Tal-Tec embraces technology to enhance efficiencies and productivity

For many shops in the metal fabricating world, laser cutting capability was never a prerequisite to success. Tal-Tec knew that first hand. It had been doing just fine without lasers for the last 46 years. The company had relied on its press brakes and guillotines for its metal cutting and bending of mild steel needs. The equipment that the company manufactures might not require the high-spec tolerances needed for safety critical equipment, but it still needs tight tolerances as the cattle and animal handling systems that the company manufactures are deployed and used in some harsh working environments.

Tal-Tec was established when Peter Talbot decided to design and build a Spray Race, through which livestock could walk, rather than swim, an efficient way of spraying livestock. This is the semi-portable version of the Spray Race

“There are many potential hazards involved in handling livestock and the farmer, handler and livestock run the risk of injuries and fatality if firstly, the equipment does not meet the standards and secondly, safe livestock handling practices are not implemented. Livestock have minds of their own, a huge weight advantage and move surprisingly fast. Agitated cattle are a particular risk. It takes skill and practice to handle them safely. Even skilled cattle handlers take knocks or kicks during their careers. Every year, many people are hurt by cattle, mostly when cattle kick or crush them. Some get serious injuries, like broken bones, and people have been killed,” explained Greg Talbot Tal-Tec’s Managing Director.

“Whether you are in the beef, dairy, sheep or goat industries working as a farmer, his farm employee, a contractor or truck driver, general livestock handling principles apply. If you can work your farm livestock using innovative livestock equipment designed and manufactured to withstand the rigorous conditions experienced by farmers in Africa, while at the same time improving the handling process and keeping costs down, then you will have a winning experience.”

“Low-stress livestock handling techniques and equipment mean happy cows, which equals tasty beef, which equals satisfied customers!”

Greg Talbot, MD of Tal-Tec and Production Manager Jacques Beukes in front of the new Durma HD-FO 3015 2kW laser cutting machine that was supplied by Spectrum Machine Tools Africa

Tal-Tec’s livestock handling systems simplifies ear tagging, vaccinations and parasite control among others. The equipment includes lifting, loading, transporting, clamping, feeding, watering, holding variations for all livestock, as well as a host of other farming accessories such as branding irons and castrators

Tal-Tec’s livestock handling systems simplifies ear tagging, vaccinations and parasite control among others. The equipment includes lifting, loading, transporting, clamping, feeding, watering, holding variations for all livestock, as well as a host of other farming accessories such as branding irons and castrators. More recently the company has introduced eWeigh and iLivestock products, electronic information aids designed to be used in conjunction with a smartphone.

Although Tal-Tec was officially established in 1974, the company can look back to 1970 as its beginning when William Talbot, a South African engineer, and his son Peter Talbot, bought a small cattle farm near Vaalwater in Limpopo. Soon after, when they stocked the farm with cattle, they began the process of dipping to protect the cattle against ticks and tick-borne diseases.

The traditional method was to build a plunge dip, through which the cattle had to swim. The construction of this kind of dip was and remains costly, and this combined with the very wasteful use of tickacide made the Talbot’s think that there had to be a better, more cost-effective way of achieving the same result.

The Durma HD-FO 3015 2kW laser cutting machine has a bed size of 3 000mm by 1 500mm and was supplied by Spectrum Machine Tools Africa

SolidWorks was used to design the recently introduced sheep tilt clamp, a product that allows the farmer to turn the sheep upside down. This is ideal for inspection, dipping, dosing, clipping of hooves, artificial insemination and any other medical administration and castration without fear of being injured

Peter Talbot decided to design and build a Spray Race, through which the animals could walk, rather than swim. At the same time, the construction allowed for recycling of the dip mixture. In 1972 the Talbot’s exhibited a single Spray Race at the Pretoria Agricultural Show and the product captured the imagination of the farmers.

By the mid-eighties demand for the equipment was so high that Peter Talbot formed an independent company, Tal-Tec cc., dedicated to the design and production of innovative livestock management equipment.

Peter’s son, Greg Talbot, joined the company in the 1990’s, bringing many new skills to the business. Today Greg is the Managing Director of Tal-Tec. Six years ago the family connection continued when Greg’s son Johan, joined the company.

Tal-Tec’s livestock handling systems includes supplying the tanks for the Spray Race, for example

Another new product is a sheep Spray Race

Peter Talbot retired from the business in 2006 after more than 30 years. “He saw the business through from the lowest dips to the great excitement of the first state tender. Dad paid his dues in sweat, equity, attending show after show, year after year, as he built up the business and the Tal-Tec brand name. He now resides in the Eastern Cape and is enjoying some well-deserved rest. He still provides much advice and support to the team back in Brits, North West Province where our manufacturing facility has been based since the inception of the company.”

Tal-Tec experienced phenomenal growth in the late 2000’s, which saw a healthy increase in personnel. Greg has a strong and loyal team that supports him. The company welcomes 46 staff every morning.

The company still operates from its original 800m² facility but have recently added a further 3 000m² production facility.

