True-blue South African manufacturer Multotec will once again be showcasing developments in its range of mineral processing equipment at Electra Mining Africa this year, with new technologies that benefit life cycle costing and service efficiency.
Multotec group CEO Thomas Holtz highlights the group’s continued re-investment in research and development to incorporate fast-moving technology into its products in a way that adds direct value to customers’ operations.
“Our technical capacity as a leading local manufacturer allows us to continually evolve our products in terms of preventative maintenance, for instance,” says Holtz. “Technologies like smart panels and 360° virtual reality video are pioneering efforts to bring greater efficiencies to mineral processing plants, and to help create a more sustainable mining sector.”
Visitors can expect to see increased use of sensors and digital technologies in condition monitoring that employ predictive tools and make for less downtime and more productive plants.
With the mantra of ‘Think Global, Act Local’, Multotec also leverages its international footprint in its product development process, using lessons from around the world to feed into its local innovations. For Holtz, retaining the technological edge is one important way that South Africa can promote and build its local manufacturing capability thereby helping to create the jobs the country so badly needs.
“Multotec is very proud of its position as a local manufacturer, having proved our mettle over more than 50 years,” he says. “That is why we are fully supportive of what the Mining Charter is emphasising in terms of local content in products for the mining sector, especially because the issue of verification of local content is addressed.”
He notes that formal verification has been a missing element in the stated government drive to promote local manufacture of goods, which has led to lost opportunities and significant abuse in the marketplace.
“The emphasis on local content is crucial to promoting the South African economy, but if it is not carefully verified, then the whole initiative is open to abuse,” he says. “Manufacturers generally have to import certain components of their products, but if their actual input is only nominal then it does not achieve the goals of the stated policy.”
According to the Manufacturing Circle – in which Multotec is an active member – the country’s percentage of local manufacture as a percentage of GDP has dropped from 24% in 1994 to just 12% today, with the difference going to imported products.
“This indicates that we are losing expertise,” says Holtz. “If we want to drive a local manufacturing agenda and create jobs in the manufacturing sector, we have to understand that the work must be pushed towards factories that are genuinely adding value here in South Africa, rather than supporting people with a South African-registered company that imports goods and adds just a paltry level of local input.”
While the Mining Charter requirements on local manufacture are still to be finalised, a level of local content in the region of about 60% appears to be what government would like to aim for among mining suppliers, before a product can be recognised as ‘proudly South African’.
“We are already participating in the engagement process with the South African Bureau of Standards about how such a verification system could be designed and implemented,” he says. “This will require an auditing authority, such as the SABS, to ensure that there is formal verification of the local content levels that manufactures claim.”
As a Level 4 B-BBEE company with a 26% black shareholding, Multotec recognises its important position as part of the local economic and social ecosystem in South Africa, where skill-sharing and community development go hand in hand. It has its own training facility for both internal use and external players in the sector, where operators, technicians and salespeople can learn practical lessons about optimising mineral processing equipment on site – bridging the gap between the theory provided by tertiary educational institutions and the realities of the workplace.
This training continually boosts the capacity in the network of eight Multotec offices around South Africa, as well as its footprint in other parts of Africa. The capacity of the South African branches – as well as in the Botswana branch – has allowed the implementation of an innovative ‘cents per tonne’ service model for those customers who choose it.
“This model simplifies the relationship with the customer, reduces invoicing and streamlines the plant maintenance process,” he says. “Service crews are placed on site to service our own equipment and – rather than invoicing the customer on each product delivered to site – we invoice once a month based on the tonnages processed.”
Multotec’s growing branch network means that it is always getting closer to the customer, a key strategy in understanding the challenges that are specific to the country and the site. Among the countries where the group is particularly active are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Mozambique with growing exposure in West Africa.
“An important part of our skills sharing is the expert conferences we host in countries like Ghana,” says Holtz. “Our product specialists, who are globally recognised in their fields, present their insights and training to assist local operators to optimally apply our key product lines under local conditions. These events are valuable opportunities for us to share our experience while highlighting our expertise to mining operations who may require our input at some stage.”
Multotec can be found in Hall 6A22 and outside OSP20.