Air Products has invested more than R90-million into a centrally located dissolved acetylene facility in Midvaal and decommissioning its two existing plants in Kempton Park, in Gauteng, and Pinetown, in KwaZulu-Natal.
The company officially unveiled the new central facility on Thursday.
The aim of centalising its acetylene manufacturing was to create a single production facility with improved technology and processes and to establish a secure supply and improved customer service with increased capacity.
The strategic decision forms part of the company’s culture of continually improving its facilities, safety, process and service delivery.
The facility boasts the latest and highest standard of global dissolved acetylene facility trends, to produce high-quality gas in a safe, timeous and environmentally sustainable manner.
It was designed in house by an Air Products team that has been involved with the design management and operations of other local facilities for several years.
Dissolved acetylene, mainly used for cutting, is a colourless, flammable gas manufactured by a chemical reaction between calcium carbide and water. Owing to the nature of the gas manufacturer’s business, Air Products focuses keenly on safety in all processes, which will be implemented in the day-today operation at this facility as well.
This investment forms part of the company’s ethos of investing in new technology and processes to remain competitive, indicated Air Products MD Rob Richardson at the unveiling.
The company’s investment pipeline over the past few years encompassed R2-billion, with the most recent projects being its Vanderbijlpark facility’s ‘G-Plant’, and the air separation unit launched in the eastern cape in 2014.
This new facility is an additional investment, Richardson informed. He enthused that this is a long-term investment, which will improve the company’s business and that reinforces its commitment to the country.
Midvaal executive mayor Bongani Baloyi applauded Air Products’ decision to build the facility in the Midvaal area. He said this was and would be a mutually beneficial relationship, as Midvaal is centrally located for the company and facilitates ease of business and operation, while the company’s business activities will boost the economy of the area.
Meanwhile, Air Products has entered into an enterprise development initiative with an empowerment company to install a solar energy project at the facility in the near future.