Lubricants specialist Fuchs Lubricants South Africa (Fuchs SA), together with its parent company Fuchs Petrolub, on Wednesday launched a R125-million grease manufacturing plant at its factory, in Isando, Gauteng.
The plant will allow Fuchs to manufacture specialty greases for the local market, as well as for export into Africa – 25% of Fuchs SA’s business involves exports into other African countries, particularly Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
The plant, which will produce 30 different grease products, comprises an autoclave and uses open reactor technology to manufacture grease soap, which is then finished in a number of finishing kettles.
The mining, agriculture and steel industries in South Africa are significant users of specialty greases.
Fuchs SA MD Paul Deppe said the company has seen growth in the specialty grease market in South Africa.
The plant was a three-year project, with construction taking two years. The project was a collaboration between South African and German engineers, and system and component suppliers. Consultancy DRA Global was appointed to project manage, design, procure and build the plant.
Fuchs Petrolub CEO Stefan Fuchs noted that this plant is one of the most automated and advanced grease plants in the Fuchs organisation and will inject new levels of process excellence and quality into the grease manufacturing process.
Deppe pointed out that there have been no staff redundancies as a result of the automation of the plant, but what it has done is create the need for staff with higher skills.
To this end, Fuchs selected five greasemakers, a supervisor, a maintenance engineer and a production manager, who were all sent to Germany for training.
The Fuchs SA subsidiary has about 250 employees, while Fuchs Petrolub globally has about 5 000 employees. Fuchs highlighted that the company has seen 40% employment growth in the last eight years.
Deppe concluded that Fuchs SA will continue to manufacture standard and complex thickener greases to meet the needs of customers.