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Australian invention celebrates 80th anniversary

It’s been 80 years since an Australian invention – the “ground-breaking” Warman slurry pump – was introduced to the mining industry.

In honour of the pump, Weir Minerals hosted an event at the end of May in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. Throughout the evening, attendees relived the history of Warman pumps and gained an insight into some of the future innovations planned.

“It was a privilege to share this night with some of our key customers, past and present employees, and members of the Western Australian School of Mines,” said Ricardo Garib, divisional president of Weir Minerals.

“Warman is one of our leading brands. It has truly shaped the mining industry over the past 80 years. The Warman pump, invented to solve high wear issues in slurry pumping, created a thriving industrial business that is now the cornerstone of Weir Minerals with more than 8000 people, and more than 150 manufacturing and service centres across the globe.”

Charles Warman invented the Warman slurry pump in Kalgoorlie in 1938. It was a hard-wearing slurry pump that used replaceable liners and a replaceable impeller.

“The use of rubber lining in the pump was ground-breaking as it reduced total ownership costs, was safer to handle and offered extended wear life in many abrasive slurry applications,” Marcus Lane, global product manager for centrifugal pumps at Weir Minerals, said.

The pump was adopted throughout the goldfields in WA and by the 1950s, Charles Warman expanded his business by opening offices in Sydney and Perth.

Then: A Warman pump in the 1950s.
Then: A Warman pump in the 1950s.
Now: A Warman pump in service today in Kalgoorlie.
Now: A Warman pump in service today in Kalgoorlie.

In the 1960s the rapid growth of the business continued with manufacturing and sales outlets established around the world. The Series A pump became a leader in its field. Further work on the AH pump resulted in the development of interchangeable metal and rubber wearing components.

The AH pump range was extended with the addition of the AHP high pressure pump in 1974. At the time, this was the largest rubber-lined high pressure slurry pump in the world, and is still in service today in many tailings pipelines across the world.

The innovations continued, with pumps designed for many tough applications, including flue gas desulphurisation. In 1994 the GSL pump was developed to handle high flows and corrosive slurry.

“I think one of the key reasons for the growth of the Warman pump was that it was reliable – people came to trust it because it had been around for so long,” Lane said. “It was this trust that enabled them to focus on other things in the plant and not have to worry about the pump stopping their business.”

The Weir Group acquired the Warman pump in 1999. As part of the Weir Minerals division, numerous technological advancements were achieved for the Warman pump range. In 2002 Weir developed an innovative new impeller and inlet design for pumping mineral froths and high density viscous slurries, and in 2009 it released the WBH pump with axial and rotationally adjustable throatbush to even out wear. Due to its innovative design, the WBH soon became the new slurry pump standard.

“At Weir Minerals, we are always thinking of new ways to improve the Warman pump for our customers,” Lane said. “Research and development has underpinned all of the product development that we’ve completed and is absolutely crucial to the business.”

As technology advances and society demands new materials, the Warman pump is not being left behind. Weir Minerals has developed its own Internet of Things platform Synertrex, which can be fitted to a Warman pump to monitor its performance.

“The last 80 years of the Warman pump has given us a wealth of knowledge in how to operate a pump and efficiently transport slurry,” Weir Minerals data scientist Michael Hambe said. “Synertrex is going to be able to capture that wealth of knowledge and improve the product.

“Synertrex allows us to collect and analyse data to predict the pump’s performance, and determine how efficiently it’s operating. This empowers our customers to run their pump at the optimal threshold of performance.”

Since the anniversary event, Weir Minerals has embarked on a six-month campaign, sharing the history of Warman, commemorating the generations of experts behind the brand, revealing key innovations behind the pump and telling stories of long-standing pumps on sites around the world.

“In terms of Australian mining exports, the Warman pump is probably one of the great success stories,” Garib said.

Source: Weir Minerals

Thursday, 21 February, 2019 06:39am
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