Durban-based automotive component specialist Stirling Accessories has invested more than R500 000 in ecofriendly manufacturing processes that meet stringent quality, safety and South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) specifications, CEO Keith Russon tells Engineering News.
He says the investment in greener manufacturing processes over the last two years at its Westmead premises is in line with general international health and safety standards and local municipal requirements.
It has also improved the company’s efficiencies.
The ecofriendly manufacturing processes have substantially reduced Stirling’s heavy-metal solid waste, as well as its elec- tricity and water consumption, resulting in cost savings, less demand on the supply of national utilities, as well as making the processes easier to manage, states Russon.
The adaptation has also enabled the manufacturer to drastically reduce its carbon dioxide emissions and discon- tinue the use of carcinogenic agents during manufacture. For example, Stirling started using trivalent chromium-3 plating instead of the previous hexa- valent chromium-6 plating.
Further, the company has eliminated the use of trichloroethylene as a cleaning agent by replacing it with a biodegradable soap cleaner, as well as replacing cyanide-based zinc in the plating process with an alkali- based zinc. It no longer uses heavy fuel oil for the heating process and has subsequently installed a new electrically heated batch oven with an automated electronic timer.
Stirling reports that it has also installed new fibreglass tanks with automated level switches, electric heaters and temperature controllers in its plating shop to reduce freshwater and electricity consumption.
Russon says the move to greener processes has created a safer environment for employees as they now work with fewer toxic materials. The products being produced are also more environ- ment-friendly and less toxic and hazardous to the consumer.
“For example, the mirror glass used in the manufacture of mirrors is chrome-free,” he adds.Further, he notes that o
ne of the biggest challenges facing the automotive sector in South Africa is the need to combat low-quality imported components, which are readily accepted as being safe by the local market.
Russon says these inferior replacement parts, which include low-quality mirrors, lamps and reflectors, do not always meet SABS quality and safety specifications.
“It’s simple. The local market – including original-equipment manufacturers, the specialist replacement sector and general commercial users – needs to be educated about which automotive components are safe to use and why it is worth spending more to ensure optimum safety on our roads.