Valve imports still pressurise local industry - Savama

9th March 2007 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

The South African valve and actuator manufacturers association (Savama) has reported that little has changed in the local valve industry and market, since the beginning of last year.

Savama chairperson Ted Atkins says the market has seen a slight growth in local sales, but imports from other countries, especially the eastern countries, have taken up a larger part of the market. Atkins says there are several reasons that supports the shift to international products and names the government as a possible influence in the shift.

Atkins says government customers used to support local industry but a trend has emerged where locally supplied products are replaced with a certain amount of imported products.

The rise in costs of locally manufactured valves has been cited as the main reason for this move.

“Another factor that has to be taken into account is the fact that decision makers within the government gets replaced,” Atkins says. He adds that the experienced gained by the previous decision maker gets lost and troubles previously experienced with imported products are overlooked.

Several of Savama’s members are experiencing an upstart in business from African countries owing to the mining and industry boom currently taking place in the rest of Africa.

“The tendency there is to buy South African for security of supply and the availability of being able to get spares, as opposed to buying solely on pricing. This is perhaps something that should be reflected in the local market,” Atkins says.

“Our challenges are the same as any other manufacturing industry,” says Atkins. He states the rise in costs are mainly owing to the fact of rising steel and stainless steel prices, used in the manufacturing and casting of valves.

Like most industries, the valve manufacturing industry is also feeling the effects of the lack of skilled labour. Atkins says the rigid labour practices and excessive legislation also has a negative influence on the valve market.

Higher interest rates and slow implementation of government legislation with regards to black economic-empowerment (BEE), brings about more difficulties. “The slow implementation of the government’s BEE policy has left many of manufacturers hanging. No inspectors have been appointed and there is a general feeling of uncertainty among manufacturers,” Atkins says.

Atkins says that the major industrial developments currently taking place in South Africa, will have no great influence on Savama or its members. “We’re not really looking at 2010 with any great expectations, since construction is not a significant market for us,” Atkins says.

He adds that Savama foresees the current status of the valve industry remaining the same in the foreseeable future, with imports perhaps taking a larger share of the market.

The organisation was formed in 1974 and currently has about 80% of valves and actuator manufacturers on its member list. The valve manufacturing industry in South Africa focuses mainly on four areas namely waterworks, the mining industry, the process industry and the petrochemical industry.

TED ATKINS The valve industry has seen a slight growth in local sales, but imports have taken up a larger market share Fact box: Savama Fast Facts - Savama was formed in 1974 - Its aim is to inform the industry about the products and services provided by local valve manufacturers.

- Currently the 26 members account for about 80% of valve and actuator manufacturers in South Africa - Members include AZ valves, Dynamic Fluid Control, Dupleix Liquid Meters, Flowserve, Gunric, KSB Pumps, Rotork Africa, Spirax Sarco SA and Thermal Valve Manufacturers.

- Several members have been established in South Africa for the past 40 years and was initially distribution centres for overseas parent companies.

- Meetings of the association are held under the patronage of the Steel and Engineering Federation of South Africa (Seifsa).

- Since 1989 a training committee has presented a basic valve course, a quarter turn valve course and a control valve course.

- In June 2000 these courses were suspended in favour of a developing a new outcome based valve course.

- Working with Valves is a ten module correspondence course designed to be completed in about 50 hours over a six month period.

- The course covers all valves, including the gate valve, ball valve and butterfly valve and focuses on their applications.

- Funding for the course comes from a special training fund created by the members of Savama.