The SKF North West Africa team successfully demonstrated their expertise as a solutions provider and secured a 24-month Rotational Equipment Performance (REP) contract with one of Morocco’s leading cement producers that operates over ten plants on the African continent.

When the senior management of the cement producer decided to reduce the cost of their spare parts stock, they were faced with a challenge. With reliability and safety as key focus areas of plant operation, dependable premium quality stock and optimised machine availability were critical in order to avoid unplanned shutdowns.

“The customer was inclined to purchase bearings from the lowest bidder which presented us with a price battle, making it very difficult to secure their business,” explains Amine Ghali Benna, SKF Industrial Sales Manager, Morocco / Mauritania – Mining, Mineral Processing and Cement. “We realised that we needed to change the customer’s mindset so that the cement producer can recognise SKF as not simply a bearing supplier but rather as a solutions provider partner.”

The SKF North West Africa team therefore decided to adopt a new approach, building a solid relationship based on trust with the customer’s technical team. “In addition to offering technical support, we also started hosting technical days and conducted on-site visits,” says Benna. “Aware of the customer’s challenges, we highlighted all the advantages of focusing on improving equipment reliability to avoid unscheduled machine breakdowns and the resultant cost implications. Our hard work and perseverance paid off and we convinced the customer to sign a 24-month REP contract for bearings and service with our local Authorised Distributor, AFIT (AFRICAN FOURNITURE INDUSTRIELLE ET TECHNIQUE).”

The scope of the REP agreement, which commenced in Q3 2021, addresses all the customer’s requirements: The supply of bearings via AFIT combined with a local stock to ensure availability, offline Vibration Analysis on critical equipment and online Monitoring (Cloud version) for a critical fan including monthly reporting. Benna adds that training of the customer’s maintenance team also, importantly, forms part of the agreement.

The bearings that are being supplied as part of the contract include Spherical Roller Bearings (SRBs) and Deep Groove Ball Bearings (DGBBs) plus housings for installation on a variety of equipment including fans, conveyors and ball mills. Benna points out that as these bearings are most critical, it is imperative that the customer has them available in stock.

For the moment, as part of a pilot project, the SKF North West Africa team is monitoring the plant’s most critical fan that is responsible for extracting the hot air from the cement kiln. Installation will be expanded to the ball mills as well as the cement kiln and conveyor drive head.

The training programme comprises a three-day on-site bearing mounting course as well as Vibration Analysis and Lubrication Best Practices courses, the latter two taking place on-site over two days. The Vibration Analysis program includes two consecutive courses for critical equipment conducted over three days on the customer’s site. SKF North West Africa can also provide optional Balancing and Alignment on demand. The first training session will be rolled out during March 2022, followed by a second programme towards the end of the year.

“As a service provider, we add value for the customer by enhancing the performance of their maintenance staff with the support of the SKF team. Moreover, by increasing equipment reliability and availability through optimising REP, thereby helping to prevent catastrophic equipment failure and reduce the risk of plant downtime, we are delivering the benefits of low OPEX (Operational Expenditure) and TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) to our valued customer,” concludes Benna. 

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