SKF Group Company, Lincoln Lubrication South Africa’s Africa Export division recently received approval from a leading cement producer in Africa to supply, install and commission 51 Muster II Automated Fire Suppression (AFS) systems at its cement plant in Nigeria. The systems will be installed on drill rigs, crawler excavators, dump trucks, wheel loaders and other mobile equipment. The scope of work also includes a twelve-month maintenance contract.
Lincoln Lubrication SA’s Export Sales Manager, Joseph Kumwimba, who was instrumental in securing the order, explains that he has been working with the cement producer on this project since 2015 when he did his very first presentation. “An opportunity then arose to introduce the same system to the cement producer’s Senegalese company and my proposal was accepted. This gave us a foot in the door to approach the Nigerian counterpart who happened to invite me to site for assistance with lubrication. I noticed that the customer did not have any kind of protection against fire on their large mobile fleet, resulting in costly machine damages and losses as a result of fires. In addition to unwanted downtime, the customer faced high repair and replacement bills.”
Kumwimba decided to point out the importance of having a fire suppression solution on their mobile machines and the associated cost and time saving benefits. SKF Nigeria and Lincoln Lubrication SA proposed the Muster II AFS system and recognising the unquestionable value add, the customer did not hesitate in placing an order to equip 51 mobile machines on the cement plant with the AFS system.
Kumwimba describes the Muster II AFS system as “a one a kind and one of the best in the AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam) fire system category.” The system boasts a host of features including a 24/7 integrity (sensing cylinder actuator) monitoring system and a data download capability (system diagnostic) which are fully monitored by an alarm panel. The system has an independent power source and uses state-of-the-art transducers. Featuring a fast manual and automated actuation point in case of fire, Muster II is also designed to reduce false discharge and alarm. All components are manufactured from high quality stainless steel to ensure robustness, reliability and long life span.
Kumwimba explains that the particular system that will be installed on the plant equipment will make use of a LOP (Loss of Pressure) sensor; the system updates the Alarm Panel with information every second. Tubing is strategically positioned above the areas identified in the risk assessment. When the pressurised tubing is exposed to fire, the rapid elevation in temperature causes the material to plasticise and rupture. The resulting sudden release of pressure to the actuation circuit then acts to open the actuation valve to release the foam mix. The pressure drop in the system sets off the fire alarm. After deployment, the cylinder must be refilled with water and 2% foam and then pressurised, ready to get back to work as soon as possible to keep machine downtime to an absolute minimum. Kumwimba adds that the water and foam quantities are dependent on the size of the cylinder which varies between the different types of mobile machines.
Kumwimba confirms that all 51 Muster II systems have already been shipped to Nigeria and are expected to reach site soon. “We are preparing a team of three senior technicians who will carry out the installation which is expected to commence before the end of March 2021.”
Once installation is complete, Lincoln Lubrication specialists will provide training to the cement company’s team on day-to-day maintenance procedures and practices over the first year. “We will also be conducting annual site visits,” adds Kumwimba.
Kumwimba says that although most countries are not under strict Covid-19 lockdown measures, the African Expert team is finding that freedom of movement is hampered. “We are currently relying on various distributor networks in different countries to assist us with visits to end-users where travel is restricted.”
Wrapping up, Kumwimba says, “The fact that this project took six years to come to fruition bears testament to the fact that our type of industry presents numerous challenges. It requires a lot of time and patience, perseverance, consistency, regular customer visits, mental toughness and most importantly, a very purpose-driven personality, especially when it comes to the African market where trust needs to be earned!”