Established in 2002 with the focus being on supplying manufactured spares to industry, Siyanda Engineering’s history actually dates back further than 2002. The company has roots dating back to 1988 when friends David Slabbert and Pieter Alberts formed a partnership to establish a general engineering machine shop. Alberts was more mechanical engineering inclined and Slabbert had a flare and leaning towards sales and marketing, a perfect fit to run a company focusing on manufacturing and repairs of wear part components and spares.
The name change of the company to Siyanda Engineering in 2002 was implemented to better represent the company’s involvement in mechanical engineering and the political landscape of the country.
“With the previous name of the company – Tradepro – there was no connection at all to the type of business it was and the engineering industries that it was dealing with,” explained Sales Director Deon Slabbert, who is also the son of one of the original founders.
Some of the management team at Siyanda Engineering. Deon Slabbert, Werner Stroebel, Peter Ntobeni, Judas Manyane, David Slabbert and Pieter Alberts
Extreme Machines have supplied Siyanda Engineering with an Excetek V400 wire EDM
“Those 14 years under the old name had established the company as one that built relationships with customers while creating a reputation for quality, combining original best practices with new technologies and manufacturing approaches. It was the right foundation to build the company on.”
“From the beginning my dad and Peter believed that machined parts suppliers must be more than just a machine shop. That means staying in very close communication with their customers and involving themselves in the early stages of their customers’ part design processes. That way, their engineering expertise allowed them to suggest ways to make machining easier i.e. less expensive. In addition, they offered services such as reverse engineering, component assembly, installation, prototyping and repair work. Plus, they brought key non-machining processes in house, which saves on transportation costs and eliminates inherent communication hassles and shipping delays when using multiple companies. Over the years, they have added processes such as specialised welding, small fabrication, refurbishment, heat treatment, project and site development, maintenance and installation and metallurgical and metrology analysis services.”
“This is reflected in that our machine shop can offer CNC turning, milling and boring, spark eroding, wire cutting, thread rolling, internal and external grinding, honing, metal spraying as well as conventional milling and turning.”
One of the company’s biggest clients is the SOE Eskom. They have a contract for what they call the ‘peeking’ power stations to service, repair and refurbish the turbines (not the blades), valves, pumps, boilers and other auxiliary equipment and spares
A recent addition has been the investment in an Akira-Seiki Performa V5.5 CNC machining center. The machine has XYZ travels of 1 350 x 640 x 660mm, a table size of 1 500 x 600mm, can accommodate a maximum load of 2 250kg, rapid feeds on the XYZ of 30/30/25m/min and a spindle speed of 12 000rpm. The machine was purchased from MJH Machine Tools
Siyanda Engineering has not concentrated on large-part machining – the really big workpieces – as they do not have the equipment or machinery to successfully handle these types of components. Rather it has developed around handling small to medium size components, depending on your perception of what is small, medium or large. The company’s vertical CNC boring mill has a capacity for a component with a three metre diameter whereas their manual lathe can accommodate shafts up to three metres in length, which relatively speaking, is not that small. The company does have a 10 ton crane with seven metres underhook so it is all relative.
Siyanda Engineering is one of very few companies in South Africa to offer orbital welding services. Orbital welding is a specialised area of welding whereby the arc is rotated mechanically through 360° (180 degrees in double up welding) around a static workpiece, an object such as a pipe – in a continuous process.
“It is very difficult to achieve the highest standards of quality and safety using manual welding. This is due to certain welding positions, overhead and down-hand welds for example, often leading to faulty welds due to restricted access the user has in these welding positions. In order to have complete control over the weld pool, a perfect balance must be maintained between gravitational force and surface tension at every position of the torch. By using mechanised variants of the technique, certain parts of the welding process are handled by mechanical components. Note that a welder will always be monitoring and controlling the process. In an ideal situation, all welding parameters would be fully programmed before welding is started. In practice, however, the presence of variable constraints means that it is often necessary for the welder to make corrective interventions,” explained Deon Slabbert.
The company has also recently purchased a Craft 3011ZR CNC bed type machining/milling center that has XYZ travels of 2 000 x 800 x 700mm, a table size of 2 500 x 600mm and can accommodate a maximum load of 1 200kg. Craft Machine Tools supplied the machine
The company also has vertical boring machines on the machine shop floor
“A successful automatic orbital weld is 100% repeatable as long as the operator monitors variables and performs periodic samples, which are inspected for complete penetration.”
“Owing to its ability to realise high purity results, orbital welding found its place in the production of clean-room components for the semiconductor industry. Its application has now expanded to the construction of pipework and equipment for diverse industries like food processing, pharmaceuticals, chemical engineering, automotive engineering, biotechnology, shipbuilding and aerospace.”
Siyanda Engineering has built its business around servicing clients in the power generation and mining industries and those companies manufacturing pumps and valves. One of the company’s biggest clients is the SOE Eskom. They have a contract for what they call the ‘peeking’ power stations to service, repair and refurbish the turbines (not the blades), valves, pumps, boilers and other auxiliary equipment and spares.
