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Company well positioned to supply auto industry

An image of Impala Bolt and Nut’s fasteners

FASTEN IT Almost nothing can be built without fasteners, so the potential market for the company’s product is almost limitless

27th January 2023

By: Leah Shelene Asaram

Features Reporter

     

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Since the implementation of certification, approval and other government requirements for manufacturing localisation – where possible – bolts and nuts manufacturer Impala Bolt and Nut is well positioned in the fasteners market to supply the automotive industry.

Impala Bolt and Nut MD Derek Cohen says automotive original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need to ensure that all products, including fasteners, meet their specifications and quality standards.

The company has been supplying fasteners to the automotive industry since 2005, but the company decided to upgrade its Quality Management System from the industry standard ISO 9001 to the international automotive standard International Automotive Task Force, or IATF, 16949, previously known as TS 16949.

Cohen says the certification is aimed at the development of a quality management system that provides for continual improvement, emphasising defect prevention and the reduction of variation and waste.

Accredited quality certification companies are appointed to thoroughly audit all supplier systems, extensively “drilling down” into every process to ensure that they comply with the requirements of all OEMs.

“This ensured that we were able to meet the stringent requirements of our local and international customers,” adds Cohen.

Additionally, the IATF 16949 certification enables customers to have a sense of confidence in the company from which they are sourcing and in the products that they are buying.

Acquiring such a certification also resulted in the appointment of several new staff members, while all existing staff have been trained to operate within the confines of the IATF system.

Additional machinery was imported from Italy, Japan and Germany to add capacity and extend Impala Bolt and Nut’s production capabilities to include sophisticated parts – with specialised nonstandard features – that were not previously manufactured in South Africa, he notes.

"We have intentionally focused 100% of our resources on the fastener industry – including the local automotive sector. Now, with the certifications, we are able to reach international customers and provide services across the globe,” he adds.

Maintaining such a focus has enabled Impala Bolt and Nut to develop “unrivalled expertise”, and with its technical know-how and manufacturing capabilities, “the company enjoys an enviable reputation as an expert fastener manufacturer”, Cohen says.

He mentions that the demand for fasteners “will always remain”, as every system – from household appliances and passenger cars to building, construction and electronics – require some sort of fastening system.

Almost nothing can be built without fasteners, so the potential market for the company’s product is virtually limitless, states Cohen.

This includes typical mainstay industries, such as mining, construction and railways and, more recently, the renewable-energy and automotive sectors.

Cohen adds that most of Impala Bolt and Nut’s competitors in the automotive sector are either importers located in South Africa or international companies that supply directly to OEMs.

The company faces significantly higher costs than such competitors, particularly in terms of labour and energy.

“We also have to deal with factors which might be considered unusual in other countries, such as loadshedding, which have a significant impact on our pricing, resulting in a disadvantage [for us] against competitors”.

However, with some support from JSE-listed steel producer ArcelorMittal South Africa, the company is working hard to ensure that it manufactures as cost effectively as possible.

Impala Bolt and Nut is almost at its three-year recertification stage and is preparing for its yearly audit by certification company DQS, which Cohen notes as a highly regarded certification authority in the automotive sector.

Edited by Zandile Mavuso
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features

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