Locally manufactured high-pressure globe valves for use in the power generation industry were launched last month and would be piloted by three State-owned power utility Eskom plants over an extended period in preparation for local procurement fulfilment, said advanced industrial valve manufacturer Mitech CEO Alli Alberts.
The high-pressure steam valves were manufac-tured to stringent international and local stand-ards. Each valve has only 33 components, which improve the ease of maintenance and increase the length of maintenance intervals. The valves are compatible with electric, pneumatic and manual actuation.
At least 70% of the components and materials used in the valve were locally produced and processed, with only specific components and materials not locally available imported. If local sources were developed for these components, and at the requisite quality, they too could be sourced locally, he noted.
Mitech GM Pieter Badenhorst highlighted that the company could produce the valves at export-competitive prices, with key advantages being shorter lead times that reduce the need for large inventories of spares and improve mainte- nance and repair mean time, as well as the ability to design, manufacture and dispatch custom valves for local use.
Forecasts for local demand for the valves were promising, but roll-out was currently still in the testing and validation phase by clients and customers, he added.
Local representatives of the power generation industry who attended the launch were highly engaged in the applications of the valves and in the demonstration of its assembly and disassembly by Mitech production foreman Sam Mashava.
The industry experts present asked probing questions about various technical challenges and different configurations of the valves, including ease of maintenance, use for throttling and elec- tric actuation, as well as manufacturing industry internships and jobs created by local procurement.
Badenhorst, who was also the company’s repre-sentative at industry body Valve and Actuator Manufacturers Cluster of South Africa (Vamcosa), noted the increasing role of local procurement in strengthening local manufacturing and job creation.
Local procurement regulations, introduced in 2011, required State-owned enterprises and public organisations to buy common, specialist and bulk items, products and services from local producers where possible. This channelled the spending power of government organisations and agencies to local manufacturers. It was modelled on a similar successful project in South Korea, which helped it to grow its manufacturing base sustainably.
Alberts noted that Mitech only had one apprentice currently, but higher demand would behove the company to increase its training, internships and employment, and help create jobs, especially among local suppliers.
Jobs created in manufacturing typically helped to create up to six times their number of other jobs in broader industry supply chains, noted Badenhorst.
A key challenge was for local manufacturers to achieve minimum economies of scale, and competitive prices, which required that demand volumes be robust. Export competitiveness, owing to the rand’s weakness, could help to bolster volumes, but rand weakness was an artificial stimulant and did not constitute a long-term benefit, he added.
However, local procurement supported by an industry engagement platform to allow for the resolution of challenges and technical matters would sustainably boost manufacturing and job creation in South Africa, concluded Badenhorst.