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August 9, 2022
SADC Mining & Construction News
Africa Business

South Africa: Rand-Air takes its rental business underground

Esteemed rental specialist, Rand-Air, is committed to a continued investment in the expansion and renewal of its comprehensive hire fleet in a bid to offer industry a wide and flexible choice of superior quality, reliable and efficient machines.  The company is hire partner of choice for a wide range of industrial sectors across Southern Africa including petrochemical, power generation, food & beverage, automotive, utilities and construction. 

“In line with this core strategy, we have put in place a three-year plan which has already seen a significant investment in over 65 new rental machines this year,” says Rand-Air Fleet Manager, Craig Swart. “This has boosted our total fleet of mobile oil-free and oil-injected air compressors, diesel- and electric-powered screw air compressors, diesel generators, lighting plants and pumps to over 1000, comprising 755 machines and more than 350 ancillary pieces such as receiver tanks, dryers, etc.”

Setting Rand-Air apart in the rental industry is the organisation’s unique ability to convert machines to suit operation in underground gold and platinum mines. Faced with strict targets to get these precious commodities out of the ground, mines simply cannot afford to lose a single blast so machine reliability in this harsh environment is paramount.  

Rand-Air recently bolstered their GA 160, 110 and 75 air compressors with the addition of another ten machines for underground applications. “We share a close 25-year partnership with a supplier who takes care of the machine modifications,” says Craig. This partner is responsible for ruggedising the air compressors by reconfiguring and enclosing the machines in robust cages that meet mine lift dimensions.  He adds that modifications also include the conversion of the machines to mechanical operation in order to withstand the punishing underground conditions.  This includes the removal of electronics (Elektronikons) and digital screens.

“For large contract projects, we station a specialist three-man team, two operators and one technician, underground, who are trained to work in this very different environment,” continues Craig. “This enables us to service the machines on site and attend to any breakdowns immediately.” Machines take a heavy pounding underground and small repairs such as panel replacements are done at Rand-Air’s fully-equipped workshop in Jet Park, Johannesburg. Full machine rebuilds however, are done by the supplier. Inspection and commissioning takes place under the guise of technicians from both Rand-Air and the supplier.  

Craig explains how the Rand-Air fleet has evolved over the years to meet changing customer needs. “Having noted a growing demand for larger rental machines, we decided to gradually move away from the smaller construction type machines, which also saw us divesting in handheld tools.” Craig says that Rand-Air’s focus has shifted to large oil-free compressors with ten new recent additions to the fleet. These machines, which have fast become Rand-Air’s flagship range, are popular for applications in sectors such as petrochemical, food & beverage, electronics, and spray painting where 100% clean quality air is paramount to avoid any risk of contamination to end-products or processes.

Also making up Rand-Air’s large generator fleet are the QAC1100 TwinPower machines which Craig says is also extremely popular due to their extreme flexibility and transportability. Containerised side by side, the two QAC generators deliver up to 1MW of predictable power on a single platform. In addition to meeting the standard 500 Volt mine requirement, Rand-Air has also supplied a fleet of machines to a mine in Sasolburg that requires 1000 Volts.  

                                                                                                                2/…Rand-Air underground

2/…Rand-Air underground

“A recent investment in 20 new surface dewatering pumps has further ramped up our hire fleet to a total of some 25 pump units,” affirms Craig. These new open frame, trailer mounted pumps include four PAS 150 medium and ten high flow units and six PAC H high heads. “Having a fully comprehensive top quality fleet gives us competitive edge. Not only are we able to ensure product availability and quick turnaround times, but we can also offer our customers a wider product choice.” Craig reveals that due to a growing request for steam boiler hire, Rand-Air will soon be adding these machines to its fleet, giving customers a truly diverse range of rental products.

Rand-Air is committed to maintaining its indelible reputation of having a hire fleet of top quality, reliable and efficient machines. “Rule of thumb is that we retire machines after five years of service but it also depends on the number of hours the machines have clocked. We therefore closely monitor machine reliability and if even two- or three-year old units with high operating hours do not meet our strict parameters, they are duly taken out of commission,” concludes Craig.  

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