Petter Nilsen and machine builder Jan Berg from HBM AB recently visited the lab at ENRX in Skien, Norway, to discuss the interface between the ENRX equipment and the EX360. At the moment, they are eagerly awaiting the delivery of a number of Sinac 18/25 induction heating generators.
“Obviously, it is possible to buy induction solutions from several companies, but it was a deciding factor that ENRX has local production here in Scandinavia and that they can provide global service and support to installations around the world”, the pair say. “Besides, their offer was the best, and they provided us with a lot of help in equipping and testing.”
The new Sinacs will be delivered soon, but Jan and Petter are joking that they wouldn’t mind taking a few with them in the back of the car as they drive back to Sweden. They are impatient to get the operation up and going.
So, how does this extraction unit of theirs actually work?
“In the production phase we use induction to shrink fit the inserts into the drill bit”, Petter explains. “So I thought, why not turn the process on its head and use induction to remove them as well?”
The drill bits are literally turned upside down and vibrated while the steel is heated to 850 degrees. Within seconds the tungsten inserts effortlessly fall out. "
“Safety is a very important aspect of this”, Jan adds. “You really can’t compare it to the old manual process, which is both slow and labour-intensive. This is much safer!”
Once the tungsten is retrieved, the inserts are transported to Sandvik’s recycling facility, Wolfram Bergbau und Hütten, where they are processed with a method developed by Wolfram.
“We’re not scrap dealers”, Jan grins. “The recycled material is as good as new, and it can be used for a full range of products.”
“Indeed! Sandvik’s Mining and Rock Solutions team has come up with ways to recycle the materials back into making new products for drilling”, Petter adds. “The recycled tungsten can be used to make new carbide inserts, which provides a circular production cycle and creates a self-sustaining supply chain.”
The environmental advantages are numerous. First of all, the need for virgin material is reduced and that in turn reduces production, energy consumption, transport and CO2 emissions. Additionally, the separation process can be done locally, reducing the business risk of outside dependencies in the supply chain as well as the need for supplier auditing.
“This is just the beginning”, Petter says. “We are creating the future here, and we’re probably going to need a lot more induction heaters in the years to come. We’re going to need special coils as well, so we’re probably looking at a long-term relationship with ENRX.”
“We would absolutely love to keep on supporting Sandvik in this endeavour”, says Sales Engineer Jari Koski, who is ENRX’s representative in Sweden. “Green values and sustainability are driving them, and this dovetails perfectly with our own values and ambitions. The solution is brilliant, and we can imagine how it will take off in the mining industry.”