-proof its business for when the economy and mining market pick up. “We have proactively used this time to focus on building capacity for the future, by expanding our manufacturing facility,” says Padayachee.

In doing so, Brelko is in the final stages of completing the construction of its ‘Erf 1’ property located at 65 Beaumont Street, which adjoins its current head office and manufacturing facility. This new facility will have 6 000 m2 of under-roof workable floor space. The current despatch and warehousing facility will be relocated to Erf 1, which will also be home to the relocated palletising facility as well as provide additional office and storage space. Erf 1 also features garage space, which will house the company’s delivery vehicle fleet.

The existing despatch, warehousing and palletising facility will become the future polyurethane plant, Padayachee explains, noting that the existing manufacturing facility layout will also be redesigned to ensure improved work flow within the production line.

Four major contracts underway

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Africa’s mining sector, which had led to the temporary shutdown of some operations, Brelko has been awarded and is in the process of fulfilling contracts at major African mining and industrial projects.

In South Africa, Brelko has been awarded a four-year maintenance contract at JSE-listed diversified miner Exxaro’s Grootegeluk coal mine near Lephalale in the Limpopo Province. The maintenance contract covers 240 conveyor belts and includes a turnkey product supply and maintenance contract. The fitment of Brelko’s conveyor belt poly rollers enabled the operation to increase the amount of coal that it moved from 800 tpd to 3 000 tpd.

Meanwhile, at State-owned power utility Eskom’s Kendal power station in Mpumalanga, Brelko has been awarded a contract to specify its complete range of products, which includes primary and secondary belt scrapers, V-Ploughs, Keyskirt, Hi-Impact systems and troughing and return Belt Tracking systems for use on approximately 22 ash conveyor belts at the Kendal ash plant. Manufacture of the products began March and the equipment was delivered to site mid-July.

The company also received an order from minerals sands producer and beneficiation company Richards Bay Minerals for the supply of conveyor belt cleaning equipment for 100 of its titanium dioxide handling conveyor belts.

Moreover, across the border in central Africa, Brelko has been awarded a contract for Ivanhoe Mine’s giant Kamoa-Kukula copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it will be supplying conveyor belt scrapers and its Keyskirt products to the mine, which is currently under development. The delivery, which was delayed due to border closure, is scheduled for August.

Brelko plans to maintain and further grow its already impressive foothold in the SADC region. The company has over time made inroads into the DRC, Egypt and Zambia.

As African countries develop, we will continue to expand and grow as new opportunities arise, says Padayachee, while cultivating and sustaining our already strong business in South Africa and the SADC region.


Brelko has committed considerable resources to research and development towards refining its product offering with the sole purpose of producing products that require little to no maintenance and are not reliant on large windows of scheduled maintenance.

The latest product under development – a self-adjusting belt scraper – that self-adjusts according to the amount of wear on the primary and secondary scraper blades, has already undergone three years of research and development and is currently at prototype stage. Once field-tested, the self-adjusting belt scraper will be ready for commercial production.

This will ensure improved efficiency and productivity as the conveyor belt scraper will be able to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The efficiency and productivity gains as a result of this new product could be substantial, particularly for companies operating in remote areas or at operations requiring continuous and uninterrupted production.

Special Report – Cover Story
By Chantelle Kotze – Mining Review Africa – August 2020

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