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New service centre opened to back Normet Africa’s growth

15th March 2024

By: Tracy Hancock

Creamer Media Contributing Editor

     

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To support the continued success of its African expansion, underground mining technology company Normet Africa has officially opened its custom-built 4 800 m2 service centre at the Equites industrial development, in Jet Park, Gauteng.

“We secured the rental property just over a year ago. Development of the greenfield project took ten months, and we moved in at the end of October last year,” says Normet Africa director Johan Strydom.

As Normet Africa’s new head office, the facility is eight times larger than the company’s previous service centre. This investment will deliver improved turnaround times that translate into greater uptime of underground mining operations as the company no longer needs to outsource work to third parties.

“It’s a substantial improvement in terms of warehouse space and enables us to support the Southern African region up to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with spare parts from Johannesburg. We can now also handle sea freight, which we haven’t been able to do in the past,” adds Strydom.

Significant capital was invested in the greenfield project to build and spec the facility to meet Normet Africa’s exact needs. 

Equipped with a workshop space large enough to refurbish machines, the facility is equipped with a 15 t overhead crane and six rebuild service bays. 

“The facility also has a component workshop and can handle service exchange products. These are services that we never had at our previous facility,” highlights Strydom.

In addition, the company has an in-house EFNARC-certificated shotcrete application trainer and continues to invest in equipping its service technicians with up-to-date training material and product knowledge.

Normet Africa’s new service centre also houses a state-of-the-art training facility with virtual reality capability to train its customers’ operators and provide artisans with maintenance training. 

African Advancement

Normet Africa has experienced significant growth over the past six years since deciding to expand its African footprint beyond Southern Africa.

“We achieved major successes in countries such as Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and the DRC in particular, so our footprint in Africa has really catapulted us into this growth curve that we are on currently,” Strydom tells Mining Weekly.

Normet Africa’s next growth curve is expected to come from innovative additions to its product offering, including battery electric vehicle (BEV) technology.

The company started a project involving its first BEV in the last quarter of 2023 and believes that over the next five years, underground electric equipment will be more normalised in the most advanced African mining jurisdictions.

Preparing to take advantage of BEV uptake, Normet Africa is focused on the internal development of its existing service personnel. Strydom emphasises that it is already a struggle to find good service technicians for traditional diesel vehicles, with global demand for BEV technicians growing. 

The company intends to aggressively expand its presence in the South African market after achieving Level 4 black economic empowerment compliance in February.

In the rest of Africa, Normet Africa has established growth nodes through dealer partnerships or by establishing a direct in-country presence to improve its proximity to its customers, as well as meet stringent localisation requirements.

“We are supported by three dealer partners. A French-speaking dealer services Francophone countries in West Africa, while the second is responsible for northeast Africa – Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea – and the third dealer supports Botswana, Namibia and, historically, the DRC,” says Strydom.

Last year, Normet Africa established a branch in the DRC – in addition to its branches in Accra, Ghana and Zambia – and is investigating the viability of opening a branch in Botswana.

Effective Service 

Entering into service agreements with its customers to support its technology and ensure that an efficient and cost-effective supply chain is in place is Normet Africa’s ideal business model, says Strydom.

“A direct presence on a mine site, being part of the operations, enables real-time communication with our own people on the ground and makes the difference in terms of improved turnaround and uptime.

“Having a Normet Africa technician on site means when there’s a breakdown we can already start checking spares availability in Johannesburg or at Normet’s central distribution warehouse in the Netherlands. Consequently, we can have the spare part ready to ship to site as soon as the order number is received from a customer’s procurement department.”

The service agreement model is just one of the reasons to do business with Normet Africa, which leverages its global relationships as part of Finland-headquartered Normet group to the benefit of its customers while offering high-quality, technologically competitive equipment.

The company is also transparent and realistic about lead times to avoid disappointing its customers, further setting Normet Africa apart from its competitors, concludes Strydom.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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