The ongoing energy crisis in South Africa has routinely caused steel production to be halted and, owing to generators being costly, steel suppliers and fabricators have had to increase sales prices to recoup costs.
As a result, steel product supplier Stewarts & Lloyds’ (S&L’s) business operations have been affected, owing to clients cutting back on projects.
“A lot of our customers are unable to produce as much work as they usually would meaning that they purchase less from us as a result. S&L teams have had to work harder to ensure we bring our clients the best prices,” says S&L regional manager Ryan Purdon.
S&L steel and tube director Richard Horsley adds that the company has also had to change how it embarks on deliveries to ensure that service delivery to its customers is not affected.
As a result, S&L has introduced generators and inverters for some of its branches to enable them to continue servicing its customers during loadshedding.
However, S&L northern region area manager Corne Kloppers explains that not all branches have generators that can power cranes, resulting in the company’s not being able to load client vehicles or offload supplier vehicles during loadshedding, thereby causing supply chain disruptions.
Therefore, deliveries are delayed, which, in turn, leads to fewer deliveries being made.
In addition to loadshedding, Kloppers notes that government is not adequately investing in the local steel industry, which is coupled with less foreign investment and inflation rising above disposable income.
“Other countries are not investing in South Africa, owing to various challenges facing the country, and the South African government does not have the budget to invest in the various industries and in areas such as infrastructure,” adds Purdon.
To mitigate the impact of loadshedding, S&L sources its steel from multiple suppliers, locally and abroad, to meet client demands “effectively and at the best prices.”
Moreover, last month, the company opened a new fluid store in Nelspruit, with a new store to open this month in Witbank, both in Mpumalanga, to generate greater capacity for stock and better serve clients in the region.