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Company diversifying its international portfolio

A RARE SIGHT Lack of investment is the reason behind the slump in the industry, and the lack of capital projects

A RARE SIGHT Lack of investment is the reason behind the slump in the industry, and the lack of capital projects

11th August 2023

By: Bridget Lepere

Creamer Media Reporter

     

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The Dickinson Group of Companies (DGC) is finalising plans to expand and diversify the product and service offering of its subsidiary, industrial solutions provider DGC Africa, says DGC chairperson Trevor Dickinson.

DGC Africa, based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), intends to launch fully fledged procurement services to mining clients, in collaboration with a large European company with offices in Asia.

Dickinson notes that DGC Africa is mainly focused on its catalyst handling process services for the management of sulfuric acid produced during copper operations in copper mines in the DRC.

It

has secured several projects, which are currently under way, he adds.

DGC Africa will also focus on maintenance services, with the company providing site-wide services in the DRC and although it will not offer the full range of maintenance services just yet, it is working towards this goal.

“The one offering we’re paying much attention to is asset integrity management software solutions, in partnership with a tech company. The software and technologies will assist large mining and manufacturing companies in monitoring their assets and allow for . . . better preventive maintenance.”

DGC and its subsidiaries realise that technology can enhance its offering: “. . . we want to provide a fully integrated multidisciplinary service and form strategic partnerships with our clients by helping them monitor their assets,” says Dickinson.

Meanwhile, DGC is also in talks with a company looking to leverage the localisation partnership business model to potentially create another franchise in Madagascar.

The company would trade as DGC Madagascar, taking advantage of the DGC’s well-known and trusted brand.

The localisation model aims to benefit from local expertise and resources by partnering with well-established and -connected franchisees, with a strong customer base to customise services that meet market needs.

“The target countries we're looking at have large amounts of mining and mineral processing and investments in large asset and manufacturing industries,” adds Dickinson.

DGC has also established DGC LATAM as a joint venture with a Brazilian company. The company is targeting large mining and mineral processing countries in the region, such as Brazil and Argentina, to entrench itself in the iron and steel industries.

“We're also looking at other industries, such as cement and glass manufacturing, as well as copper and metal smelting, which are big in Brazil, as well as Chile, Peru and Colombia,” he adds.

Shortage of Skills, Development

Dickinson notes that while the availability of skilled people is a global concern, and particularly problematic in the DRC, DGC Africa is in discussions with various institutions and mining companies to establish training facilities.

He points out that DGC’s workforce in Zambia mostly comprises locals and that it intends to adopt the same business model in the DRC, prioritising the upliftment and training of local personnel rather than employing expatriates.

He does not regard government as a proponent of skills development, as the regulation of work permits limits the access or availability of the appropriate skills, making it difficult for companies to appoint technically competent people.

“I find that outside South Africa it is generally easier, as the business landscape is fairly different. In countries such as Zambia and the DRC, there are a lot more Indian and Chinese companies supplying their skilled people . . . However, the challenge lies in these countries not being able to bring about transformation or enable the upliftment of locals through skills development.”

Trends in the Manufacturing Industry
The South African manufacturing industry is experiencing a dip and has been shrinking progressively, amid less investment in large industrial manufacturing for steel, glass and metals companies, says Dickinson.

This outcome has forced companies to shift their focus to ensure the maintenance of existing facilities to extend their longevity, rather than implementing capital expenditure projects.

In addition, electricity supply challenges are impacting on productivity, placing significant pressure on manufacturing companies in the country, and resulting in businesses exploring growth options outside the country.

The DGC’s diverse multidisciplinary approach is what makes the company unique, compared with its predominantly furnace- service-providing counterparts, adding that it aims to provide a more holistic offering, a “one-stop solution shop”, for clients.

Artificial intelligence is slowly increasing in the heavy manufacturing industry and the inclusion of technology will proliferate in future, he adds.

“It will help large manufacturing companies improve their efficiency, monitor their production facilities and ensure that they manage their assets better by enabling proper equipment diagnostics,” Dickinson concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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