Time to cut the old technology loose – Fabrication shop shapes its future

With its 15-year-old machine no longer meeting its needs, Tegmul Engineering has invested in capital equipment to make the company more competitive.

So what makes Tegmul Engineering different from other fabricating shops, except that it has discovered a fruitful niche with plate, used in pressure vessel, power generation, and processing applications in the mining industry for example? To look at the operation, nothing really jumps out as extraordinary. If anything, the company looks like most other fabrication shops. However recent productivity improvements, coupled with expanding its manufacturing capabilities, are what is setting this metal fabricator apart from others.

“Our desire to do bigger jobs, to save time, enhance flexibility, better serve our clients and maximise our productivity is what has spurred us on to this major growth phase in the company,” said Tobie Esterhuizen, owner and one of the original founders of Tegmul Engineering.


Tobie Esterhuizen, owner and one of the original founders of Tegmul Engineering

“Maximising productivity will allow you to capitalise on the range of services that you offer and to wage war against competitors, both near and far. Nevertheless the key to achieving maximum productivity for plate cutting operations starts with defining productivity,” continued Esterhuizen.

“Our first plasma system gave us good service for almost 15 years, but we chose to refresh with a new machine, new warranty, and new technology. The machine still performs certain operations for us but it is ‘baie moeg’ and was starting to let us down,” Esterhuizen said.


Tegmul Engineering have just installed a MicroStep MG gantry construction CNC plasma cutting machine, supplied by Knuth SA

“The company must maintain high quality standards for our customers. A very good reason for us to spend money on modern equipment with state-of-the-art operating systems.”

New MicropStep CNC plasma

“After mapping out our specifications and thoroughly researching several plasma systems, we determined the final decision on a machine would be based on three factors: part repeatability, tolerance of a finished piece over the life of a consumable, and optimal cutting speed,” continued Esterhuizen.

“With our old system, as the consumable count grew, so did the part tolerance go out,” he said. “It was something we were trying to minimise, but to no avail.”

“We selected a MicroStep MG gantry construction CNC plasma cutting machine, supplied by Knuth SA, because we felt it best suited our needs. The machine was installed in January and the benefits have been tremendous and our productivity has picked up significantly.”


A large fabrication in the Tegmul workshop

“The machine is equipped with an efficient and user-friendly CNC control system MSNC500 that has a TFT colour monitor with touch screen and an industrial waterproof keyboard.”

“The table size is 13 500 x 3 000 mm, a HPR 400 XD plasma source with automatic gas control (true hole enabled) and is powered by SigmaNEST software for nesting and beveling.”

“What was not standard on the machine is the 3D Plasma cutting head and the tapping and drilling head. More plate fabricators are investing in combination plate processing centres that handle all the cutting a heavy plate might require, including oxyfuel (for extremely thick plate), plasma cutting, milling, and drilling. The concept is simple: The more you fabricate in one setup, the less you handle the material.”


Tegmul are capable of fabricating various large fabrications

“Traditionally, an operator would use an overhead crane to carry plate to the burn table that would cut the part. Next he would get on top of the table and use the crane again to remove the heavy cut blank, and then stack the plate and move it to a secondary operation, such as tack welding and holemaking with a radial drill. What if somebody else was using the crane? Well then, he’d just have to wait.”

“In recent years, however, plate and structural fabricators have strived to reduce handling time, and the combination plate processing centre provided a way. The biggest advancement in recent years has been the fact that thermal cutting, punching or drilling, part marking, and scribing all have been combined into one CNC process.”


Plate components cut on the new MicroStep MG gantry construction CNC plasma cutting machine supplied by Knuth SA

“The plasma source controls the maximum thickness of material cut by the plasma. Our machine came with HPR 400 XD plasma source and we can cut up to 50 mm for mild steel and 40 mm for stainless steel.”

New Ficep Orient 601 DDB automatic CNC drilling and sawing line

Scheduled to be installed in May is a new Ficep Orient 601 DDB automatic CNC drilling and sawing line, which the company has purchased from Retecon Machine Tools.

The high performance Orient is one of the latest generation of Ficep drilling lines said to have been designed to process beams and profiles quickly, accurately and cost effectively. It is equipped with a single drill head that can be orientated in three positions at high speed, which reduces dead times in the drilling cycle.

