The modernisation of our Sabie factory is close to complete.
This is another substantial capital investment, following the modernisation of our Mossel Bay factory. “It bears out our confidence in the future of the timber treatment industry, despite all the challenges we’re facing,” said Bertus. “It also shows our commitment to creating a great working environment for our team.
“The new facilities have really brightened people’s moods.”
Sabie will have its own robot, Louis, who will do the heavy lifting of bulk materials and heavy packaging and, like any good robot, will wash up afterwards too. Louis will be working too hard to chat much with his robot colleagues Oliver and Lydia, who work at the Mossel Bay factory, but as a later model will outdo even them in sophistication.
The modernisation was an extensive project. It included breaking down and removing the old manufacturing plant; opening up the factory to let in natural light; installing new floors; reinstalling the electrification; installing the automation and breaking down and rebuilding the office block.
The Sabie factory will have its own robot, Louis, who will do the heavy lifting and, like any good robot, wash up afterwards too.
“All of this happened while we continued to manufacture CCA. The team did amazingly well!” said Bertus.
There are now clear views from the factory, with natural light flooding both the factory and offices. These are elevated, looking over the factory floor and with views outside.
“We’re questioning the old methods and modernising them. The old is no longer good enough, nor reliable enough. The new factory allows us to say with even greater confidence that we deliver a product of superior quality. Real-time tracking gives us oversight of every aspect of the manufacturing process.
“It also puts us in the position of being able to manufacture alternative, new-generation wood preservative products, should there be any regulatory difficulties with popular products.”
In the upgraded factory, the raw materials are transferred through the factory and manufactured into CCA with little human assistance.
Delivery quantities are measured automatically, too. A truck drives into the facility, connects the pipe, the operator makes the selection, and the correct quantity of timber preservative is transferred.
We have learnt from and improved on the automation of the Mossel Bay factory. As one example, the Sabie facility has a full Scada system, allowing all the processes to be viewed from phones and operated through the cloud. It also logs the history of every action at the plant.
Our Sabie Factory Manager Elwin Meyer said the most challenging aspect of the project had been planning sufficiently far ahead to ensure that materials and skilled contractors were available on schedule in the rural town. “We did well time-wise, starting the remodelling of the factory in March last year, and installing the tanks and pipe work in December.
“The new factory is spotlessly clean,” he said. “Safety has improved because workers are not handling the chemicals as much, and they are doing less hard labour. Efficiency will also increase dramatically.
“The team’s motivation, which was always good, has improved 100% because working conditions are so good. The workers have new kit, showers, a relaxation area and a laundry room. From the factory, you can see the mountain and views all around. It’s mind-boggling what a difference all of this makes.”
Brenda, who works in the office, was “very happy in my old office space, with a window to see part of the factory.
“But when we moved to the new office at the top, the natural light made a big difference to my mood. The view is of pine plantations and beautiful mountains. One can now watch as a storm approaches in the afternoons.
“We had a fiscal shrike feeding her two babies at the fence, right where I could see and hear them. As soon as she stopped feeding them, they would scream their little lungs out … We’ve had quite a few species here which we never see in town. To watch them might inspire some new thoughts and ideas, or even some solutions.”