Dr. Andreas Echelmeyer has been head of the Center of Competence for Conveying and Loading Systems at BEUMER Group GmbH & Co. KG in Beckum since mid‑2016. In a conversation with Dr. Echelmeyer, Dr. Petra Strunk, Editor-in-Chief at AT MINERAL PROCESSING, learned exactly how the new facility has developed during the past 3,5 years and what diverse tasks are being performed by the staff at this competence center.
Dr. Echelmeyer: Initially, my work consisted, above all, of listening, watching and understanding the procedures. You take things very seriously, coming from outside, and you question tried-and-proven practices. For the first six months, I mainly took care to obtain a precise picture of the actual state of things, after which I began to reshape the department.
Dr. Echelmeyer: The Center of Competence is not aimed at any particular sector of industry, and we can work on extremely diverse projects, in the fields of mining, or power plants, for example, cement industry projects and harbour handling systems. Our work starts as soon as a customer wishes to implement a complex major project in the field of bulk materials handling. We then firstly discuss the assignment with him. It is vital that we ask the right questions, to enable us, ultimately, to provide a precisely tailored solution.
Dr. Echelmeyer: The implementation of the large-scale Vale Project (see AT 04/2015) resulted in Beumer deciding to also again place greater emphasis on major projects in the company‘s portfolio. This was the foundation for the creation of this new department, our active entry to the market and also our decision to supply solutions for large-scale projects. Previously, we had tended more to react to customer‘s enquiries, whereas now we approach the customer proactively.
Dr. Echelmeyer: The Beumer locations used to act independently of one another in this sphere of business, each of them specialising in particular conveying components – we have now grouped all of this together in a single department and are able to offer customers all-in solutions. In addition, we make visits to the various national companies, and we systematically look, globally, at what needs the customers have and try to understand whether the problems are similar around the world, and what needs are more regional.
Beumer has expanded greatly in recent years, and complete groups of companies and new colleagues have been added. The task here is to integrate all the colleagues working in this sector, to define common aims and to actively proceed together. I, as head of the Competence Center, am also responsible for this. The ultimate target of this restructuring is a joint marketing/sales organisation, with a uniform image and a common strategy.
In addition, much more teamwork is needed, and much more interchange between the employees and the individual departments. In processing of projects, the departments must be integrated in the context of customer enquiries at a very early stage. This is a new approach – marketing, the design department, project management, etc. – and all can exercise an influence on the content and execution of projects at an extremely early point.
Dr. Echelmeyer: We never stop learning, of course, but, at the moment, we already have a very high rate of change, and we need around three years or so for the new to be understood and lived out, the departments established and procedures and processes smoothly implemented.
Dr. Echelmeyer: In the period from 2003 to 2012 there was much rapid investment in the mining sector - and very rapid investments were also absolutely necessary - and the projects were implemented very quickly. The prime need during this phase was speed. There were very many very large projects, with less attention to optimisation and efficiency. I don‘t think there‘ll be a boom like that again in the near future.
At present we‘re looking at the efficiency of things, at emissions, environmental aspects, and costs. We‘re focusing more on optimising large facilities. Haulage of ores using trucks is pretty inefficient, but automated conveying necessitates systems that can cope with uneven and inaccessible terrain. We can supply tried-and-proven solutions in this field. Beumer is a pioneer in this sector, we constructed one of the first curve-capable belt installations globally.
Initially, we implemented cement industry projects, above all. But extremely good and flexible solutions for a range of different terrains are also needed in mining. Beumer is extremely competent in the field of overland haulage. There is a tendency toward ever longer belt systems. The development of belt installations to bridge long distances is coming ever more to the fore, because the use of trucks is extremely complex and costly, and also causes environmental problems.
Dr. Echelmeyer: In addition to the trend toward ever longer belt systems, the time factor is also playing an ever greater role. We recently had a project which necessitated the removal of an old landfill. These are projects on which we have to react quickly, because the material has to be relocated or reprocessed within very short periods. In addition, there is also a greater demand for equipment which is used only temporarily at any specific site. Modular designs can play a decisive role in this context.