Innovation doesn’t stop. Instead, it is constantly evolving to produce more technologically advanced and safer mining equipment. This is the view of KENNY PADAYACHEE, MD of Brelko Conveyor Products, a company where R&D underpins its success. GERARD PETER reports.

For more than 35 years, Brelko has been designing and manufacturing conveyor belt cleaning equipment for the mining industry. This includes belt scrapers, ploughs and trackers as well as chute sealing systems. All products are backed by a comprehensive installation and maintenance package.

Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, today the company’s operations span the length of the globe with a large footprint in Africa where it is represented by agents. It keeps a large stock holding which can be readily despatched upon request, thereby obviating lengthy waiting periods for equipment to be delivered. In order to keep up with its growth trajectory, its 16 500 m² manufacturing and distribution facility is currently being expanded.

Padayachee prides himself on the fact that all products are 100% locally produced – from sourcing of raw material right through to the finished product. “This approach has enabled us to provide employment opportunities for 220 people, with 70% of our workforce comprising local employees,” he adds.

Padayachee himself is fully immersed in the day-to-day operations and has created a people orientated culture, one which has allowed new ideas to flow and has resulted in better products coming off its manufacturing lines. “People solve problems and it is people who create the technology. That is why it is imperative that we create an environment that allows our staff to continuously enhance the performance of our products.”

In keeping with this philosophy, Brelko has a dedicated R&D department that uses the latest software such as Syspro and AutoCad to develop new products as well as upgrade existing ones. In addition, the department also looks at ways in which the manufacturing process can be further streamlined.

Interestingly, while COVID-19 derailed many businesses, Brelko used the time to conduct further R&D. “Over a period of 18 months, each manager was given a project to develop a new product or to improve on existing ones,” Padayachee states.

Enhancing conveyor belt safety

One product that was introduced during this time is the Nip Guard safety device. With the purpose to improve worker safety while working on conveyor belts, the Nip Guard was designed to prevent unnecessary injuries that are known to happen around pulley nip points and pinch point hazards.

Nip Guards are fixed to the pulley supports or inside the head pulley and tail pulley chutes to ensure that there is no varying distance between the guards and the pulley. Due to the Nip Guard’s design, this distance remains constant even when the belt is tensioned.

To further enhance its product offering, Brelko has a training facility where employees and its African agents are educated on equipment best practice as well as customer service. “At the end of the day we are in the service industry and we will be judged by our service levels. That is why we also place a great emphasis on customer service,” Padayachee concludes.

Mining Review Africa
By Gerard Peter – AUGUST 2022

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