Crane manufacturer Condra received the order in June and is committed to a delivery date of six weeks from drawing approval.

The new crane will be a double-girder electric overhead design, spanning 21m and equipped with two hoists: a 35-ton main unit and 5.0-ton auxiliary, both mounted on the same crab and delivering lifting heights of 15m and 16m respectively.

Maximum long travel speed will be 31m/min, with 15.4m/min on the cross travel. Control will be by mobile pendant.

The crane will feature a full-length walkway, dual-speed controls on all functions, binder brakes, stainless steel panels and IP65 dust and waterproofing for the motors. The paint finish will be to a high-specification anti-corrosion standard.

Condra said that Natal Cranes has been servicing a 10-ton Condra maintenance crane installed in 1987 on the same gantry as the crane from a different manufacturer, which failed inspection and load testing and is now being replaced. The 10-tonner is still working after 36 years.

After the installation and commissioning of the new Condra crane, the failed crane will be scrapped.

Commenting on the order, Marc Kleiner, managing director at Condra, said the mill’s need to replace a failed machine was a good illustration of lost production and additional expenditure being the direct result of a buying process where price exerted undue influence.

“The old adage that the proof of the pudding is in the eating is relevant even in the market for overhead cranes,” he said.

“Condra’s product quite simply has more depth and durability. Our sales pitch might sometimes not be as polished as our rivals, but the mettle of our products is well proven – witness Condra’s 10-tonner on the same gantry as the failed crane, and still working even though it was installed almost 40 years ago, years before the failed machine.”

A complete range of spare parts remains readily available, he added.

Kleiner explained that Condra’s tender price could in many cases not be the lowest, because the product represented a first-rate, top-quality offering.

“But the longevity of our installations around the world justifies the investment made in them. These are robust, reliable cranes.”

Condra claims to have captured an increasing share of the lifting equipment market in Africa south of the Sahara in recent years, securing orders against “determined competition from European rivals”.

Research and development at the company is ongoing and includes a commitment to environmental improvement. Design engineers are currently researching the effect of different rotor and rotor winding configurations – silumin (aluminium–silicon) among them – on motor torque and efficiency, the aim being to contribute to environmental improvement by reducing energy input requirements.

The company has additionally installed solar panels at its Germiston and Cape Town factories to provide an estimated 70% of electricity requirements.

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