South Africa: New grease factory
The new FUCHS grease factory in Isando, Johannesburg, is the most modern grease production facility in Africa. “Hot commissioning started at the end of November and we plan to launch production starting in the 1st quarter in 2018,” says Alf Untersteller, in charge for Africa in the Group Management Committee. German equipment featuring a high degree of automation and an encapsulated dosing unit for powder additives are the technological highlights of the new plant. The factory benefits from experience made with the grease factories in Kiel and Harvey. As the new factory could be installed in an area of 622 square meters in premises already available at FUCHS LUBRICANTS (SOUTH AFRICA), new space requirements were minimal thus yielding significant cost savings. Environmental concerns were taken into account, too, and the laboratory was completely modernized.
A team consisting of one supervisor and nine skilled workers operates production predominantly manufacturing mining greases. “The focus is on lithium, lithium-complex and aluminum-complex greases,” says Paul Deppe, CEO of the South African FUCHS subsidiary. “However, sufficient heating and cooling capacities are available to produce new grease grades based on calcium sulphonate.”
The team was trained in Germany. “Our maintenance engineer, the production manager, the production supervisor and five grease makers spent one week in Mannheim gathering information on the basic principles of grease production, quality control and the operation of the automation system,” Mr. Deppe reports. “The production training took place during the subsequent two weeks at the grease factory in Kiel where the in-house staff was very committed helping their colleagues from far away Africa. Some of them had never been on an airplane or even left their home country.”
“Thanks to the increased production capacities, we not only aim to strengthen our position in the grease sector on the South African mining market but also in the neighboring countries,” Mr. Untersteller emphasizes. “Given the expensive equipment used in this sector, top-quality greases are particularly in demand. That is why we foresee great potentials to increase our customer base.”
Point of departure for the decision to build a new grease factory in South Africa was not only the necessity to modernize and expand of the old equipment but also the acquisition of the LUBRITENE Group in 2014. “In the first quarter of 2018, we will shut down the LUBRITENE factory in Chloorkop, located only a few minutes away from our new site,” Mr. Deppe explains. “Its production will be taken over by the new plant in Isando.”