An innovative and environmentally aware system for high-capacity heavy transportation as been developed by the South African company Milotek Pty Ltd: a modular elevated track with self-propelled trains. The Futran System creatively utilizes high-strength steel in several different parts of the structure. Milotek is one of four finalists for this year’s Swedish Steel Prize. The Swedish Steel Prize is awarded annually by SSAB, the global leader in high-strength steel and wear plate, to recognize the most innovative and creative products and solutions utilizing high-strength steels. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Stockholm on November 19.
The Futran System is a new, environmentally aware, suspended transportation system that provides a cost-effective, flexible alternative to traditional rail, truck, conveyor belt and even underground mine haulage systems, for example. High-strength steels Strenx 700 and Hardox 450 from SSAB are utilized in components, such as the track, the legs of the superstructure, the suspension system, the hanger brackets as well as the skips used for ore haulage. The Futran System demonstrates well many of the advantages of high-strength steels: low total weight, high load capacity, high wear resistance, good bendability, weldability and machinability.
“High transportation costs were the main reason for us to start looking for new alternatives. Our system is suspended in the air. The train and the wagons are hanging from an elevated rail supported by vertical posts. It has few moving parts and modularized components with a simplified design and minimized maintenance costs. It is easier to install than most modern day transportation systems. From the very beginning we saw the possibilities that high-strength steel offers. For example, the cost of the suspension system can be cut by 85 percent. In future, we want to use the Futran System also for human transportation,” says Andries Louw, founder and CEO of Milotek.
Two prototypes have been built so far, but many companies have shown interest and there are currently first projects already underway. One of these is being projected at a coalmine in Mozambique. The line will be about 5 km long and will use approximately 1,500 tonnes of steel. Yet another 12 km project is about to commence in South Africa and in Botswana a 7 km long line should become operational during 2016.
First awarded in 1999, the Swedish Steel Prize exists to inspire and increase knowledge about the use of high-strength steel to develop lighter, safer and more sustainable products.
The winner of the Swedish Steel Prize will receive a stipend of SEK 100,000 and a trophy by Jörg Jeschke. The award ceremony is part of a three-day event at which approximately 600 international representatives from the global manufacturing and steel industry will participate in seminars and site visits at SSAB.