Weir Minerals’ business involves the manufacture and support of essential equipment for the mining and mineral processing industries including pumps, mill liners, hyrdocyclones and slurry valves.
Weir Minerals’ products feature patented hydraulic designs and the use of highly advanced wear and corrosive resistant materials.
This unique combination of materials and design helps Weir Minerals address the sectors' main concerns regarding the longevity, capacity, efficiency and ease of maintenance in slurry processing and control applications.
Weir Minerals’ main manufacturing plant in Sydney is a fully integrated pump facility. It supports a diverse range of operations from research and development, to design and then to manufacturing.
Casting, rubber moulding, machining, fabrication and testing are all conducted within this single complex and all are monitored with a high level of quality control.
In reviewing the forklift operations as part of its ongoing program of quality control, Weir Minerals recognised that they should rationalise its mixture of hired and owned equipment by selecting a single supplier.
Weir Minerals’ wanted a supplier who would also provide a management service for its forklift range, something they had never done before.
Finding the right forklift partner
In choosing a new supplier, Weir Minerals developed a selection process with strict criteria to ensure they found the right partner for its needs. This is planned to become a long-term relationship, so it was essential that they made the right decision.
Weir Minerals initially tendered 5 different companies. From these a short list of 3 was chosen to participate in practical trial periods at Weir Minerals’ manufacturing facility.
During this trial, the main considerations for Weir Minerals came down to several key areas - occupational health and safety, service and maintenance and naturally productivity. Environmental issues were also a concern as was the level of after sales support and the scope for finding long-term improvement.
Display by Linde Materials Handling
On an operational basis, Linde Materials Handling made an immediate impression. Anita Andrasy from Weir Minerals says, “All our operators agreed that Linde’s hydrostatic transmission makes it much easier to operate the machines as it’s more user friendly than standard transmissions. The Linde forklifts also had lower emissions than the others – both in fuel and noise. In fact, we couldn’t even hear the Linde’s operating.”
In regard to health and safety, the Linde Fleet Management System also played a big part in Weir Minerals’ decision to choose Linde Materials Handling.
“There are so many great features in this system,” says Anita Andrasy, “Especially in regards to reducing the abuse or misuse of forklifts to avoid potential damage. Before you even start the forklift, you need to do a safety check and start programme. If this isn’t done, then after 5 minutes it will slow down to 1 or 2km/h and start beeping, letting the driver know they must do the check.”
She adds, “If the vehicle is damaged in any way, then an email or SMS is immediately sent to a manager and this also helps discipline the operators. The system also reports when a vehicle is due for maintenance.”
Another feature of the Linde Fleet Management System that impressed Weir Minerals was the ability to allocate certain vehicles to certain operators.
“If an operator hasn’t got the authorisation for a particular truck, then it can’t be started, this is particularly helpful in regard to Occupational Health and Safety checks,” says Anita Andrasy.
“To ensure this all works smoothly, Linde also provided us with full driver training with each operator learning on specific trucks. Once the drivers are properly trained, their details are put into the Linde Fleet Management System. If they haven’t received the training, then there is no way that they can start that particular truck.” The Linde forklifts also demonstrated good operational qualities.
According to Anita Andrasy, she says, “We were concerned about how the team would like the Hydrostatic Transmission, but once they used it, they loved it. It’s so much easier, the movements are quicker and the trucks tackle steep surfaces with ease.”
As Weir Minerals’ manufacturing facility involves heavy industry including a foundry, durability in a tough working environment was also an essential factor in the decision process.
As Anita Andrasy explains, “We use black sand in the foundry area and this had previously caused problems with our other forklifts because they sucked air in from the bottom of the machines. Linde forklifts have the air intakes on the top, so the chance for damage due to sand ingestion into the engine is greatly reduced.
"The metal scraps on the floor of the foundry were also a problem in this regard and once again, having the intake at the top has eliminated this problem. These metal shards are also extremely harsh on the tyres, and Linde Materials Handling’s tyres are well up to the task.
Not to mention the hot working environment, the Linde trucks can certainly handle the heat when surrounded by molten metal and the bright red paint job allows them to stand out in the darkened space.”
Since choosing Linde Materials Handling, Weir Minerals has yet to experience any problems with the trucks.
Anita Andrasy says, “Before we started with Linde Materials Handling, we had problems every week. We always used to have 4 or 5 trucks in the maintenance bay because of some problem."
"This greatly affected our business as non-functioning trucks impact on our production levels and ultimately cost us more than just the cost of repairing the trucks. With Linde, should a problem ever arise, we now have a preventative schedule in place rather than just a reactive process."
Linde Materials Handling has provided Weir Minerals with a dedicated account representative to ensure the smooth operation of the fleet, and he works closely with Anita Andrasy who says, “Matthew Potts is always helpful and reacts quickly to any request that I may have. He provides a genuinely hands-on service.”
“We specialise in slurry equipment solutions, not forklifts, and we wanted someone to manage the whole fleet process for us. I didn’t want to personally have to deal with the breakdown issues, or maintenance checks, or worry that the truck that I had hired wasn’t the right one for the job. I wanted someone I could trust to take care of it all for me, and Matthew did just that."
"Even during the trials, we could see the positive impact that Linde was having on our business – lower costs, better productivity and reduced down time. So far we’ve had no problems with them at all, which proves our decision was the right one!”
The Linde Materials Handling Team will conduct an in depth review of Weir Minerals’ material handling solution after the full fleet installation has been completed.