Wood-based panel products manufacturer PG Bison is investing R560-million in its eMkhondo facility, in Mpumalanga, which will result in a 25% capacity increase at the plant when it is completed in early 2022.
The project team is completing the replacement of its preparation line for the eMkhondo plant. This includes state-of-the-art Austrian Büttner energy plant and driers, screening equipment, a new flaker and new conveyor systems, PG Bison lead project manager Francois Pienaar says.
The first phase of the upgrades at eMkhondo commenced in 2015, with the installation of the German Siempelkamp Contiroll press. The first project involved replacing the old forming press, and the cooling, stacking and sanding lines.
Additionally, the company installed and commissioned a second melamine-faced board (MFB) line, with a capacity of 18 000 m2 a day. PG Bison is also able to ensure it optimises the use of raw materials through improving the press process.
In 2020, the company announced a R2-billion capital investment to be rolled out over three years. This includes a major capacity expansion to PG Bison’s existing facilities in eMkhondo, as well as an additional new medium density fibreboard (MDF) plant at the same location.
The completion of the second MFB line has provided PG Bison with significantly increased capacity to service market demand with its MelaWood, SupaGloss and Formica LifeSeal Worktop products, the company says.
Additionally, in late 2019, the company commissioned a refurbished Siempelkamp short-cycle press.
“The refurbishment was managed completely in-house by the PG Bison project team. This included all the electrical cabinets, the design of the supervisory control and data acquisition control system, the pneumatics and the hydraulics, amounting to a complete rebuild. We also performed the installation and fitted the line with three Kuka robots for out-feed and inspection,” Pienaar says.
PG Bison has now received approval from its shareholder KAP Industrial Holdings for the next stage in the eMkhondo development, which entails building an additional MDF plant.
Pending utilities supply and various regulatory approvals, the project will commence in 2022 and is expected to be completed by mid-2024. The capital investment project and the localisation opportunities it will create have been positively received by government at all levels, PG Bison sales and marketing executive Justin Berry notes.
“A total of R1.85-billion will be invested in this new plant. Currently, we produce 400 m3 a day at our MDF plant in Boksburg.
"When the additional eMkhondo plant comes online, our capacity will be increased by 200%, with an additional 800 m3 a day of MDF. This will give PG Bison a total installed capacity on MDF of 1 200 m3 a day between our two MDF plants. We believe the impact of these investments will be significant, contributing to the creation of direct and indirect jobs, as well as skills and enterprise development and further local partnerships,” he says.
IN-HOUSE SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
“There is a massive skills shortage and generation gap in South Africa, but, at PG Bison, we have been working to bridge that gap by investing in our own teams at plants and within project teams. It takes time to build skills and resources, but we have always understood that, for the sake of our own long-term sustainability, we must train up young people,” says Pienaar.
PG Bison has strategically developed its own project management capabilities to allow for major upgrades to be undertaken internally. The company has also invested in its own state-of-the-art workshop equipment and software packages with competent operators.
“We have a dedicated, experienced workshop manager, and our workshops can manage everything from detailing design procurement to the quality of through-puts from the workshops, supported by the detailing draughtsman,” he says.
“We have manufactured over 500 t of platework for this project between our own workshops in Boksburg and eMkhondo,” Pienaar adds.
The Büttner equipment for the new energy plant and driers is being installed by a team from Austrian industrial service provider SGS Industrial Services, and the remainder of the project will be handled by PG Bison’s in-house project team.