Steinmüller Africa art of SA’s energy landscape

Steinmuller

Steinmüller Africa is well-positioned to play an even larger role in helping South Africa to strengthen its electricity-generation capacity. The company is the original equipment manufacturer for a significant portion of the boilers that have been installed in the country’s coal-fired power station fleet, which generates as much as 38GW of South Africa’s electricity requirements. For more than six decades, the company has also been undertaking maintenance activity at the majority of South Africa’s coal-fuelled power stations. More recently, the company was also appointed to provide maintenance and repair services for the Arnot, Camden, Duvha, Kriel, Majuba, Hendrina, Kendal and Kusile Power Stations.

“We are confident in the future of the country and that economic activity will gather momentum again, driving demand for our cutting-edge services. We have thus retained our capacity – although downsized according to current market requirements – to provide comprehensive solutions for steam generation. This is at a time when there has been significant disinvestment and de-industrialisation in the country. Our approach demonstrates the confidence that Steinmüller Africa has in the future of the country,” Mohamed Khan, Director of Steinmüller Africa, tells Cape Business News.  

The urgent need to bring more baseload-generation capacity online and refurbish existing power stations bodes well for Steinmüller Africa. This is in addition to the immense opportunity that presents from independent-power producer projects, including co-generation initiatives by industries, such as mining.

Certainly, being awarded the four-year contract to conduct repair and maintenance at the eight coal-fired power stations is testament to the company’s extensive skills and capabilities in all phases of the lifecycle of steam-generation plants. The company competed against several local and international companies to fulfil the stringent requirements of the contract.

A significant portion of these capabilities are housed in Steinmüller Africa’s 30 000m² factory in Tshwane, Gauteng. The facility is the company’s flagship operation. It features 35m x 75m-long work bays and lifting capacities of up to 40t, which is also in the process of being upgraded. As Khan notes, the company has always taken a proactive approach to expanding capacity, and this upgrade again points to the company’s cautious yet optimistic outlook for the future.

Among the facility’s flagship projects was fabricating high pressure boiler parts for both Kusile and Medupi power stations between 2008 and 2017. As many as 2 700 people were employed at the factory during the manufacture of the vertical walls, coils, headers, connecting tubes, roofs, header supports, as well as circulation and high pressure and LBG pipework systems. Steinmüller Africa’s team worked a total of 2-million productive hours a year during this period.

The facility features a PB 850 Special induction bending machine, which is able to achieve accuracies of about 10mm and about 0,5° angles. A semi- and automatic cold-bending computer-numerical control machine provides capacity to undertake 140 000 bends a year at accuracies of 22mm between centres and 0,2° angles. The plant also has a heat-treatment furnace and shot-blast booth.

Explosive welding presents optimal fabrication, maintenance and repair solutions for high-pressure vessels. With an almost naked-to-the-eye explosive process, this weld occurs at a speed of more than 8 000m/s and forms a permanent bond that delivers a host of benefits in comparison to other welding methods. Steinmüller Africa has offered explosive welding since 2012 and is the only company licenced and qualified to perform this, both on-site or off-site, for customers in the power generation, petrochemical, steel, paper, pulp and sugar and nuclear industries.

Explosive welding is a time-saving and cost-efficient method compared to other types of welding. This is considering that a combination of metals can be welded together, despite their dissimilarities. Moreover, the detonation is completed within milliseconds, reducing welding time. During the detonation, the oxides between the metal layers are removed, resulting in a weld that has a true metallurgical bond. It also only requires one weld whereas conventional welding requires two. Moreover, the bond does not require post-weld heat treatment. Meanwhile, the welds are unaffected by thermal cycling which is crucial for high-pressure equipment. Explosive welding prevents 99% of leakages, reducing the need for repair and maintenance.

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