Developed in close collaboration with clients, the company stated that the new designs address both efficiency and cost-effectiveness in a versatile product range that meets the specific ventilation requirements of the mining industry.
The development of the new fan range concept began in early 2015. Following a lengthy global market study to gain an understanding of the market requirements, the range was defined in mid-2017, with the fabrication of the first units taking place shortly thereafter.
"The development of the auxiliary and booster fan range would not have been possible without the input of clients," said Michael Minges, technical director at TLT-Turbo Africa, who headed up the fans' designs. "This ensured that we focused on key market-driven requirements including energy efficiency, noise reduction, cost-effectiveness and turnaround time.
"To sell these products we needed to ensure close customer relationships and visibility. We are striving to change the industry's mindset on the use of such fans to ensure proper fan selection for the ventilation required. In optimising mine ventilation, efficient, high-quality auxiliary and booster fans can add as much value as surface fan installations."
TLT-Turbo started commissioning of the first iterations of the fan range towards the end of 2017 within the Sub-Saharan market through its Africa office. From there, the company based the development of the various fan sizes of the new range on market interest.
Minges explained that meeting identified market demands was the main focus of the improved designs: "As energy efficiency is one of the main drivers of industrial equipment usage, and minimum efficiency requirements on certain equipment are often legislated, TLT-Turbo identified the need and opportunity in the market for more efficient mining fans compared to what is currently in use."
The new designs include several additions to enhance performance in order to provide excellent underground ventilation. The fan range was developed using the latest in engineering flow technology, which allowed TLT-Turbo to improve the aerodynamics, and thus the efficiency of the fans.
According to the company, a new stator design and aerodynamic fairings, all manufactured from wear-resistant composite materials, resulting in improved efficiencies and reduced noise levels. The modularity of the fan casings allows for quick and easy assembly with interchangeable ancillary fan parts. The motor mounting in coherence with a machined impeller track ensures low and controllable blade tip clearances for improved performance and efficiencies. Pad mount motors are used for all fan sizes and help reduce vibration levels in the axial direction of the motor significantly, which leads to longer motor bearing life and lower maintenance requirements.
Minges said that all possible measures are taken to ensure the highest quality and best possible performance of every fan supplied by TLT-Turbo. "All fans are ISO 5801 tested unless the client agrees to type testing on higher volume orders," he explained. "We ensure the client quoted performance is met before the fans leave the factory. Test certificates on both raw data and calculated performance can be provided on request. Fan efficiency is determined with the performance test and this quality check ensures we deliver on what we promised the client. Clients are regularly invited to witness the performance tests to sign off on acceptance. The fans also come with pressure ports that can be hooked up to a calibrated handheld measuring device to measure performance in-situ."
In addition to performance and efficiency, ease of maintenance was also a major consideration in developing the new auxiliary and booster range. The modularity of the product design and the interchangeable standardised parts allows for quick turnaround time on parts supply.
"For example, we only have two blade types for the full product range and generally only one motor barrel per fan size accommodating various motor sizes and types," said Minges. "Standardisation on the product is the key to successfully managing maintenance and repair as it allows ample supply of spares for companies certified to do the repair work. The design track record has indicated a longer mean time between failure (MTBF) than previous products."
The fan range is being rolled out in phases. The preliminary testing at sites located in Sub-Saharan Africa has been launched successfully. The next phase is globalisation as the new range will be rolled out in the US, Canada, Europe, Russia and Australia. Following this, product supply and support will be extended to TLT-Turbo offices in South America and India. In the interim though, Minges said that these fans can be supplied to clients worldwide from TLT-Turbo Africa.
TLT-Turbo Africa has received several orders for these fans since the end of 2017. These orders include South African clients seeking a solution for deepening a gold mine and for Kamoa Copper in the DRC as an exclusive supplier.
"The feedback that we have received thus far has been that the fans are meeting our and client expectations," commented Minges. "I am proud to say that one EPC consultant used the phrase ‘superfan' to describe the new range and indicated that he has not heard a fan of this size so quiet before."
He concluded: "The auxiliary and booster fan range was developed to enhance TLT-Turbo's mining ventilation product portfolio. The product is based on historic innovative designs by the TLT-Turbo Africa R&D team. Continual product development and keeping up to date with the latest technologies is ingrained within the engineering teams of TLT-Turbo. Ensuring that innovations are market and client-driven with the end result being a benefit to the industry, puts us in the forefront of advancement in ventilation solutions."