Mechanical issues plague sugar crushing

A SPARE tyre from a lorry unloading harvested crop at the Penang sugar mill last Saturday fell into machinery conveying cane into the mill and caused serious damage.

This, according to mill general manger Taito Kafoa, resulted in stoppages on Saturday to allow engineers to conduct emergency repair work.

“The damage was quite substantial to cutter blades inside the mill carrier system and it also caused serious damage to other parts of the machinery as well,” Mr Kafoa said.

He added the tyre rim, which was made of very strong metal, was the reason the damage was extensive.

Lorry operators and canefarmers raised serious concerns that mechanical issues had plagued the mill’s performance since crushing began last month.

However, Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman Abdul Khan said the concerns raised by growers and farmers were not true.

“A lorry tyre assembly had accidentally fallen into the cane feeder conveyor causing damage to the cane shedder and this caused five hours of stoppage,” he said.

Mr Khan said apart from the mechnical issue caused by the tyre, cane supply over the weekends continued to be a problem.

Cane supply has been an issue for years now because of labour shortages and the fact that many labourers that are employed as canecutters are Christians who do not harvest on Sundays for religious reasons.