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16 October 2017

Continental acquire SA tech firm to further develop services for conveyor markets

First published13/10/2017

Continental has acquired South African company Advanced Imaging Technologies (AIT), known for x-ray and magnetic imaging-based systems used for early detecting damages in fabric and steel cord conveyor belts.

Speaking about the purchase of AIT, based in Pinetown, near Durban, Hans-Jürgen Duensing, who is responsible for the ContiTech division on the Continental Executive Board, said: “With this acquisition we added technical sensing knowledge and R&D competence to strengthen our competence in the area of predictive maintenance. At the same time it is a strategic cornerstone to enlarge our service capabilities in industries such as mining.”

AIT was founded in 2004 to provide scientific consulting services to South African industry and commerce, both in the private and public sectors. The company has specialised in developing innovative and cost-effective solutions to scientific and technical challenges experienced by large and small-scale industry and commerce. It was agreed that the purchase price would not be disclosed.

Conveyor belts keep the globalised cycle of mining, quarrying and other industry moving. “If a belt system experiences an extended downtime, the entire production chain often collapses, intensive maintenance and often repair work is required. Monitoring systems help our customers to detect damages early and thereby reduce downtimes and save maintenance costs,” explained Hannes Friederichsen, head of the business unit at Conveyor Belt Group, a ContiTech company.

AIT offers a wide variety of scientific and technical skills and expertise in the areas of image and signal processing, hardware and software development, advanced data analysis, x-ray imaging, embedded systems and system integration. “From the data obtained by the monitoring systems, our customers can benefit from innovative service offers,” said Friederichsen and added: “In the last years, Dr. Michael J. Alport and his dedicated and experienced seven-employee strong team did an excellent job. We are very pleased to welcome them to our family.”

Up until now, technicians have had to inspect an individual conveyor belt while it is stationary or running at a reduced operating speed. The advantage of permanently installed monitoring systems is that damages to conveyor belts can be detected early, whilst the system is running, and hence be repaired in good time. This leads to operators benefitting from less time consuming and less expensive downtimes.

The technology developed by AIT for international bulk-handling market uses innovative magnetic sensing technology which has been validated by extensive x-ray imaging measurements. It provides continuous online condition monitoring of steel cord-reinforced conveyor belting and reduces the risk of belt failure by providing data that is used for timely planned maintenance, thus reducing costly downtime. This technology provides a high resolution, easy-to-interpret, magnetic image of damaged or broken steel cords for the verification of potential alarm conditions. At the same time, it gives operators real-time web interactive access to review the damage locations and their severity. In addition, the splice integrity and damage severity can be monitored over time so enabling a comparison with historical data.

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