Danish valves producer AVK Valves, which acquired local valves company Premier Valves in 2014, is nearing the completion of a brand-new valve manufacturing facility located in Alrode, in Gauteng.
The R100-million investment includes a 1 200 m2 training facility, a 4 500 m2 office area and a 2 000 m2 logistics and warehouse space. The facility will ensure that AVK Holdings Southern South Africa is compliant with the Department of Trade and Industry’s designation law, obligating State-owned entities to buy locally manufactured products comprising 70% local content.
AVK Holdings Southern Africa chairperson Paul Hubbard notes that the company has based the local expansion on global AVK factories located in America, China, Poland and Australia.
“We have created a new factory dedicated to the manufacturing of AVK products which, before, had to be sent from Denmark and other parts of the world. With Premier Valves added to the equation, we have changed the layout of the factory, as well as improved the engineering process, while also investing in computer numerically controlled machines. AVK also has shot-blasting and coating facilities, right to the back end of the factory, which has been completely overhauled for cementation,” he states.
While the investment into the facility has exceeded the proposed R100-million mark, Hubbard avers that the investment, which currently stands at R170-million, has allowed AVK to achieve the scale and provide capacity that will meet South African requirements, as well as service the sub-Saharan Africa market.
“Our strategy for Southern Africa is focused on providing products for the water, wastewater, fire protection and gas industries. We also hope to secure a stronger market position in the industrial segments. including the mining, power, steel, pulp and paper and chemicals industries.”
Hubbard notes that the current gross domestic product (GDP) growth in industries such as mining has not been satisfactory but assures that, with a projected national growth of $2-trillion by 2050, there will still be room for the company to function within the industrial markets for many years.
“Our predominant markets remain in the water and power industries. Products in the mining industry represent around 20% of our current revenue. We are finalising our business plans and are looking to grow in each of the core markets across Southern Africa.”
Hubbard believes that AVK has been able to maintain a large export portfolio to countries in Southern Africa, owing to the company maintaining a product portfolio that includes valves from Orbinox Valves, of Spain, and Wouter Witzel Valves, of Holland.
“We recently mobilised an export sales team and they are looking at target markets reaching into Southern Africa. We have had to spend a fair bit of time to reorganise ourselves just to get our product programme and manufacturing corps in place,” he states.
As part of the 1 200 m2 training academy, AVK hopes to educate 1 500 individuals to assist across the company’s value chain as of September this year. Hubbard notes that, while there has been interest in the training programmes and manufacturing process, kinks in the programme are currently being dealt with before the commencement later in the year.
“We are busy working on the training programme for consultants, contractors and artisans to get a refined understanding of how to select, apply and install our products, while also upskilling the general workforce. We plan to make use of the programmes internally for the first few months to train our own technicians, whereafter we will roll out programmes to the public,” Hubbard says.
He adds that the main objective of the training programmes is to help employees understand how to consult and install the range of valves correctly.
“Nine times out of ten when we are called out for repairs, we see that the valves are not installed according to AVK standards. “By means of the training programme, where instructors are able to replicate conditions, we hope to eradicate incorrect installation methods. We believe, with high-quality supervision, we will be able to provide solutions instead of products alone.”
Hubbard adds that, since July 2014, AVK has created around 114 jobs, 84 of them for artisans, across the company’s value chain.
“AVK plans to provide engineering support across our subsequent sectors and by being proactive and involving all parties in the operation, we ensure that knowledge is passed over in our skills support and training,” Hubbard concludes.