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John Thompson celebrates 60 years in the Western Cape

John Thompson Enviropac dual-fuel, oil-gas-fired boiler. John Thompson Enviropac dual-fuel, oil-gas-fired boiler.

This year, 2014, marks the 60th anniversary of boiler manufacture at the John Thompson factory in Bellville South, Western Cape.

When one thinks of a 60th anniversary, the first thing that comes to mind is the wedding anniversary known as a Diamond Anniversary. The word ‘diamond’ comes from the Greek word ‘adamas’ which means ‘unconquerable and enduring’…a fitting description of John Thompson’s existence and spirit, over the past 60 years in particular.

Historical background

With a long history in the boiler industry, the John Thompson name actually has its roots in the Industrial Revolution of 19th-century England when the first John Thompson boilers were manufactured. Since John Thompson came to South Africa in 1935, they have contributed to the rapid industrial expansion of the country through the supply of boilers and associated equipment to industries such as: food and beverage, pulp and paper, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, fishing, mining and power generation, as well as to government institutions.

John Thompson has also experienced several changes in ownership and is now the Power Division of ACTOM (Pty) Ltd, maintaining their specialist capabilities in the design and manufacture of package firetube boilers and industrial watertube boilers, as well as the retrofit and maintenance of utility boilers and environmental equipment.

During the past 60 years John Thompson has, from their Western Cape factory, supplied over 4,000 firetube boilers and 100 watertube boilers and numerous waste-heat boilers to customers in industries in Africa, Europe, South-East Asia, the Middle-East, the Americas and Australia.

Expansion programme

The strength of John Thompson’s manufacturing capability is fittingly recognized in its 60th year by the expansion of its factory at the Bellville site. The design phase of the expansion program has been completed and their shareholders have recently approved a Capital Expansion Program with a value of R30m. This capital expenditure will pay for a new workshop for the specific manufacture of industrial watertube boilers. It will cover an area of 2,000m2 and be built on a greenfield behind their existing foundry. John Thompson will also be extending their 50 ton workshop by an additional 400m2 to accommodate another furnace corrugating machine.

In addition, the expansion activities will include: upgrading of the power supply to the site, the installation of three new cranes, each with a lifting capacity of 15 tons, and a larger parking area, as well as investment in some new, long-overdue machinery. 

The most positive aspect of the expansion, for both John Thompson and the local community, is the planned employment of more staff to provide the additional capacity needed to meet their customers’ ever increasing demands.  expanding the factory’s capacity and, at the same time, containing factory overheads will help them remain competitive in the global marketplace.  

In this regard, the first order for two watertube boilers for Indonesia was received in November, just a few days after the factory expansion was approved. John Thompson is confident that this order will be the first of many to come, thus keeping the new facility full for the foreseeable future. 

Quality system

John Thompson is listed by Lloyds Register of Industrial Services as an approved manufacturer for Class 1 fusion welded pressure vessels and was also the first in Africa to be certified by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME.)

Their Quality System has been assessed to the ISO 9001 system by the SABS and listed accordingly. They have designed and built equipment in accordance with a number of international codes and specifications. These include AD Merkblatter, ASME, British Standard Specification, ANCC (Italian), TRD, EN and ISO 3834 for welding.

John Thompson’s Non-Destructive Testing Services Department and Laboratory headed by their resident metallurgist provides comprehensive non-destructive services in all disciplines.

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