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Africa Outlook

manufacturing
lubricants

FUCHS SOUTHERN AFRICA

Fuchs Southern Africa may be part of one of the world’s leading manufacturing specialists, but is maintaining a strong local ethos via a series of capital investments and quality accreditations

Lubricants. Technology. People.

Writer:

Matthew Staff

Project Manager:

Eddie Clinton

As the world’s largest independent lubricant manufacturer, the influence and positioning within the global market has never been a problem for a company like Fuchs, but the ability to maintain such standards while adhering to local regulations and trends in each country of operation  requires both strategically-tailored processes, and internationally-relevant products.

This is a balancing act honed and perfected over the years by Fuchs Southern Africa, establishing the same reputation for outstanding performance and product quality that has become synonymous with the wider Group in its native Europe.

A subsidiary of Fuchs Petrolub SE, Fuchs Southern Africa is not only the largest independent manufacturer and supplier of specialist lubricants in the world, but achieves this through a continuous refinement of the highest quality technologies, personnel training, manufacturing techniques and materials; all of which combine to adhere to the Company’s motto of ‘Lubricants. Technology. People’.

Stemming from a family-run ethos, the ability to remain flexible and entrepreneurial is even more pivotal considering the continuously evolving nature of the industry it operates within and, even more critically, the diverse range of sectors its products are geared towards.

“The Company’s entire focus is in establishing ourselves as the foremost supplier of ultra-high quality and specialised lubricants to the automotive, mining and industrial sectors, backed up by highly trained lubrication specialists,” its website explains. “Lubricants. Technology. People. is our new global motto and as technology advances, Fuchs remains at the forefront of developing lubricants in cooperation with the world’s most innovative automotive and industrial OEM’s that provide the enhanced levels of performance that they require.”

Extensive range

In order to live up to the expectations that now befall a company of Fuchs’ stature, a dedication to excellence across all of its divisions is imperative, ensuring that the business is being seen to improve year on year, in line with the very latest market demands.

This is no mean feat considering the scale of said operations, however, with the vast range of highly specialised lubricants being manufactured for, and distributed to, the full array of industrial and consumer sectors including mining, energy, transport, construction, consumer goods, food & drink, retail, agriculture and forestry.

“This dedication to excellence is highlighted by the number of products within our extensive range that carry approvals from the world’s best known manufacturers,” the Company affirms.

In fulfilling the needs of such elite clients, Fuchs Southern Africa recently attained ISO 9001: 2008 certification, providing further proof not only of the Company’s extensive capabilities, but of its much more engrained ethos of continuous improvement and operational excellence.

“We are continually upgrading and expanding our state-of-the-art laboratory, and our blending and filling plants at our facility in Isando, Gauteng. Our ISO 9001: 2008 certification gives assurance that the quality of our products are always up to the required standards,” the Company continues. “In addition, Fuchs’ already expansive range of products is continually being expanded to cater for new lubrication requirements.”

All in all, a vast number of products is manufactured - 90 percent of all supply produced internally - at the Islando facility, while the Company’s status as a global heavyweight results in additional access to more than 2,500 products from the wider Fuchs Group.

The automotive sector is one such example where Fuchs thrives, and provides a key insight into the benefits that the Company can provide, not only in regards to the project offered to the domain, but in the longer-term attributes it caters for also; via service engineers, ongoing lab testing, specialised high quality products, ongoing technical services, and core training of its staff.

Fuchs elaborates: “Vehicles and equipment are expensive assets. Downtime and lost production can quickly cripple even the largest company. Our products and technical backup are designed to eliminate breakdowns. Improving your bottom line: that’s our bottom line.”

State-of-the-art

The grandeur of businesses to have enjoyed the Fuchs service over the years speaks for itself, with a whole host of household names relying on the Fuchs offering to maintain their own internationally-acclaimed standards.

Mercedes Benz, Volvo, Caterpillar, GM, Scania, Komatsu, BMW, Volkswagen, Renault, Airbus, Boeing, Porsche and Case New Holland represent a minute sample and give as clear an indication of any as to the quality that Fuchs aspires to.

“In order to ensure that we can meet the stringent requirements of these major companies, Fuchs Southern Africa is engaged in a continual and ongoing process to increase our blending and filling facilities at our plant in Islando,” the Company explains. “Following the recent expansion and upgrading of our filling lines and a now, state-of-the-art laboratory, we are soon to embark on a new expansion of our blending facilities.”

Under the century-old Noxal brand, Fuchs Southern Africa continues to manufacture specialised greases for mining and heavy duty industrial applications, complementing a general tripling in size of the Company’s operations in recent years in order to keep up with the capacities demanded of the business.

The human resource arm of the business adds further weight to internal proceedings, where the Company overcomes the challenge of finding the extent of necessary skills through a concerted in-house training programme that encourages internal promotion wholly, and is subsequently repaid with a very low turnover of staff.

Well-oiled machine

The Company’s people management strategy is compounded by its commitment to the BEE arena, and local corporate social responsibility considerations in general, across the region, epitomising its ability to be a large multinational organisation with the ability to act locally.

The Company notes: “When Fuchs Southern Africa (PTY) LTD stepped into the BEE arena, our goal was to leverage our experience, reputation and credibility within the business environment to become a major non-racial, entrepreneurial and socially responsible player within the Southern African business.

“Fuchs recognises and supports the ideals of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment and believes that it is imperative for us to be actively involved in the advancement of these ideals.”

With nearly 100 years of Group experience to pull upon - Fuchs Petrolub SE having been founded in Germany back in 1931 - it should come as no surprise that Fuchs remains flexible enough to adhere to such regional trends and market fluctuations, but this isn’t to say that the Southern African arm doesn’t leverage the wider Group on a more product-related basis as well.

With 55 branches across 45 countries, it is not only the largest independent lubricants manufacturer, but is also the ninth largest of all manufacturers within the oil and petroleum domain.

A subsequent dedication to ongoing R&D is imperative, ensuring that the most modern and advanced global technologies are being filtered through to individual markets such as Southern Africa.

“We have 4,112 employees worldwide, and as lubricants is the sole focus of our business, it is not surprising that for every 10 employees, we have one chemist employed in research and development,” the Company says. “In 2014 the group spent €32.9 million on research and development.”

Key strategic business partnerships on an equally international scale further complement Fuchs’ overall ambition to remain ahead of the industry curve - constantly improving areas of machinery, equipment, logistics, raw materials and bulk distribution as a consequence - while its mix of strong organic growth and strategic acquisitions looks set to lead the Company into the next generation of manufacturing prominence with a familiarly well-oiled machine.