Rio Tinto engages conveyor specialist

Rio Tinto

Masters in conveyor componentry and specialist maintenance, TS Global’s next challenge is working alongside Rio Tinto at its iron ore operations in Western Australia.

TS Global has been successful with a three-year contract to supply conveyor components and associated maintenance for Rio Tinto Iron Ore (RTIO) in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

From its manufacturing facility in Newcastle, New South Wales, TS Global will provide conveyor and belt cleaning solutions to RTIO, reducing downtime and increasing productivity, with the company’s specialised experience to be a valued attribute in the partnership.

TS Global is also building a dedicated team in Western Australia to ensure RTIO receives the necessary assistance and servicing to ensure its conveyor systems keep turning.

During the contract tender process, TS Global’s reputation as experts in its field gave it the edge over the competition.

“Product knowledge is key. The conveyor service industry has moved into an area where there’s a lot of generalists … and many of these companies are belt manufacturing or belt splicing companies that try to do a lot of mechanical work,” TS Global director Graham Holford says.

“Our vision is to focus simply on our mechanical components and employ product specialists and knowledgeable people that specialise in our product – what’s required to make our product the best.”

Holford says that becoming a master of your craft is an important consideration at TS Global, without this, the company would not be able to deliver its high-quality service.

“At the end of the day, if we do our job well, our business is successful; if we don’t do it well, we haven’t got belt sales and belt splicing sales to fall back on,” he says.

“It (mechanical components) is our core business, and we must be successful at it. And as a result, we’ve got good people with exceptional skills, delivering a great result to our clients.”

Prior to securing the contract, TS Global was put through a series of performance tests to ensure its offering was up to Rio Tinto’s standards. The company impressed at all levels.

“The feedback was that we performed well which we’re confident of because all our products are stainless steel,” Holford says.

“We believe the cushions we supply are the best worldwide and we’re pretty confident our tungsten tips – the bit that does all the cleaning – is equivalent to anything else on the market.”

The exclusive use of stainless steel on structural components has been central to TS Global’s growing reputation – an innovative solution that was strategically employed following careful consideration of its competition.

“The majority of our competitors put a mild steel product out into the marketplace and when we started TS Global in 2007, we were able to consider the positives and negatives of taking mild steel to the market versus doing everything out of stainless steel,” Holford says.

“By the time we’d completed business cases around manufacturing out of stainless versus mild steel, the costs associated with blasting, painting and labour transporting to the painter was more expensive than paying the premium for the stainless steel.”

TS Global gave itself an ultimatum and has stuck with it ever since.

“We believe this has been to our clients benefit with a reduction in TCO (total cost of ownership),” Holford says.

“We made the decision that everything we were going to make was out of stainless steel which gave us a product with a superior lifecycle, particularly in the coal industry where there’s a lot of moisture in the coal and you have ongoing issues with things seizing and rusting.

“Stainless steel gives us a product structurally that should last for 20-30 years.”

The Rio Tinto contract enables TS Global to continue expanding its capability and its team – something the company has become quite familiar with as it enjoys a period of significant growth.

“Six to 12 months ago, TS Global was based in New South Wales; we employed approximately 30 people,” Holford says.

“In the last 12 months, we opened the branch in Emerald. We’ve opened a branch over in WA. We’re employing probably 70 people now and have positions open for another 30. We’re on the way to tripling in size in under 12 months.”

The company also continues to invest heavily in research and development (R&D).

“We’ve got a lot of R&D projects on the go currently and we’re expecting a range of smart belt clamps and belt lifters to hit the market into the new year. These coupled with our newly developed range of pulley lifting beams all focussed on improving safety associated with conveyor maintenance.

“These new products are on the way, and I think we’re finding a strong place in today’s mining practices.”

This feature appeared in the February issue of Australian Mining.

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