Heavy duty auto-electrical solutions save lives

Inside Southern Africa’s largest, single-source supplier of heavy-duty, auto-electrical components and collision avoidance systems


Established in 1991 by Eddie Smith, Trysome is well represented country-wide with its head office in Jet Park, Boksburg and branches in Middelburg, Cape Town, Durban, Kathu and Rustenburg. Across the border, Trysome operates branches in Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana.

Trysome is focused on sourcing OEM and specialised auto-electrical, replacement components, associated technical services and collision avoidance systems for operators of heavy-duty automotive, earth-moving, construction, agricultural, transport and mining machinery.

In addition to sourcing, Trysome is committed to the development and innovation of auto-electrical and safety products. The Company’s state-of-the-art technology, in collision avoidance and safety systems, has already been adopted by, and is operational in, many of Southern Africa’s mines.

What do you see as the challenges and opportunities in your industry?

As with all businesses in the mining ‘ecology’, and the global economy for that matter, the uncertainty of the mining charter coupled with volatile exchange rates affect mid- to long-term planning. We strive for clarity and political certainty in order to realign our business as strategic partners to the sector.

Amidst the challenges there are always opportunities for the astute which for Trysome come in the form of the demand for new technologies coupled with the industry’s focus on safety. With the DMR having promulgated new laws in 2015 making Proximity Detection compulsory on all TMM and the pending fail-to-safe legislation deadline in June 2019, which requires automatic braking should an operator ignore all Proximity Detection warnings, Trysome is well placed to assist the mining sector to meet these targets.

With the South African mining sector in some disarray (Mining Charter for e.g.), how do you continue to trade? Does it require new strategies?

Long before formalised transformation, Trysome embraced inclusivity and diversity in its management structure as well as recruitment and buying policies believing in the benefits of a multicultural approach to business in alignment with many large corporates and parastatals who were moving in the same direction. We pride ourselves in being a forward-thinking enterprise and restructured our shareholding to incorporate a 30% black strategic business partner, Mr Kuseni Dlamini of KDI Mining, well in advance of legislation. Kuseni is a renowned South African businessman with a very impressive CV which includes executive and chairmanship roles in the mining and associated sectors in which we trade.

Kuseni is a graduate of both the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban (BA (Honours) Degree) and Oxford University (Masters - Philosophy) where he was a Rhodes Scholar. While Kuseni currently operates in the Accounting, Banking and Finance Sector, prior to 2009 he was the Head of Anglo American’s South Africa operations, held the position of Executive Chairman of Richards Bay Coal Terminal Company (RBCT), and a number of senior positions at Anglo Gold Ashanti and De Beers Consolidated in South Africa and the United Kingdom. He is currently active in professional bodies which include the South African Institute of International Affairs and the Advisory Board of Wits Business School, and has proven to be a huge asset to Trysome and a perfect strategic fit within the executive team.

Which of your products are specific to the mining industry?

With a 27-year history of trading in the mining sector, our total basket of products and services are aligned to mining. We have used our broad and deep Southern-African footprint, relationships built over decades and in-depth research of the total mining vehicle fleet to achieve a product and service mix that ‘Keeps Africa’s Resources Moving’. Trysome has developed strong partnerships with world-renowned brands to bring to market only the highest-quality OE products. These partnerships include Remy Inc. (Delco Remy brand), the world’s largest manufacturer of starters, alternators and their components as well as Nordic Lights, manufacturer of a vast range of original equipment and after-market, work-light units used extensively in underground, construction and mining equipment.

On the collision avoidance side Trysome partners with Preco (emergency lighting), PreView (radars), Q2 (rear-vision camera & monitor systems) and Swiss-based SAFEmine to make visible all those obstacles in traditional blind spots. Other world-renowned brands represented by Trysome include: Alfatronix, Cole Hersee, Deutsch, Energizer, Flir, Flosser, Iconiq, Littelfuse, National Plastics & Rubber, Nikko, Phillips, Prestolite/Leece Neville, Sy-Klone and Tyrecop. Trysome has brought tangibility to its corporate promise of ‘Keeping Africa’s Resources Moving Safely’ through the launch of innovative technologies and DMR- compliant safety solutions specifically targeting the human-element challenges of mining. With all new product innovations, our focus has been on maintaining maximum up time while reducing cost and ensuring the safety of a business’ most valuable asset - people.

What are your commitments to health and safety, and the significance of your Collision Avoidance System?

At Trysome, we have been living the safety ethos since inception in 1991 and were integral in the development of the Swiss-manufactured SAFEmine Collision Avoidance System here in South Africa in 2008. We boast a comprehensive range of SAFEmine Collision Avoidance systems and solutions which are fully compliant with the DMR’s new Trackless Mobile Machinery (TMM) safety regulations which came into effect in May 2015. The development and application of systems that can protect drivers and operators from collisions in busy surface mines, particularly where large haul trucks are interfacing with smaller vehicles and personnel, has been a major industry focus for years.

