Key supplier TAKRAF Africa ends 2018 maintaining its long-held position as a leading materials handling specialist servicing the African continent – a reputation it established some 100 years ago through its heritage as a Bateman company until being acquired by Tenova in 2012. It now forms an integral part of the globally renowned TAKRAF group.

TAKRAF Africa ends 2018 on a high note

Kusile materials handling project.

“We saw demand in 2018 from across a wide spectrum of sectors, ranging from our mainstay, mining and coal power, to ports and terminals and various industrial businesses, including cellulose, sunflower seeds and cement,” says Richard Späth, TAKRAF Africa General Manager – Technologies. “While we have extensive track records in industries such as cement, recent years have been quiet and it was encouraging to see the renewed demand.”

Iron ore

In October 2018, TAKRAF Africa unloaded a dual-wagon rotary tippler at the Port of Saldanha on the west coast of South Africa for transport to site at a major iron ore project.

“This has required detailed planning, from embarkation in China to the brownfield site where the infrastructure needs to be carefully negotiated in moving the 22 m long and 10 m wide tippler,” notes Späth.

The contract, placed with TAKRAF Africa in 2016, covered supply of a dual-wagon tippler, complete with positioner and ancillary equipment, including hoppers, TAKRAF apron feeders and apron feeder support platform, as well as a 98 m3/h reverse pulse bag filter type dust extraction system. With unloading rates in excess of 100 wagons per hour, the tippler has the ability to tip two wagons simultaneously.

“The project has drawn upon the global expertise of the TAKRAF group, with design of the advanced dual-wagon tippler being carried out in partnership with Ashton Bulk of the United Kingdom.

“TAKRAF is a global leader in the supply of wagon unloading systems, with a recent major tippler project also in Guinea,” adds Späth.

In line with TAKRAF Africa’s ‘best country’ sourcing policy, the tippler was manufactured in China, with TAKRAF and Ashton Bulk engineers from South Africa, Germany and the United Kingdom on hand, together with the client, for quality assurance prior to shipping of the tippler. All ancillary equipment was manufactured locally.

Coal-fired power

Ongoing demand from this sector in 2018 saw TAKRAF Africa make good progress on a fast track conveyor project for a coal-fired power station’s tippler extraction system. In addition, the Eskom Kusile project in Mpumalanga, South Africa, is progressing ahead of schedule.

“The flagship Kusile project has given us the opportunity to showcase not only our technical and project management ability to handle mega and complex material handling contracts, but also our unwavering commitment to safety and the environment,” says Späth.

The multibillion-rand project was awarded in 2010 covering the stockyard, limestone and terrace handling systems, with a fourth, the coal truck unloading system, awarded in 2017. The combined project scope of these packages covers plant conveyors, stockyard, stacking and reclaiming machines, civil works, and electrical and instrumentation (E&I) work. The packages include installation of 14 machines and 79 conveyors, which in total handle material over a distance of 16 km, with the largest capacity conveyor rated at 4 000 t/h, operating at a speed of 3,7 m/s. Approximately 8 000 t of structural steel is being employed, excluding that for the scraper/reclaimers.

TAKRAF Africa has completed the stockyard and limestone material handling systems and is well advanced with the terrace package, having taken access within the fourth and fifth boiler units.

The impressive safety performance on Kusile includes records of more than 2 million LTI (Lost-Time Injury) free hours being achieved, in many cases during complex and high-risk stages of the project.

General industry

Two material handling contracts were received from a leading South African cement producer for the supply of clinker handling systems.

The projects cover, respectively, material handling for the loading of clinker onto rail and road transport systems from a silo at a facility in North West Province and, through the second contract, material handling for the rail unloading side at a clinker storage facility in the Eastern Cape. Both systems need to be tied into existing facilities during limited shut down periods to avoid production disruptions.

In a third contract for the same cement producer, TAKRAF Africa is supplying the material handling system for a fly ash classification plant in Mpumalanga. Interestingly, the material handling systems on all three projects are being equipped with TAKRAF dust extraction systems to reduce dust levels to within regulatory limits.

