South Africa’s subdued economic growth has been well recorded – even prior to the pandemic, says industrial equipment supplier Verder Pumps South Africa MD Darryl Macdougall.
Taking into account what the impact of the pandemic will be on expected real gross domestic product growth for this year, he tells Engineering News that many businesses operating in South Africa are, therefore, faced with compounding pressures.
These pressures include balancing costs, managing cash flows and planning with return on investment, while trying to maximise operations for profitability.
Additionally, while the frequency and intensity of load-shedding has not been on the same level as that of the late 2000s, intermittent load-shedding still impacts on business planning and operations.
“Given that many businesses are still trying to recoup the potential losses of the earlier phases of the lockdown, this remains a top-of-mind concern and a challenge for many,” Macdougall notes.
However, lessons learnt from the pandemic have shown that industrial sectors such as mining, agroprocessing and manufacturing remain key contributors to the economy and country. Therefore, renewed strategies and collaboration among all stakeholders are required to address and resolve these challenges, wherever possible, and promote a more productive and profitable environment with direct and indirect benefits for all stakeholders and the economy.
“We have seen a slowdown in the pumps market this year, which has been a direct impact on client and market demand, with client operations having been affected by the ebbs and flows of activity through the various alert levels of the lockdown measures.
“Additionally, the prevailing challenges in market conditions and the economic performance in the country have, on many levels, all been exacerbated by the impacts of the pandemic.”
Owing to the nature of their business, many Verder clients needed to remain operational during the various levels of the lockdown. Macdougall highlights that Verder Pumps was categorised as a critical service, and has consequently continued trading and serving clients throughout all phases of the lockdown.
“We decided early on – prior to the official and initial lockdown – to enable all our sales and support staff to work remotely. We also took proactive steps to ensure the safety of our staff working in our distribution and service hub at our office in Johannesburg.”
Although 2020 has been an economically tough year globally, and marred by a constant changing context, Macdougall says it has also been a transformative year for those businesses that have proactively embraced change and have also shown an appetite to take risks based on long-term planning.
For example, within its global business, Verder Group has continued to invest in research and development, and launch new products into the market, “showing that even the pandemic cannot halt the company’s commitment to excellence”.
The first new arrival was the iDura – launched in September, in line with Electra Mining Connect Week – which is an expansion on the popular range of Verderflex Dura peristaltic hose pumps.
The company also launched the new Verder HI-Clean AODD and EODD pumps earlier this month, with more announcements planned heading into 2021.
Verder will offer a range of sizes for the Verder HI-Clean AODD and EODD pumps, which are available from 1 inch to 3 inchesfor various applications and in industries such as food manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, says Verder Pumps South Africa hygienic pump sales specialist Sidney Cowley.
“The chief benefit of this new range is ease of maintenance, with these pumps having fewer parts for disassembly and being fully hygienic in terms of accessibility and cleanability. This consequently leads to less risk of bacterial build-up or cross contamination of a product once the pump is cleaned. The EODD models are also energy efficient and quieter.”
Clients, therefore, have access to pumps of the highest quality that meet the certified standards of their food and pharmaceutical manufacturing and processing applications, Cowley tells Engineering News.
Verder followed this approach owing to the increasing standards globally in food safety and hygiene, where technology and quality of product are key.
Meanwhile, Verder has focused its business and growth strategy locally on expanding its distribution partnership and channel networks.
Macdougall explains that the company has onboarded several new distribution partners, including exclusive agreements with distributors for the North West and Mpumalanga and another distributor that operates in Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
All the distribution partners have been selected after careful review of the core of their business offerings, their footprint and the potential customer base in the geographical areas that they service, he concludes.