With a lack of investment and new projects locally, stainless steel fabricator Vessel Fab has expanded its offering into Africa and has been working on a few projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo and its neighbouring countries.
Over the past decade, there has been an exponential growth in the mining sector in many African countries with the discovery of various commodities such as copper, tin, cobalt and gold which resulted in many mining companies establishing their own processing facilities.
“We manufacture various types of equipment for the processing facilities from various grades of materials,” says Vessel Fab project manager Johan Raats.
Raats says the company prides itself on providing clients with custom-built equipment that is purpose built to suit its client’s specifications and materials requirements.
“The interesting part about building custom-built equipment is that we are not building the same item over and over – there is always a new challenge every time a client approaches us with a new type of equipment that we haven’t built before.”
Raats explains that it can take about three weeks for a design to be completed and, if it is more complex, the design can take a few months, depending on whether the client needs finite element analysis on the design or if there are additional design requirements.
The manufacturing of pressure equipment from specialised materials could cause delays in the manufacturing process, which is a result of materials only being produced and stocked by steel mills abroad. The problem with sourcing materials from abroad is the delays in shipping time as well as customs checks, which could result in delays ranging from a few weeks to a few months.
The company recently built equipment that took almost a year to complete because of its size and complexity. During the manufacturing of the equipment, Vessel Fab had to ensure that it has complied with the pressure equipment regulations as the equipment was classified as pressure equipment.
These regulations govern the manufacture, nondestructive testing, handling, installation and maintenance of pressure equipment, and require all manufacturers in the industry to obtain the ISO3834 Part 2 accreditation when manufacturing pressure equipment.
They also state that a manufacturer must ensure that the pressure equipment manufactured, modified, inspected, tested or repaired is safe and conforms to both the SANS 347 regulations and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which will ensure that there are no health risks when it is used properly.
Every manufacturer shall ensure that a data plate – containing the name of the manufacturer, country of origin, year of manufacture and the manufacturer’s serial number, is permanently fixed in a conspicuous place to any piece of pressure equipment manufactured.
Further, every piece of pressure equipment is subjected to both in-house and external Authorised Inspection Authority inspections, and hydrostatically tested to ensure that the equipment is able to maintain the desired pressure indicated in the mechanical design.
The company recently manufactured a distillation column for the production of alcohol for a client in one of the neighbouring countries.
Vessel Fab manufactures equipment for the paper and pulp, petrochemicals, minerals processing and food and beverage industries, Raats concludes.