Amongst others the company has also machined various components for the Drakensberg, Ingula and Palmiet hydro pump storage schemes as well as components for Gariep Dam.
The company also has a Scharmann horizontal borer
Siyanda Engineering has a number of CNC turning lathes
However power generation and the mining industries are not the only industries that Siyanda Engineering has work with. Clients on their books include the paper mills, petro-chemical and the food and beverages industries.
In 2017 Siyanda Engineering expanded its footprint into the Mpumalanga Province by setting up a partnership with Zithembile Engineering, based in the Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium Industrial Park, which is located on the site of the closed steel mill just outside Witbank.
“They occupy a space of 2 000m² and the engineering side is virtually a replica of our Bredell, Kempton Park facility except for certain processes that don’t need duplicating.”
“The engineering side is run by Onkar Choudhray. We support local development and the transferal of skills to companies like Zithembile. They are a Level 2 BBEEE contributor, which complements our Level 2 status.”
“More importantly they are situated in an area where we have a number of sites to service on a regular basis. A number of the Eskom power stations are in the area as is the Kusile Power Station.”
“Our exposure in this area has also given us more access to the many mines that operate in Mpumalanga. It is becoming more important to have a facility within a 50km radius, especially if you are dealing with SOEs and government entities.”
“Localisation is one of the levers that the South African government has identified as a tool to fastrack industrialisation. Once a product has been designated for local production, all organs of state supposedly have to comply with the requirements. We are a big supporter of this initiative and we hope it can be policed in the future.”
In 2017 Siyanda Engineering expanded its footprint into the Mpumalanga Province by setting up a partnership with Zithembile Engineering, based in the Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium Industrial Park, which is located on the site of the closed steel mill just outside Witbank
Fabrication also takes place at Siyanda Engineering
“Government cannot impose localisation policy on the private sector. However, those companies supplying Eskom power stations, for example, will have to put in place mechanisms to abide. It also filters down to these companies’ suppliers as well.”
“We are proud to say that one of our clients – a large multinational – has recognised us to fit the criteria. They provide advanced power generation technology and services including maintenance and operations, parts and repair services, and contractual services agreements to nine Eskom Power stations as well as gas turbines to Sasol’s Secunda Plant.”
“There are a number of criteria you have to put in place including being certified to ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 3834 Part 2. We have had these accreditations for some time now.”
Siyanda Engineering has a mix of machines on its floor that suits its type of machining. Some equipment has been purchased second hand but the majority of the equipment has been purchased new.
A recent addition has been the investment in an Akira-Seiki Performa V5.5 CNC machining center. The machine has XYZ travels of 1 300 x 540 x 560mm, a table size of 1 450 x 480mm, can accommodate a maximum load of 1 080kg, rapid feeds on the XYZ of 40/40/25m/min and a spindle speed of 12 000rpm. The machine was purchased from MJH Machine Tools.
The company has also recently purchased a Craft 3011ZR CNC bed type machining/milling center that has XYZ travels of 2 000 x 800 x 700mm, a table size of 2 500 x 600mm and can accommodate a maximum load of 1 200kg. Craft Machine Tools supplied the machine as they did the new Craft 3-axis turret mill that is equipped with a DRO, has XYZ travels of 1 000 x 500 x 700mm and can take a load of 500kg.
Siyanda Engineering has the ability to provide services to the mechanical engineering industry from concept through to design, manufacturing and installation. The company makes use of Edgecam for its machining operations and SolidEdge for design.
The next generation
Too often you hear of businesses that rely heavily on one client and usually this will account for over 80% of the company’s turnover. So when this client hits bad times so do its suppliers and those that have not diversified will generally end up closing.
Equally those companies that don’t make succession plans can struggle to hand over or sell when the owner decides to retire. With the two original founders now in their 60s Siyanda Engineering have already begun with these succession plans as is the case with David Slabbert’s son, Deon, being appointed Sales Director.
The company has also recently purchased a Craft 3011ZR CNC bed type machining/milling center
Slabbert feels the company is well equipped and managed to remain competitive for years to come, but he’s already thinking about the next step in its growth.
“We believe ultimately that diversity is the best protection against downturns in the economy. So we’re actively talking to other companies to secure their business. A recent win has been acquiring the machining components for the automotive industry for a company that has decided to concentrate on its foundry operations.”
“Currently we employ 72 staff between our Kempton Park and Witbank operations and we want to increase this number. We can only do that by gaining more clients while at the same time diversifying. Localisation, if it is implemented and policed correctly, can play a big role in supporting and sustaining local businesses, from machine shops to foundries. Government needs to consider this seriously if it wants future growth and the prosperity of the country to be sustained. The upside is unemployment rates will drop and we will become an attractive country to invest in again.”