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New welding equipment, training significant contributors in growth strategy

PRESSURE VESSEL A typical pressure vessel produced by Efficient Engineering

EN ROUTE Efficient Engineering fabricates converters at its facility then transports them to clients

SPECIALISED FABRICATION A process column leaving the Efficient Engineering facility

2nd December 2022

By: Tracy Hancock

Creamer Media Contributing Editor

     

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To assist its growth strategy in an evolving local market space, specialist fabrication company Efficient Engineering has made a significant investment by procuring a state-of-the-art automated welding machine, from France.

Placed last month, the order is in response to increased demand for pressure vessels manufacturing on the back of a resurgence in project activity in the petrochemicals sector, following the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which also left fewer specialist fabricators available to meet demand.

Demand for pressurised equipment has also increased, owing to concerns about South Africa’s fuel security. The country has become increasingly reliant on fuel imports with the closure of certain of its refineries, placing it at greater risk of fuel supply disruptions.

The new equipment being procured by Efficient Engineering will expand the company’s existing automated welding capacity, with delivery expected to take place in February next year, Efficient Engineering COO Gary Colegate tells Engineering News.

The automated welding machine will assist the company in achieving higher levels of consistency, improving quality and productivity and, thereby, will reduce manufacturing times to allow for a faster turnaround time of orders, explains Efficient Engineering pressure vessel division manager Gerhard van Zyl.

“Welding comprises a large percentage of our product and is, therefore, critical to our offering.”

As such, the company is also focused on developing the specialised welding skills needed to meet increased demand for equipment under pressure through its veteran apprentice training programme.

The programme has been scaled up over the past five years and had 37 apprentices at its peak. Eighteen individuals are undergoing training, with that number set to grow when new recruits start the programme early next year, notes Colegate.

“We continuously train people in our type of business, developing skills in house because no one else is doing it.”

This is especially concerning, as the average age of a South African welder is 55, highlights Van Zyl, emphasising that the country’s youth are drawn to study at universities, rather than at technical and vocational education training colleges to become artisans.

Efficient Engineering retains many of the trainees who successfully complete its training programme, while the balance have been upskilled to seek gainful employment, to the benefit of local industry, says Colegate.

The company believes in continuous skills development to retain the skills it develops in staff.

Consequently, 22 Efficient Engineering supervisory and potential supervisory staff members are undertaking a six-month leadership training programme, through which they are being equipped with specific management, project management and leadership skills, in addition to the basics of finance and human resource management.

Material Matters

The company manufactures pressure equipment for the South African chemicals and petrochemicals industries from various materials, including stainless steel, duplex stainless steel and carbon steel.

“We may look internationally when certain materials are not available locally. We have no other option,” states Van Zyl.

“I still believe in supporting the local market because I expect our local clients to support us,” states Van Zyl.

In future, the company’s client base could expand through The South African Nuclear Build Platform, an approved and sustainable nuclear build procurement programme, which has identified Efficient Engineering as a potential local supplier of components outside the nuclear boundary, adds Colegate.

“The continuation of the nuclear build programme is a highly probable prospect in South Africa. We need baseload power, as renewables are not going to fill the gap. “We are considering participating in the local nuclear programme as we are familiar with the requirements to participate as a fabricator.”

With renewed interest in nuclear to address South Africa’s energy deficit and end its electricity supply crisis, Efficient Engineering is in a good position to facilitate the nuclear build through its well-equipped facilities and good standing as a reputable manufacturer.

Edited by Zandile Mavuso
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features

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