In other work for the industrial sector, TAKRAF Africa is supplying the complete woodchip conveying package as part of an expansion to a cellulose production facility in KwaZulu-Natal. This fast-track contract has called for the project to be completed within 11 months from order placement to commissioning and involves 1 600 tons of steelwork.

“These contracts make use of TAKRAF Africa’s wide product range, integrated into one seamless package. Both belt and Redler conveyors are being utilised on the woodchip conveying and clinker unloading systems, while the clinker loading contract in North West Province also features TAKRAF loading station technology.”


“Without a doubt,” says Späth, “TAKRAF’s culture of innovation is a strategic differentiator, evident across all our projects – across all sectors and across the globe.”

In Chile for example, TAKRAF’s innovative belt conveyor technology is being applied in a 10 000 t/h ore transportation system at a massive underground mining complex in order to overcome a number of technical challenges, such as significant elevation change from the underground mine to the surface. The conveyor system features advanced gearless drive technology, with the uphill tunnel conveyors boasting the highest drive power ever to be installed on a belt conveyor.

In 2018, TAKRAF Africa’s commitment to technology development was highlighted in the supply of six new-design Redler chain conveyors to the Willowton Group’s factory in Isando, South Africa. The new conveyors, designed in-house by TAKRAF Africa, are a breakthrough development for the FMCG market, combining the proven Redler brand with a lighter, more cost-effective design of the casing.

Such technology advances are also applied to TAKRAF Africa’s comprehensive client support, which covers services ranging from spares to maintenance and refurbishments. “The refurbishment in 2017 of a TAKRAF bucket-wheel reclaimer that featured a new design bucket-wheel has generated considerable interest this past year,” notes Späth. “The new design consists of three bolted segments to provide the maintenance crew the option to remove the bucket-wheel without stripping the complete shaft assembly.”

Giving back

For TAKRAF Africa, empowering and uplifting local communities and economies is a philosophy – a way of doing business that is carried out through all its projects within and beyond the borders of South Africa.

The company’s Corporate Social Investment (CSI) initiatives range from small enterprise and supplier development through to skills development and philanthropic initiatives. In partnership with Eskom, for example, considerable investment has been made in upskilling a mainly local workforce on the Kusile project, while TAKRAF Africa also assisted five black-owned co-operatives with start-up funding. Full bursaries have been awarded to 20 undergraduate students and learnerships awarded to six people, four of whom are living with disabilities. In addition, various philanthropic activities have included sponsorship of events for the elderly to supplying a water tank to a district hospital.

“Where possible, we carry out CSI initiatives in partnership with our clients,” says Späth, “as it is only by ‘joining hands’ that we will be able to make a truly meaningful impact on the social and economic transformation of the communities in which we operate.”

Way ahead

In 2019, TAKRAF Africa celebrates a milestone in its history of serving Sub-Saharan Africa, as it marks 100 years since the founder of the TAKRAF Africa heritage, Edward L. Bateman, assumed control of the Allis-Chalmers agency in South Africa. Today, trading as TAKRAF Africa, much of the company’s order book is repeat business, with business relationships stretching well back into the past century.

“For example, as far back as the 1980s we were working with clients such as Eskom and Willowton Group,” notes Späth. “Such longevity gives our clients peace of mind that we will be around to support their installations over their complete product lifecycle.”

With an extensive reference list of innovations to build on, TAKRAF Africa is looking for new opportunities in 2019. “We are well positioned to address demand from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) as soon as they get the green light, while our technology advances, as seen in 2018, are breathing new life into sectors that we have not serviced in recent years.

“For example, the unloading station we are currently constructing demonstrates the potential for various unloading solutions to be applied in sectors well beyond the mining sector, the first one of which was established as far back as the 1970s.

“Geographically, Sub-Saharan Africa’s mining industry still holds great potential and we are working on various initiatives to capitalise on this.”

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