The lack of local original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) has led to a low availability of valve components and spares – particularly during the Covid-19 period – which has, consequently, resulted in project delays, says engineering contractor Brimis Engineering.
“During the national lockdown, imports, and overall logistics operations, came to a halt. The delay of spares and whole valve assembly can then easily have lead times of between 12 weeks and 30 weeks, compared with six to eight weeks under normal circumstances,” explains Brimis Engineering technical director Moeketsi Mpotu.
He notes that, in trying to mitigate the lack of local manufacturing, Brimis Engineering has collaborated with a global valve specialist entity in Europe, and Brimis Engineering continues to collaborate with OEM representatives in South Africa.
However, Mpotu says this is not sufficient to fully mitigate the risks posed by the lack of local manufacturing.
“The local manufacturing of critical valves will enable companies to not only maintain work schedules but also cut delivery times, reduce costs and drive local employment.”
Brimis Engineering project manager Siphiwe Phakati notes that South Africa has the technical and engineering capabilities to manufacture critical valves, but adds that the country lacks the will and mindset from within the industry to locally manufacture critical valves.
“The pandemic has exposed the industry risk of an overreliance on importing items that we have the skills and capabilities to manufacture. The country has immense human capital with technical skill. The private sector needs to rise to the challenge and completely localise specialised valve and critical valve manufacturing.”
Phakathi mentions that critical high-pressure and -temperature valve refurbishments have come under severe pressure because of no local manufacturing. He suggests, therefore, that government has a significant role to play in localising the manufacturing of critical valves.
This has been done in terms of the minimum 70% local-content requirement for low- to medium-temperature valves and pressure valves being produced locally,” he explains.
However, Mpotu and Phakati state that Brimis Engineering believes that government has to set the timeframe for when a similar requirement will be enforced for critical high-temperature and high-pressure valves.
Brimis Engineering continues to collaborate with global OEM partners in planning and anticipating future stockholding needs.