Please tell me about some of Trysome’s new product developments?

The Rencool BCA-6 Anti-Idle Air-Conditioners keep the cab cool while the engine is shut down. This unit utilises the factory cabin evaporator on 24-volt electric or from the factory engine drive compressor. With the engine shut down, the BCA-6 unit takes over the cooling duty powered from AUX or upgraded factory batteries depending on runtime needed. Fuel calculations done from the BCA-6 series have proven to impact major changes to mining site operations in regards to fuel saving, carbon emissions and service intervals while improving operator comfort and productivity.

I hear your Fire Suppression System is vital for protecting high-value assets, please elaborate.

Designed for simple installation, often very near the source of potential fire, FIRETRACE is a self-activating suppression system that reliably suppresses fires in seconds. FIRETRACE systems can be installed in virtually any enclosed space where high-value assets are located or where an increased risk of fire could be mitigated by an automatic fire suppression system. The effectiveness of a genuine FIRETRACE system comes from the proprietary, polymer tubing that will rupture when exposed to a flame. This specialised FIRETRACE Detection Tubing combines leak resistance, flexibility, durability and precise temperature sensitivity, allowing it to react quickly when heat from a fire is present. This detection tubing connects to custom engineered valves and a FIRETRACE cylinder that contains the best fire suppression agent for a particular hazard. Most of our product range is available for both Open-cast and Underground mining applications.

What specific custom-designed, or modified, products for Africa have been requested? Have any such requests resulted in a product being added to your general sales list?

In addition to the SAFEmine suite of collision avoidance and safety products mentioned earlier in this article, over the years we have been requested to develop or source many diverse products which ultimately cater to a specific mining-related issue be it safety, increasing productivity, reducing downtime, saving fuel, automating certain functions to compensate for human error, handling hazardous materials or dealing with the risk of fire in small enclosed spaces. Having been in business for over 27 years, the list is endless but I would specifically like to mention a few of our major successes.

Examples of products that we have sourced, refined or engineered:

  • Battery Power Packs
  • DPCu, Digital Switching...the next generation in vehicle power management! Bringing you a compact, lightweight and flexible solution to automatic monitoring and control of all electronic systems within your fleet.
  • Aluminium and Steel-housing Mine Spec. Light Bars
  • Lock-out Boxes
  • Test Stations for Collision Avoidance Technology
  • Audible Park Brake Alarms
  • Lighting Plants
  • Battery Charging and Storage Bays - a fully custom-fitted and insulated container rigged out with Smart Chargers and all health and safety requirements including eye-bath, correct drainage, safety lighting, roller shelving, temperature regulation, associated PPE and all safety regulation signage. The battery bay is delivered and positioned on site and is often managed by Trysome’s Field Auto Electricians via an official Man-on-Site contract
  • Isolation Units
  • Remote Controls for the operation of underground mining equipment

We believe this ability to offer custom solutions to the mining sector to be one of our major USP’s with flexible manufacturing taking place either in our TMT workshop or on the customer’s site and fitting and testing taking place either in The ConneXion, Trysome’s fitment workshop, or on the customer’s site. Trysome offers a full-house, auto-electrical service inclusive of product sourcing or manufacture, distribution, remanufacturing, fitment/installation, servicing and full maintenance via official Man-on-Site (MOS) contracts. Our official MOS contracts range from 12/24V maintenance contracts, heavy-duty, air-con service and maintenance contracts to the maintenance of the full SAFEmine Collision Avoidance System and ancillary product range which includes TrackingRadar, Personnel Tagging and Fatigue Monitoring. Trysome warrants that all products will be covered for manufacturing faults provided that they are used only for those purposes specified by the manufacturer. Trysome also advises and recommends that in order to ensure warranty cover, all parts should be fitted by a qualified auto electrician.

Is training specific to your mining products?

Trysome operates its own in-house training department where, in addition to a full Auto-Electrical apprenticeship program where we take on between 5 and 10 new apprentices annually, we also offer basic auto-electrical skills training to our customer’s workshop personnel and operators of their TMM. This training is done in a multifaceted way via job shadowing on site, hands-on training in Trysome’s remanufacturing workshop and theoretical training in our ‘classroom’. This allows for quick fault finding in the field and minimises downtime keeping productivity at maximum capacity.

