STEEL grating manufacturer Andrew Mentis and engineering consultants Endecon Ubuntu have joined forces to come up with a cost-effective custom solution for the macadamia farming industry.
According to Sybrand Mostert from Endecon Ubuntu, the macadamia industry has grown exponentially in South Africa and worldwide over recent years with no sign of slowing down.
“Macadamia nuts are picked and stored in drying bins, then moved to holding bins before being shipped out for export,” Mostert said. “Currently costly steel bins with welded angle iron floors to accommodate fans are used in the all critical drying process, and a more cost effective solution had to be found.”
Andrew Mentis, in collaboration with Endecon Ubuntu, did on-site assessments. The data was used to calculate the load bearing capacity and the optimum floor grating configuration required to accommodate the load of the nuts.
A cost effective solution was found in the use of Mentis Gripweld floor grating with 57 x 4.5 mm bearer bars spaced at 160 mm and 200 mm, and 7.7 mm round transversals at 100 mm. Significantly, Andrew Mentis can achieve the required size by slitting the steel to the exact specified dimensions.
Lance Quinlan, national technical sales consultant at Andrew Mentis, said this capability differentiates the company from others in the industry as it is the only floor grating supplier who is equipped to do this.
Sheets of Mentis Flatex 345A, an expanded metal product manufactured from 1.6 mm and not 3.0 mm material for costing and weight purposes, are welded onto the top of the floor grating before installation.
The two companies believe the future lies in the use of concrete bins, optimising the thermal mass the concrete provides which acts as insulation in the drying process, coupled with the durability properties of concrete. The specially customised prefabricated Mentis floor gratings are dropped into the concrete bins from above, eliminating the need for potentially hazardous on-site welding.
When asked about the projected cost saving for the macadamia industry, Mostert says this is significant not just in terms of material cost but also in the savings due to the shorter manufacturing and installation times.
“Nuts are stacked to heights greater than seven metres and the Mentis custom floor grating offers the most economical solution when compared to the use of a welded angle iron floor grid.”