17 November, 2014:Underground miners entrust their safety and wellbeing to AfroxPac 35i self-contained self-rescuer (SCSR) devices on a daily basis, and manufacturer Afrox is celebrating the production of its 100 000th unit in a record time of just two years.
The AfroxPac 35i is designed to supply life-saving oxygen to a miner in the event of an irrespirable or toxic atmosphere developing underground. It is unique in that it is one of the few mining devices expected to be permanently attached to the body and carried by the miners throughout the duration of their shift.
Designed for use in harsh hard rock mines, the AfroxPac 35i and its predecessor, the AfroxPac 35, have shown remarkable durability. Typically an AfroxPac 35i can be carried for 15 000 to 20 000 hours during its lifespan, with units used cumulatively in over a million worker hours daily. An upgrade of the AfroxPac 35, the AfroxPac 35i was introduced locally in 2012.
Afrox Head of Hardgoods Operations, Christo Wiid says that the 100 000th unit was manufactured in October 2014, which is a significant achievement. “Although the quantum in itself is a milestone, the timeframe in which it was achieved is the real success, and this commemoration event presents an opportunity to recognise the contributions of all involved.”
According to Wiid, Afrox has tripled its production throughput to reach this milestone, which is ultimately the result of an increase in market demand. “Due to the demanding operating environment, mines regularly place large orders for the AfroxPac 35i. As a result, we tripled our throughput throughout the supply chain to ensure that we continue to meet demand.”
Wiid explains that Afrox designs and assembles all components of the SANS 1737:2008 compliant AfroxPac 35i at its Benoni facility with component manufacturing sub-contracted to various small manufacturing businesses. “Some of the parts are so unique that entire businesses have had to be set up to produce them. A big thank you must go out to our staff, suppliers and customers – without these three essential elements coming together in synergy, this outstanding feat would never have been possible,” he says.
Commenting on this outstanding achievement, Afrox managing director Brett Kimber says: “Being underground in confined space with excessive heat is very uncomfortable indeed. The production of the 100 000th AfroxPac 35i SCSR in record time is evidence that the device provides greater comfort and peace-of-mind with regards to safety, and that is something for us to be exceptionally proud of.”
Kimber believes that this feat reflects positively on safety in Africa. “Not only does the AfroxPac 35i improve worker safety in Africa, it also places the continent as a leader in the development and supply of world class safety solutions. This is sure to increase future sales, and make us even more competitive on an international scale,” he continues.
Afrox boasts a two-thirds market share in the South African SCSR market, and is a leader across Southern Africa. Wiid states that demand for the AfroxPac 35i continues to increase. “Local demand remains strong and we have new shipments ready for Zambia and Zimbabwe. Interest is being generated further afield as far as Turkey, while a tunnelling project in Dubai has also expressed a keen interest in placing orders for the AfroxPac 35i.”
As part of its ongoing commitment to providing a value-added service to its client base, the Afrox Self-Rescue division provides full training on the AfroxPac 35i. Although basic use and care of the AfroxPac 35i is simple, Wiid stresses that it is essential for mine trainers to be fully trained themselves in the application of the product, to ensure that it maintains its life-saving features.
“We provide on-site instruction to the mine trainers to ensure that they incorporate the skills into the mine’s training programme. We also provide training in the care and maintenance of the units for the staff members responsible for storing and issuing the units. Training lasts two to three hours, followed by a written and practical assessment, in addition to a yearly reassessment,” he concludes.
Notes to the Editor
There are numerous photographs specific to this press release. Please visit http://media.ngage.co.za and click the Afrox link.
African Oxygen Limited (Afrox) is sub-Saharan Africa’s market leader in gases and welding products. Afrox was founded in 1927, listed on the JSE in 1963, and has prospered by constantly meeting the needs of customers and developing solutions that add value to customer applications. Afrox operates in South Africa and in ten other African countries. It also manages operations in five additional countries on behalf of its parent company, The Linde Group - a global gases, engineering and technology company.
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