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26 May 2010

Steel Fabricator Opens Upgraded Vanderbijlpark Facility

Structural steel fabricator DSE has launched its upgraded structural steel workshop in Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng.

The facility fabricates light, medium and heavy structural steelwork and platework and offers welding, pretreatment and painting. DSE financial director Pieter Nortje said that the factory had been built in line with production capacity, ranging from light on the northern side of the facility, to medium in the centre and heavy to extra heavy on the southern side of the factory.

There are six bays in total, each of which has a stockyard. The entrance is centrally located for easy routing of work. Nortje explained that each bay could be dedicated to service a customer for a particular industry, should the need arise. The last bay was allocated for emergency stock that would require a longer lead time.

The factory was designed to fabricate 4,000t of steel a month in total production output. The two heavy bays can produce 1,200t each, the medium bays between 600t and 800t each, and the lighter bays between 400t and 600t a bay, depending on the weight and complexity of the steel. The extra-heavy bay is equipped with two cranes that can each lift 100t.

DSE started the upgrade project on its existing facility about two-and-half years ago. The previous facility was 28,000m² in area, with a maximum output capacity of 2,000t/m and the company established that, if expanded, it would tap into a broader market. Although the recession and its impact on the viability of the project were cause for concern, the company’s vision was to have a total turnaround time of four weeks and a production output of 4,000t/m of steel.

This would be achieved through a mechanised process, which would drive products out of the workshop and, in so doing, reduce costs significantly, he explained.

DSE MD Kobus Marais said that new machinery for the facility was bought in Europe and Asia. He explained that the computer numerical control drilling equipment came from handling equipment manufacturer Kaltenbach, in Germany; the plate and nesting equipment from construction machinery company Ficep, in Italy; the automatic welding equipment from welding equipment supplier Esab, in Sweden; and the plate girder machines from China.

There are also in-house shot-blasting and painting facilities and a range of overhead cranes. Some of the machines currently in use were in operation in the original factory for between 30 and 35 years and still work effectively, said Nortje.

Meanwhile, Marais explained that in order to have a more effective tracking system for items passing through the factory, DSE had been involved in a project to write custom software in the form of bocad-PS technology and hard-stamped 2D coding, for the past year. He said that during preliminary planning the new system stamped an impression of a barcode onto the item to a depth of 0.8mm.

The barcode is scanned using infrared scanners and the data stored, allowing the item to be tracked throughout its life cycle.

The barcode is not marred by painting, sandblasting or galvanising and, because the company has the necessary machinery for the process, it comes at no additional cost to DSE. Nortje said that this system enabled 100% traceability of the steel in the factory.

The company is promoting this technology among its competitors, so that effective tracking of items could, potentially, become a standard in the industry. He said that between 300 and 350 employees worked in the facility during a shift and the number could increase, depending on the amount of work to be completed.

Marais said that the facility was currently filling 65,000t of orders related to power generation projects.

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