IDC CEO visits Quality steel in Mbombela

IDC CEO visits Quality steel in Mbombela

An IDC delegation led by CEO Geoffrey Qhena pays a visit to Quality Steel, an Mbombela-based company that has turned its fortunes around on the back of funding from the Corporation.

The IDC delegation is welcomed on arrival at Quality Steel and given an overview of the Mbombela-based company by CEO Andre Potgieter. (Photo: Elias Nkabinde)

IDC CEO Mvuleni Geoffrey Qhena and a delegation of IDC staff recently visited Quality Steel-a steel construction and fabrication company based in Mbombela, Mpumalanga as part of the first IDC CEO Regional Roadshow, hosted at Ingwenyama Conference and Sport Resort in Mbombela.

The objective of the visit to Quality Steel on Friday 20th May, was to enable Mr Qhena and IDC staff to witness first-hand the impact of IDC funding on the Mbombela based steel manufacturing firm.

In 2009, at the peak of the recession, IDC funding helped to stabilise operations at the steel plant and in the process helped to save jobs.

IDC funding makes modernisation possible

IDC funding enabled the Quality steel to buy new, computerised machines from Dutch steel processing machinery maker Voortman after whichit built new offices alongside the existing factory. Drawing from IDC funding, Quality steel was able to set aside R2-million for capital.

Since installing the plant machinery from Voortman Quality Steel has consistently achieved a monthly output target of 150 tons of fabricated steel. The IDC tour of the Quality Steel workshop was led by CEO Andre Potgieter and engineer Petros Barkowitz, and started in the drawing room, where complete design packages, from basic to final drawings, are completed and certified. State-of-the-art design software allows Quality Steel to create 3D-rendered models of any mechanical plant, civil or steel structure.

From there, the tour proceeded to the company’s steel room, where the Voortman machine forms the centre-piece of Quality Steel’s engineering process.

‘We now produce more than triple the volume with the same workforce’

In the drawing room, state-of-the-art design software enables Engineer Petros Barkowitz to create 3D-rendered models of any mechanical plant, civil or steel structure. (Photo: Elias Nkabinde)“Voortman technology brought enormous savings to our company, as we now produce more than triple the volume with the same labour force,” Potgieter said.

“Our fully automated Voortman steel processing systems enable us to process steel more efficiently, improve productivity, reduce man-hours, minimise waste and avoid costly production errors.”

In the Quality Steel cutting room, IDC staff got to see part of the process of working with steel to create individual components, assemblies, as well as large-scale structures.

According to Potgieter, Quality Steel’s experience proves that productivity and quality go hand-in-hand with modern automation solutions – and demonstrates the importance of having a partner like the IDC.

“Before the IDC’s funding, we would do 75 tons of steel work with 50 people. With this machinery we can do 500 tons of steel work with 50 people. Not only has production quantity increased, but the quality has increased tremendously.”

It is on the back of this turnaround that Quality Steel has begun looking at expanding into other African countries, where Potgieter believes there is a huge market for steel producers.

‘Staff numbers stable – skills, salaries on the rise’

IDC CEO Mvuleni Geoffrey Qhena and his delegation listen closely as the process of working with Voortman machinery is explained to them. (Photo: Elias Nkabinde)“We are now more effective,” Potgieter said. “In addition, while the number of people working here has not increased much, their salary has increased, because everyone working here is better trained.”

The most interesting thing he has seen in recent years, he says, is the emergence of young people in the industry. In particular, he has been impressed by their spirit, aptitude and desire to get things right.

“The attitude the young people have nowadays is amazing,” he said. “Some of them are already machine operators and drawers.”