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Donna Slater | 9 February 2023

Steinmüller Africa's current Pretoria-based 30 000 square metre facility under roof, which enables one-million productive hours each year. The company also has workshops in Sasolburg and Bethal.

Steam generation and high-pressure piping solutions company Steinmüller Africa celebrated 60 years of business in Africa on November 7, 2022.

The company started its presence in South Africa in 1962 with nothing but a post box, which was checked only when the company’s first MD Werner Oehler passed through South Africa en route to Australia from Germany.

It was at this location that Steinmüller Africa received its first invitation to tender – an Eskom tender for its Grootvlei power station. This invitation to tender led to the company building its first African head office, just outside of the Grootvlei power station, in Mpumalanga, in the 1970s.

The company has since conducted ongoing boiler and high-pressure piping maintenance at Eskom’s Arnot, Camden, Duvha, Hendrina, Matimba, Kriel, Tuthuka, Matla, Majuba, Grootvlei and Komati power stations.

Industries that have benefitted from Steinmüller Africa’s progression on the continent and beyond include power generation, pulp and paper, chemical and petrochemical and mineral beneficiation.

Its milestones are many and the company’s development is linked to South Africa’s industrial growth. The forerunners of this development were the building of boiler plants at Hendrina, Kriel, Duvha, Thuthuka, Majuba and Mathimba power stations from 1967 through to the early 1980s.

The 1990s saw Steinmüller Africa increase its South African footprint with the Sasol rejuvenation project, the replacement of make-gas boilers at Mossgas and Iscor blast furnaces.

It also expanded its African footprint by undertaking work for the Sappi mill, in Swaziland, and it conducted the refurbishment of the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco) plant.

The South Africa-based entity also took its footprint to Europe where it was contracted to fabricate pulverised coal-fired boilers in Iskenderun, Turkey.

Between 2004 and 2010 it also undertook the return to service of mothballed plants at the Camden, Komati and Grootvlei power stations, and began fabrication of boilers and high-pressure pipework at these plants.

In addition to its work for Zisco and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), Steinmüller Africa also has a footprint in Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia.

Steinmüller Africa human capital management executive GM Karin Kaempffer says the company’s progression has been linked to South Africa’s industrial development. “Initially – in the early to mid-1990s – our technical expertise was overseas-based and our offering to the African market was largely based on our local capabilities.”

She adds that Steinmüller Africa now employs advanced engineering tools in its South Africa-based design office and has invested significantly in automated welding technologies at its fabrication facilities.

“Both of these developments are aligned to our drive to improve productivity, shorten lead times and be a premier utility boiler and steam piping service provider on the African continent. Our growth and sustainability, however, has remained within the power generation and chemical sectors.

“Our expertise focuses on steam generation and reticulation, with an emphasis on complex, efficient high-temperature and high-pressure steam, meaning we are capable of providing solutions across the entire utility sector, where fuel efficiency is paramount,” says Kaempffer.

Steinmüller Africa, which has supported the majority of major power generation and chemical utilities in South Africa, was one of the earliest companies to undertake transformation and localisation activities in line with the broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) scorecard and has been a Level 1 contributor over the past several years.

“We are proud to be a highly ethical organisation and a preferred employer in our sector. We have trained and produced a significant number of artisans and technicians for the South African industry,” she says.

In addition to its BBBEE rating and local skills development, Steinmüller Africa has contributed significant funding to 24 tertiary institutions across Africa to benefit science and technology undergraduates.

“We have covered a great amount of ground over the past 60 years, both geographically and on the innovation front. We look forward to another 60 years of growth, to the betterment of our company, the communities in which we work, and the industrial sectors we serve,” concludes Kaempffer.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.

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