On our SAFEmine Collision Avoidance and Safety suite of products training is quite different and multi-tiered. As this is an A-Class hazard product training is intensive and includes all stakeholders to a varying degree from the unions, mine engineers and workshop foremen to the equipment operators and train the trainers. Training is packaged and includes an informational DVD and poster series, one-on-one operator training with supporting training material (pocket guides, window stickers and posters), induction DVDs for contractors and visitors to the mine and intensive train-the-trainer programmes. In some instances we also run skills transfer contracts for a prescribed period. All SAFEmine trainers undergo intensive, accredited, two-tiered training themselves at the manufacturer’s plant in Switzerland.

Please describe the level of your engineering expertise, adoption of engineering global trends, and standards applied in manufacture.

We have a good complement of fully qualified electric and electronic engineers whose main focus is fault finding, accident report analysis, product enhancement, customisation and development of existing products. To ensure that we employ the latest and best engineering skills we have also developed an alliance with a reputable university where we source scholars for bursaries and future employment.

Where do you see your business expanding the most (mining-related), and does this require setting up new offices, acquisitions, mergers, new partnerships, and if so please describe the criteria for such.

Business expansion will come from balancing safety improvements and sustained production. Keeping Africa’s Resources Moving Safely is Trysome Auto Electrical (Pty) Ltd’s corporate promise and contribution to Africa’s economy. While economic growth, environmental protection and social responsibility, three of the key pillars for the sustainable development of mining in the 21st century, are foundational to Trysome’s product and service offering, current and future product developments align heavily with social responsibility.

The sustainable development of mining is the key to the security of raw materials and energy for many countries in the world with Africa being one of the countries with the raw materials which are deemed “critical” raw materials for the economy from the point of view of the European Union. While mining entities strive for sustainable development, Trysome, through its strategic partnerships, strive to improve the safety of the employees with a focus on a safer working environment.

In support of employee safety, favourable changes have occurred in mining legislation. As mentioned earlier, in an effort to prevent accidents involving trackless mobile machines (TMM) and pedestrians in the mining industry, South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has established safety regulations compelling surface mines to install ‘fail to safe’ methods of retarding the TMM to a safe speed where after the brakes of the TMM are automatically applied by June 2019. It is only a matter of time before other progressive African countries follow suit. It is the focus of Trysome’s marketing and research department to stay abreast of all new ‘cuts’, explorations and developments as well as new legislation both domestically and across the continent.

Are collisions something the mining industry struggles with? If so, why is that, what measures can be introduced to prevent such?

Collisions involving mining equipment are a significant concern for all mining operations. Most often these incidents result in damaged equipment and downtime for repairs. However, severe incidents can involve injuries and even loss of life. New legislation in South Africa, and proposed in many other countries, also reflects these concerns as rules are proposed that will require collision avoidance technology at mine sites. Technologies have been developed to help prevent these incidents and studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of existing systems, the costs associated with implementation, and the long-term benefits for mining operations. A typical collision avoidance system will include the SAFEmine main unit with associated antenna, rear-view cameras, radars, and sometimes a fatigue monitor.

Trysome has represented the SAFEmine Collision Avoidance and Traffic Awareness System in the sub-Saharan African region since 2008. Today, the system is running in over 20,000 mining vehicles in more than 45 mines worldwide with many mines reporting significant improvements. The costs associated with collision incidents extend beyond the obvious. The impact of a serious injury or fatality at a mining operation is widespread. Long after the formal investigation has been completed, the workers, families, surrounding communities, and the mining company continue to feel the effects. Thus, not all direct and indirect costs associated with an incident can be accurately quantified.

While every step is being taken legislatively and technologically to improve employee safety while at the same time ensuring a balance between the costs of safety improvements and sustained production, management still plays an integral role regarding safety in the mines, as the human factor is still a frequent cause of accidents taking place. Work organisation, training of employees, and formation of safe behaviour are of vital importance.

Mining is usually sited in remote areas. How do you deliver your products to those projects, and does such require a level of infrastructure that may not exist? What might be the problems you need to contend with in terms of delivery?

From inception, we have strategically positioned our branches in the communities where mining operations develop. In this way we are able to provide our service and product offering to the mine speedily while uplifting the immediate community through creating employment, uplifting fledgling local businesses through local procurement, growing job opportunities through skills transfer, formal apprenticeship programmes and bursaries.

With a Southern African technical fleet in excess of 150, our operation is not restricted to the locality of our bricks and mortar. Where the need arises, we are able to quickly and seamlessly set up mobile offices on the customer’s site for a prescribed period, making use of consignment/critical stock warehouses based on the customer’s specific fleet and technical requirements. We have also sent specialist technical teams into the DRC, Burkina Faso, Ghana and the like so there really are no ‘borders’ to our product and service offering. An added advantage is that our auto-electricians are cross-skilled in the disciplines of heavy-duty, air-conditioning, fire suppression and Collision Avoidance Systems installation, fault finding, servicing and maintenance.


B.V. Elsevier

The Journal of Sustainable Mining

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