The Emalahleni branch of FUCHS LUBRICANTS SOUTH AFRICA in Mpumalanga offers a dedicated pump-on service to major coal-mining clients to keep essential equipment such as draglines and excavators operation-al at all times.
Branch Manager Stefan Venter explains that two FUCHS trucks are on standby to supply product to a dragline’s 3 000 kg capacity lubricant tanks. “It makes for a closed loop system as we do not have any contamination issues from opening up a drum. We simply use quick couplers to connect and pump the product in, emptying a 1 200 kg bulk bin at a time. It is a value-added service we offer to the coal-mining industry in the region,” says Venter.
FUCHS also has field service technicians on-site at most of its big mining clients, who oversee the lubrication system at the mine, test it and carry out fault finding, reporting and any repairs necessary. They are also responsible to ensure lubricant availability at all times, as a non-operational dragline has a major impact on productivity.
Venter says the coal-mining industry has seen a 10% to 15% decline over the past couple of years in line with the general downturn in the global mining industry. However, South Africa’s ongoing reliance on fossil fuels for power generation continues to present opportunities as new coal mines open up, especially on the underground side. “In terms of overall production, I would say that the coal mining industry is down on what it used to.”
The Emalahleni branch also supplies FUCHS’ well-known automotive lubricants and is involved in niche sectors such as smelters, machine tools, chrome mining and power generation. Main products supplied to the coal mining industry are specialised high-performance products formulated specifically for large machines such as draglines, in addition to greases for pins and bushes, open gears, bearings and rope dressings. “That is 60% to 80% of our overall business,” says Venter. Smaller-volume products include gearbox, hydraulic and compressor oils.
Venter joined FUCHS legacy company Lubritene in 1999 as a service technician and was appointed Emalahleni branch manager in 2005. Having been at the helm for an astonishing 18 years, he has seen the branch grow from humble beginnings in Middelburg to a dedicated site in Emalahleni.
In 2020, the branch relocated to a prime location in Watermeyer Street in the Klipfontein area in Emalahleni, boasting a 650 m2 warehouse and 100 m2 office space. Venter oversees a team of 20, including two key account managers and four to eight service technicians.