Industrial pneumatic equipment manufacturer ATS 2000 is reporting significant demand for its high-capacity air hoists in the international oil and gas market and for industrial and marine applications, says ATS 2000 MD Glenton Rebello.
The company has manufactured four 60 t air hoists at its factory in Wynberg, Gauteng, for use on the Appomattox oil and gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Over three months, the hoists were manufactured, tested and delivered to oil and gas multinational Shell in Houston, in the US.
The air and hydraulic chain hoists, in hook-mount and monorail designs from 500 kg to 60 t, can be used in explosive environments and are EU standard ATEX Zone 1-approved.
Rebello notes that, while the US is the largest market for ATS products outside South Africa, the company has sales agents in, and supplies equipment to, Chile, South Korea (including to the Geoje marine infrastructure and ship building island), China, Australia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and Angola.
“South African engineering can compete effectively on the global stage. Our two direct competitors are a German company and a US company. Over the past five to six years, ATS has focused on growing its international exposure and has identified opportunities to grow exports.”
Apart from the hoist chains, which are made in Germany, and blank hooks, which were imported from Italy, all the components are designed and manufactured locally.
“We focus on value addition as the core component of our export strategy. While tariffs and duties, such as those impacting on steel prices, can hamper competitiveness, significant value addition makes the final product internationally competitive.”
Rebello highlights the importance of sales agents and partners in the key ATS markets of the US, China, the UK, South Korea, the UAE and Chile. He emphasises that a strong presence in a market is critical to ensuring strong demand from the market.
South African manufacturers must seize the opportunities presented by global demand; the greatest barrier to growing exports is the willingness of local companies to tackle international markets, he adds.
“Since 2012, when we saw a sustained change in demand for our equipment from mines, we have been able to grow each year because of our exports to international markets. “ATS has a permanent sales representative in Gonzales, Louisiana, in the US, and we will exhibit at the Offshore Technology Conference, in Houston, in the US, our fourth year in a row.”
The local mining and heavy industry demand is a core component of its market, but the potential for growth afforded by exporting is significantly greater than forecast local demand. The 170-person company sees almost daily enquiries from international markets, especially from the UAE, the US, China, Singapore and South Korea, he adds.
However, Rebello emphasises the critical importance of investing in manufacturing equipment to ensure that costs are reduced and international competitiveness is maintained.