The welding department at Tal-Tec

In the processing department in the new 3 000m² production facility the company has a Sahinler three roll roller and a press brake

Introduction of Durma laser cutting machine enhances efficiencies and productivity
“Of the products that we manufacture and process, flat sheet accounts for about 40% of the material used and tubing 60%. This is made up of different gauges and sizes and we are cutting, bending, drilling and notching material. This processing all takes place in the new facility, which afforded us a greenfield opportunity to organise the flow of our processes and still left us with plenty of room to expand. It also allowed us to separate the ‘clean’ processes such as the cutting, bending, drilling and notching of material into one facility, leaving the fettling, welding and coating of material in the original facility,” explained Talbot.

“This whole process of building a new facility and moving our processing equipment stems from a productivity drive that we began five years ago. Although, there was nothing wrong with the components that we were producing for our products, our way of processing them was not very efficient and if you look at the way we process material now, especially the flat sheet, we can’t believe that we operated in that fashion for so long.”

A Tal-Tec Spray Race

A sheep tilt with ramp and force pen, all manufactured by Tal-Tec

“It is all as a result of the introduction of our Durma HD-FO 3015 2kW laser cutting machine that has a bed size of 3 000mm by 1 500mm was supplied by Spectrum Machine Tools Africa. We have seen a remarkable difference in the quality of the cut, the repeatability and tolerances. This has afforded us other benefits such as less fixturing and jigging and more importantly processes down the line, such as bending, and the processing of other components, can be done faster, and there is also less welding needing to take place.”

“This has now allowed us to now supply our end product in a modular knockdown kit or a stackable flat pack kit and assembly then takes place on sight. This is a big cost saving when we are transporting product, say to Zambia. We are able to put more product on the truck and we are not paying for transporting air. So in essence our ‘Meccano’ set arrives on site and the farmer or distributor assembles the product.”

New products
“Currently we have approximately 300 different products in our range. We are always looking to introduce new products and improve existing product. Putting too much pressure on animals can hinder weight gain, reproduction and other key aspects of cattle production, which can lead to lower profits. It can also cause cattle to ‘sour’ on their handlers, making a herd more difficult, costly and time-consuming to manage. How animals are treated has a greater effect on their disposition than genetics, so people who work with cattle should maintain a positive attitude and be open to trying new methods. If our behaviour creates fear in these animals, it creates stress, and their productivity will go down.”

A CSM pipe bender supplied by Retecon

Many bars, tubes and lengths have to be cut to size at Tal-Tec. The processing department makes use of a Kasto band saw supplied by Retecon

“Likewise our equipment must cause the animal as little stress as possible. We must also take the farmer into consideration. He needs to be stress free as well. We need to make it as easy as possible for him to handle and process his livestock. If we can provide a product that will save the farmer time, frustration and money, then we have a business.”

“We have two staff working with SolidWorks and they recently introduced a sheep tilt clamp so as to allow the farmer to turn the sheep upside down. This is ideal for inspection, dipping, dosing, clipping of hooves, artificial insemination and any other medical administration and castration without fear of being injured.”

Sheep being forced through the sheep Spray Race

“Manufacture of cattle equipment accounts for 80% of our production. When introducing a new product the motivation is usually instigated from the farmer himself. If we don’t design and make it he will do it himself.”

“We believe that the farmer can create a better future for his livestock by knowing his animal’s history. He can be part of the solution in the world’s food value chain by enhancing the traceability in the livestock industry. This is why we have introduced our eWeigh and iLivestock products.”

“By just marking your animals with your registered brand mark and a numbering system, you can start the process of creating a database on your farm. Tal-Tec has a solution to manage this data. iLivestock is a smartphone app that connects wirelessly to your scale and reader. Your ear tags, brand mark or electronic tag can be recorded onto your smartphone. With iLivestock and eWeigh you can weigh, upload a photo and then store the animal’s number along with all the necessary information.”

“Typical information that can be stored includes gestation periods, when the cow will calf, birth dates, inter-calving periods, calving weight and calf number. All the calf’s information can be recorded from weaning weight, weaning date or days to weaning. Daily weight gain and inoculation schedule are some of the many fields of data that can be captured. Even GPS coordinates can be stored so you can track where you last worked with your animals or where they originate from. You can also record the genealogy of your herd.”

Another popular product that Tal-Tec manufactures is a neck and body clamp, a cattle handling system that simplifies ear tagging, vaccinations and parasite control among others

“We have been challenged to improve processes to keep costs down. For the last year and a half, we have been working on improving productivity. Staff training is also crucial and much attention is being paid to boosting staff morale.”

“Another key focus is sales. Our export market is growing stronger and stronger. Several business-building trips into Africa have revealed a market hungry for equipment. We currently export to Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zambia and United Arab Emirates.”

Robotic welding
“Currently we are investigating more opportunities to improve our processes and productivity. Robotic welding is one area we are investigating and of course upgrading our existing equipment such as the press brake is another.”

For further details contact Tal-Tec on 012 250 2188 or visit www.taltec.co.za