Afrox Self-Rescue Division (SRD) has secured a major order from a leading local platinum producer for 26 500 AfroxPac 35i self-contained self-rescuers and accessories in a deal valued at tens of millions of South African rands. This will be supplied over the next five months.
Afrox has also been awarded a contract for monthly on-site leak testing and servicing of all AfroxPacs at this customer’s operations. Once the customer support strategy for the mining company has been fully implemented, dedicated Afrox SRD technicians will handle, test, inspect and record 80 000 units across mining customers’ sites every month.
Against a very tight deadline, the first 6 000 units, capable of providing life-saving oxygen to underground personnel in the event of an underground fire or exposure to toxic gases, were delivered in December. With significant additional industry demand for the product, this raised sales of the AfroxPac 35i in December to record levels, necessitating process optimisation and ramping up of production at SRD’s Benoni (Johannesburg) factory in order to meet commitments.
The platinum mine order goes well beyond producing and delivering 26 500 AfroxPac 35i self-rescuers. The mine also requires individual storage racks for each unit and is obliged to train all users in their proper handling and usage. To this end, Afrox has provided 140 multi-rack storage frames, thousands of items of training and simulation equipment, and is currently training the mine’s trainers and lamproom personnel. Afrox is also represented on the mine’s implementation project committee that meets weekly to oversee the deployment and roll-out of the self-rescuers.
Afrox’s Peter Rowlands attributes the award of this prestigious contract, amid fierce competition, to several factors, including Afrox’s significant investment in the R&D that culminated in the AfroxPac 35i achieving compliance with the onerous SANS 1737:2008 standard. He lists the company’s frank and robust relationship with the platinum miner as another key factor.
“All this is underpinned by the steadfast customer support we’ve provided to the mining company over the preceding 10 years in the form of servicing, repairs, training and responsiveness in supporting the AfroxPac 35 – predecessor to the new AfroxPac35i ,” he adds. “Ten years of independent CSIR performance monitoring shows that the average breathing duration of units in service continues to exceed the new specification.
“Our investment in local manufacture, close supplier relationships, short supply lines, quality management systems and process-based training and controls all combine to make the AfroxPac offering attractive, both in terms of product quality and in the responsiveness that gives the us the ability to ramp up production at very short notice.”
Increased worldwide demand
Rowlands comments that there is an increased worldwide demand for quality self-contained self-rescuers, driven by factors that include the roll-out of best practice across mining groups, genuine concern for the welfare of employees, the introduction of more stringent legislation and mitigation of business risk.
“This latest order reflects the high level of confidence one of the world’s largest platinum producers places in Afrox products and we believe it will open opportunities in a tightly competitive global market,” he says.
“Self-rescuers are deployed for up to 10 years on mines and their purchase represents significant capital expenditure in a highly regulated sector. The choice of a particular device in a competitive arena therefore indicates belief in the ability of that product to save a life after years of deployment in a really tough environment. It also expresses confidence that the supplier will deliver competent after sales service and it provides peace of mind that employees are protected and that legal compliance is achieved.”
Rowlands adds that self-contained self-rescuers exist in a highly regulated environment, alongside a multitude of diverse stakeholders. Government, labour, mining companies and manufacturers all have an interest in the industry from different perspectives.
“It’s a gratifying endorsement of our multi-pronged strategy of focused product development, local manufacture, R&D investment, solid customer support and industry relationships that we’ve become the self-rescuer supplier of choice to a major mining group,” he concludes.
The AfroxPac 35i body-worn self-contained self-rescuer is the latest generation unit, representing three years of development work and testing that culminated in achieving compliance with the SANS1737:2008 standard. The self-rescuer has been developed in close association with the South African mining industry and is 100% locally manufactured and supported, having been tested and under some of the toughest mining conditions in the world.
Issued by: Serendipity Events, Promotions & Exhibitions
On behalf of: Afrox
Editorial contact: Loll Thomson (011) 467 2133 / Mail to: loll@
Client contact: Peter Rowlands / Mail to: peter.rowlands@
Date: 28 February 2013