Celebrating 80 years of Warman innovation
Weir Minerals celebrate the iconic slurry pump that revolutionized the mining industry
EIGHTY years have passed since Charles Warman invented the iconic Warman slurry pump, a pump that revolutionized the mining industry and continues to push the boundaries of pump performance to this day.
In honour of this legendary brand, Weir Minerals hosted an event at the end of May 2018 in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. Throughout the evening, attendees relived Warman pumps’ history and gained an insight into some of the future innovations planned.
‘It was a privilege to share this special 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 and is a product we are all very proud of. 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 over 8,000 people, and more than 150 manufacturing and service centres across the globe.’
Charles Warman (pictured) invented the Warman slurry pump in Kalgoorlie in 1938. It was a hard-wearing slurry pump that used replaceable liners and a replaceable impeller, something that had never been done before.
‘Charles Warman was a visionary and an innovator. The use of rubber lining in the pump was groundbreaking as it reduced total ownership costs, was safer to handle and offered extended wear life in many abrasive slurry applications. It is a great example of solving customer problems with material science, and is still taught in Universities today,’ said Marcus Lane, global product manager for centrifugal pumps at Weir Minerals.
The Warman slurry pump was quickly adopted throughout the goldfields in Western Australia and by the 1950s, as customer demand increased, Charles Warman expanded his business by opening offices in Sydney and Perth.
During the 1960s the rapid growth of the business continued with manufacturing and sales outlets established around the world. The Warman Series ‘A’ pump was accepted and became world leader in its field. Further work on the Warman AH pump resulted in the development of interchangeable metal and rubber wearing components.
The Warman 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 globe.
Innovations continued throughout the decades with pumps designed for a number of tough applications, including flue-gas desulphurization. In 1994 the Warman GSL pump was developed to handle high flows and corrosive slurry. It took the market by storm due to its superior performance and long life and became the global standard.
‘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. 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,’ said Mr Lane.
The Weir Group plc acquired the Warman pump in 1999, and a whole new chapter began. As part of the Weir Minerals division, a number of technological advancements were achieved for the Warman pump range.
2002 saw the development of a revolutionary new impeller and inlet design for pumping mineral froths and high-density viscous slurries, and in 2009 Weir Minerals developed the Warman WBH pump with its axial and rotationally adjustable throatbush to even out wear. Due to its innovative design, this pump soon became the new slurry pump standard.
‘Here at Weir Minerals we are always thinking of new ways to improve the Warman pump for our customers. Research and development has underpinned all of the product development that we’ve completed and is absolutely crucial to the business,’ said Mr Lane.
‘We have a fantastic understanding of the many environments in which our pumps operate and the mechanisms of wear. This has enabled us to tailor geometrics and materials to suit specific applications, and gives us a competitive edge in the marketplace.’
Today the Warman pump has an unparalleled worldwide reputation in slurry pumping, commanding a leading share of the global mining market. There are few mining sites in the world where Warman slurry pumps cannot be found.
Moreover, with technology increasing and progressing at an incredible pace, and with society demanding new materials, the Warman pump is primed and ready to provide them. Weir Minerals have developed their own Internet of Things (IoT) 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. Synertrex is going to be able to capture that wealth of knowledge and improve the product,’ said Michael Hambe, data scientist for Weir Minerals.
‘The Synertrex platform allows us to collect and analyze 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.’
Weir Minerals say their ability to come up with superior materials technology and superior designs, underpinned by superior service and support to their customers, is what keeps them one step ahead of their competitors.
‘In terms of Australian mining exports, the Warman pump is probably one of the greatest success stories. We will continue to innovate and make the Warman pump even bigger and better,’ Ricardo Garib concluded.
Following the anniversary event in Kalgoorlie, Weir Minerals have embarked on a six-month celebration, sharing the history of Warman, commemorating the generation of experts behind the brand, revealing key innovations behind the pump and telling the stories of the long-standing pumps on sites around the world.