The Dickinson Group Anchor Division takes delivery of new AFM 3D CNC wire bending machine to manufacture refractory anchor systems

The company, based in Vereeniging, Gauteng, manufactures and installs anchor systems for all types of monolithic, ceramic fibre and brick refractory linings.

The company has been manufacturing these anchors for 30 years. The manufacture of the anchor systems was done by the labour intensive and time-consuming method of using two 60 ton eccentric presses and one 10 ton hydraulic press. Because of the workshop always being under pressure to get product out, management looked at improving production efficiencies and in 2006 decided to go the CNC route and purchased a Robomac CNC wire forming machine with an automatic decoiler. The machine was ideal for prototype, short and medium run requirements and capable of forming wire from 4 to 12 mm.

However, since the introduction of the CNC machine production soared, so much so that it put pressure on further down the production line. For example a run that previously took two days to manufacture now only takes 12 hours, depending on the actual anchor type.

Excess capacity
“The machine exceeded our expectations and we were able to offer the excess capacity to outside clients, other engineering companies that need wire formed,” said company director Miles Simpson.

“Our production of anchors can reach up to 1,5 million a year which equates to about 90 tons of material. 98% of the product is made up of stainless steel grades 253 MA, 304, 316 and 310, all of which is imported because the local mills do not produce these grades,” Simpson stated.


“We have now reached a point where the growing focus in plant automation, in a bid to enhance productivity, reduce downtime and conserve energy, has caught up with us and our eight year old machine either needed to be upgraded at great cost, or we needed to take the decision to invest in a new machine that has evolved with the technology over the years.”

New AIM 3D CNC wire bending machine
“In August we took delivery of a new 3D13-T CNC wire bending machine, a well-known model in the wire forming industry, capable of high precision repeatability, fast output and low cost maintenance. The effective capacity from 4 mm to 12 mm provides us with superior flexibility and competiveness in the marketplace and allows us near instant production of any part, whenever needed.”

“The completely automated work cell takes wire from coil, forms it according to the tooling and systematically arranges the finished parts. In all instances, wire can be fed directly from a coil, straightened, bent and cut using a software package that provides flexibility and simplicity in programming and is offered in all ‘universal languages’. Backup is offered from an office in Athens and Chicago and also through a web cam and direct link over the internet.”

The machine has been supplied by Automated Industrial Machinery (AIM), a US manufacturer of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional CNC bending machinery based in Chicago, Illinois. It is the first machine to be installed in Southern Africa by AIM Inc. a company that manufactures 35 models of 2D and 3D CNC benders, including single head benders and double head benders.

Refractory anchor systems as described by the experts
A method for lining furnace walls with insulation is provided where a plurality of hanger assemblies, which are elongated lengths of metal, support members each having a plurality of elongate studs secured to one surface in a predetermined spaced alignment, and which extend perpendicularly from the surface of the support member, and are positioned over the surface of a furnace wall by first securing one length of the metal support members horizontally adjacent the top end of a furnace wall, and then sequentially vertically positioning other lengths of the metal support members on the furnace wall with the spaced aligned elongate studs extending from the surface of the support members in vertical alignment, with an elongate stud extending from the surface of the horizontally positioned support member.

The Dickinson Group
The Dickinson Group was established in 1910 and has been successfully trading in the specialised field of refractories since then. The company has been involved in the initial construction and shutdown projects on the smelters and process units of most of the major mining and smelter companies in Southern Africa, and has expanded its projects business internationally into East Africa and exported refractory precast shapes and equipment to numerous countries around the globe.

The Group head office is in Vereeniging and is made up of a number of different companies all serving the mining, smelter, mineral processing and metallurgical refractory consuming industries. It has offices in Maputo, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and Zambia.

The Anchor Division has also been the African agents for the drawn arc and capacitor discharge range of stud welding equipment manufactured by Taylor Stud Welding Systems (UK) for 20 years, and Soyer (Germany) stud welding equipment and steel fibre reinforcement products for seven years.

For further details contact The Dickinson Group Anchor Division on TEL: 016 421 3720, email or visit