Two decades of concerted investment in subsidiaries across Africa gives minerals processing equipment specialist Multotec a world class foundation from which to serve mines.
Multotec MD Jaco du Toit highlights that mining companies in Africa expect not only the highest performance from equipment, but also rapid access to quality support services.
“Our extensive footprint on the continent – rolled out systematically since 2002 – puts us close to our customers. Notably from 2010, we focused consciously on establishing Multotec-owned subsidiaries capable of executing local field service maintenance support in key countries,” he says.
Fully functional subsidiaries in Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Ghana employ over 200 local people. Beyond its traditional southern African base, Multotec’s network extends into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Guinea, Sierra Leone, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.
A third of Multotec’s turnover is generated through branches and partners in African countries outside South Africa.
“Our expansion revolves around our customers, staff and communities, and our subsidiaries bring an understanding of the business and cultural environment in a region,” du Toit says.
“Recognising the importance of first language in effective communication, we employ local people who speak to customers in their own language, and we train and develop these teams to provide world class service.”
Each subsidiary has fully equipped workshops for fabrication, strategically aligned to the product footprint in that region. In Botswana, the facilities allow functions such as steel fabrication, assembly, surface preparation and ceramic tiling to be conducted locally.
In Mozambique, work includes cyclone fabrication and refurbishment, light engineering fabrication and HDPE pipe installations and welding. Multotec’s localisation strategy is to partner with 100% locally owned subcontractors to assist with assembly, surface preparation and fabrication.
“Wherever we can, we look for opportunities to conduct fabrication locally, based on our stringent design quality and specialised support from our South African head office,” he says.
Technical excellence is supported by ongoing technological innovations, such as three-dimensional (3D) scanning of equipment in remote areas as part of the design process.
The skilled maintenance and field service personnel based at Multotec’s local subsidiaries is focused on maintenance contracts, condition monitoring and installations.
In addition to the local expertise, specialist support is always available from head office; Multotec specialists and service support teams travel over 250 000 km yearly to support customers around Africa.
Another vital part of the strategy has been skills development, and Multotec prioritises training of its people especially in management, after sales support and preventative maintenance.
Local sub-contractors are an integral part of this training programme, which also includes customer employees and distributors and agents in areas where there are no subsidiaries.
“This has given us a network with a strong knowledge base where stakeholders are thoroughly familiar with our equipment, its applications and service requirements.”
A key Multotec asset is its training centre, providing a range of skills development interventions. Technical workshops are held in various African countries, both in English and French. Regular workshops are also offered online, often attracting larger numbers than physical events.
Alongside the training and skills development value added to its host countries, Multotec engages closely with local communities to make its socio-economic development contribution.
“We invest heavily in local communities, with a focus on educational infrastructure and life-after-mine sustainability. To achieve the most impact, we develop close working relationships with local municipalities and traditional leaders.”
As the mining industry benefits from high prices in commodities like gold, nickel, copper, lithium and coal, du Toit emphasises that Multotec continues to grow its support. This means expanding its production capacities to accommodate increased demand across the full scope of products supplied into Africa.