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Thursday, 11 July 2019 09:28

The optimised factory floor: Hytec Engineering invests in efficiency

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Each cylinder is tracked across the production floor with a new scanning system that provides complete traceability and visibility of the facility’s manufacturing and refurbishment processes

Bosch Rexroth South Africa Group companies continue to invest in their production floors, with Hytec Engineering the latest Group company to optimise its manufacturing and repairs operation.

The acquisition of an additional 1 000 m2 of floor space; upgrades to shop equipment; as well as an optimised process flow of the factory that includes improved visibility of the shop floor are new investments that are allowing the hydraulic cylinders specialists to enhance the operational efficiency of its production capabilities.

Established in 1979, Hytec Engineering is one of the few hydraulics cylinder companies in sub-Saharan Africa with in-house cylinder design, manufacturing, testing and repair services in a single workshop. Its locally manufactured cylinders, which cover the complete fluid power spectrum up to 700 bar, are used in mining, materials handling, steel, oil and gas, marine and other industries.

It is also one of a limited number of companies offering a hydraulic cylinder exchange programme it offers as part of its cylinder services across Africa.  

And now, it boasts a remodelled ISO 9001-accredited facility geared towards maximum handling efficiency and an ergonomic, lean production flow, and meeting the most stringent health and safety standards.

Optimised production flowThe purchase of an additional 1 000 m2 of an adjacent work space has allowed the company to move most of the initial cylinder refurbishment facilities to this dedicated area.

Here, cylinders sent for repairs from mining and industrial sites across southern Africa are cleaned, stripped and assessed prior to refurbishment. New equipment, such as an upgraded, state-of-the-art stripping bench, delivering 1 350 000 Nm of torque, has enhanced the efficiency across the inspection and assessment process.

The main area of the workshop is now dedicated to component manufacture, assembly, testing and painting of the company’s hydraulic cylinders via a redesigned production flow.

“In consultation with Bosch Rexroth production systems engineers from Germany, the process flow of the factory has been reconfigured with an emphasis on efficient handling and movement of products and workers,” explains Hytec Engineering General Manager Pierre Goosen.

From rod manufacture, welding, barrel manufacture, the process flows to a preassembly area where quality of components is checked before entering the assembly line. At the end of the assembly line, the company’s high-tech, in-house designed cylinder test bench verifies the quality and conformance of cylinders to their precise design specifications. Once tested, the cylinders are ready for painting in the company’s new three-stage painting booths.

Another new piece of equipment in the factory is the company’s sponge blasting facility, among the first applications of this technology in South Africa. Faster and far safer than traditional chemicals in removing paint and other superficial contaminants from repaired cylinders, while also not generating the hazardous quantities of combustible dust associated with shot blasting, the fully containerised sponge blasting facility is a critical part of this modern, optimised factory. In addition, this technique allows Hytec Engineering to provide special surface finishes on new manufactured cylinders as required by customers’ specialised applications.

Complete process visibility

Matching the company’s investments in new equipment and modernised production methodologies is its desire to gain greater visibility of the factory floor, and Hytec Engineering is the first of the Bosch Rexroth South Africa Group companies to introduce the Group’s new, sophisticated job tracking system to its workshop.

This system automates and integrates information of the company’s complete production chain, from the availability of materials and OEM parts to the administration of the various tasks of the production floor onto a central, in-house developed platform that integrates into the Group’s enterprise resource planning system.

“This provides far greater intelligence in understanding the status, progress and predicted delivery dates of each project, down to a component level,” Goosen says.  

“For our customers, this means greater accuracy and transparency in predicting the final quotation time frames, manufacturing lead times and delivery dates of their cylinder order or repair. This is based on algorithms considering longest lead time of materials, labour availability, machine availability, and so on.” Customers will be able to receive automated reports about their products at their request.

A factory floor for the future

“These investments have produced a modern factory process that is tailored to our current operations, as well as towards meeting our expectations of growth, especially in the African markets, in the future,” Goosen explains. These markets, he says, especially Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo, now represent close to a third of the company’s business.

With a revamped, modern production floor geared to delivering new efficiencies of production of the company’s renowned cylinders, Hytec Engineering is ready to meet the needs of mines and industries across Africa with the highest quality fluid power solutions.

These are the innovations that will ensure Hytec Engineering maintains its position as one of Africa’s leading hydraulic cylinder OEMs.

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