New buildings and revamp of existing facility

The expansion and upgrading path that Tegmul Engineering has embarked on would inevitably leave it short of space for housing the new equipment. This has been circumvented with the construction of two new buildings respectively 1 100 m² and 2 600 m² building, which will take the company’s under roof total to 15 000 m².


Tegmul uses a Durma bandsaw to cut sections

“The two new machines will be housed in an existing facility which is currently being revamped. This building also houses our other cutting, bending and drilling equipment, so in essence this will be the service centre facility of the company. The building that housed our rubber lining department has been revamped and now houses our material preparation department,” explained Esterhuizen.

“What is significant about the 1 100 m² building is that we have installed a 20 ton crane which has an 18 metre under the hook capability. This will enable us to take on larger fabrications with an extended height and also complete them under roof.”


The company offers chemical cure and steam cure lining for fabrications used in the mining and chemical industry, but is not limited to these industries

“The 2 600 m² building will house our rubber lining department.”

About Tegmul Engineering

Tegmul Engineering was established in 1993 by Tobie Esterhuizen and quickly established a reputation for quality and service. The business has continued to expand steadily since its inception, broadening it’s range of services in related fields such as rubber lining, industrial painting and grit blasting.

Sectors served

The sectors served by the company include mining, power generation, water treatment, rail, port and transport infrastructure. Almost 100% of the company’s clients are OEMs who contract Tegmul to fabricate mainly fabrications such as pressure vessels, shell and tube heat exchangers, tanks, chutes, piping and ducting, stacks, ducting and mostly any other plate work components.

Successful projects completed include projects such as site built tanks with diameters ranging from six metres to 35 metres diameter in both stainless steel and mild steel material.

The company has undertaken site fabrication from Saldanha Bay on the west coast of South Africa to Ndola and Kitwe in Zambia, other projects in Africa in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Malawi and the DRC.

These include an 18 metre diameter paste thickener tank, which included fabrication of supporting steel work, shop preparation of all plate material, construction on site, final painting on site and installation of mechanical components, the fabrication and erection of a 4.5 metre x 14 metre tall soda ash and lime silo and the shop fabrication of ducting and a four metre diameter stack. The scope of work included transportation of components to site, installation of ducting and erection of the 65 metre high stack.

The company is managed by experienced executives who are committed to long-term sustainability and has taken steps to be at the forefront of embracing change with regard to BEE. Tegmul Engineering is a Level five contributor to BEE. The company purchases a substantial proportion of its requirements from black empowered organisations and is developing purchasing relationships with organisations owned or partially managed by historically disadvantaged individuals.


Tegmul Engineering employs a workforce of around 60 people directly. However over 300 staff are employed indirectly through sub-contractors that are located on the same site (Tegmul’s yard space is over 80 000 m²) or contract workers, depending on the company’s work load.

The company encourages skills diversification through on-the-job training. Several training initiatives, from technical training to management development initiatives, are conducted on an annual basis and development of future talent for the organisation is a stated objective.


A 90 metre traction thickner with a 650 ton lattice boom crane for the mining industry – a Tegmul Engineering fabrication and installation

Tegmul is committed to educating communities, investing in skills for the previously disadvantaged communities and assists aspiring disadvantaged entrepreneurs with business development.


Once the Ficep line is installed Tegmul will be geared to meet the growing demand for steel products fabricated to customer’s specifications in mild steel, stainless steel and 3CR12.

Rubber lining

The company offers chemical cure and steam cure lining for fabrications used in the mining and chemical industry, but is not limited to these industries. Large quantities of different bore size pipes have been successfully lined for infrastructure and mining projects in central and southern Africa. Tegmul Engineering operates an autoclave for vulcanisation of rubber lined pipes and vessels up to 2.2m diameter.

Industrial painting

The company also offers paint coatings, surface refurbishment, finishing and painting maintenance services for light and heavy industrial and mining equipment, pipes and vessels.

Grit blasting

Grit blasting removes rust, scale, coatings and contamination in preparation for painting or the application of specialised coatings or linings. Tegmul Engineering has the ability to perform large grit blasting and industrial painting jobs on sites.

On an average the company will fabricate 250 tons of plate a month.

For further details contact Tegmul Engineering on TEL: 016 362 2007 or visit www.tegmul.co.za