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Africa Outlook

pandrol south africa
guy turner
rail fastenings

PANDROL SOUTH AFRICA

Through close partner relationships and leveraging Group knowledge and strategy, Pandrol South Africa brings a globally-renowned product to the African customer

End-to-End Providers of Trusted Rail Track Solutions

Writer:

Emily Jarvis

Project Manager:

Tom Cullum

Pandrol has been involved in the rail fastenings industry since 1917 and has supplied fastenings to more than 415 railroads, surpassing the supply of two billion clips worldwide. With an aim to deliver the world’s best rail track solutions to more than 100 countries worldwide, the Pandrol Group of Companies combine leading research and development (R&D) with specialisation in rail fastening products and installation; track engineering, maintenance and analysis; noise and vibration reduction; and rail electrification.

As part of the DELACHAUX Group, Pandrol is able to take advantage of world-class R&D testing facilities and leverage synergies and methodologies for continuous improvement, with tried and tested production techniques to provide the best customer solution. This year, the Company will focus on investing money back into the production and quality control side of the business in order to remain a market leader.

Compiled of three shareholders in South Africa – Sturrock & Robson, Pandrol Ltd and Sphere Holdings – Pandrol’s presence in the country has been a welcome support for the local mining industry since establishment in 1937. Originally manufacturing elastic rail spikes, the Company quickly developed the PRclip, which formed the building blocks for a whole range of further rail clips and fastenings, including the E clip and Fastclip. “After being acquired by DELACHAUX Group in 2003, Pandrol was able to significantly strengthen its market position and focus on an expansion strategy beyond South Africa,” says Guy Turner, Managing Director of Pandrol South Africa, adding that the Company has seen a yearly sales growth of 20 percent as a result of this.

Accompanied by full sales and after-sales technical support, customers across a wide Sub-Saharan African reach - including South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Lesotho, Swaziland and the DRC – enjoy high quality service and a reliable product. “Our products are manufactured locally, which allows us to provide innovative and cost-specific solutions to our customer’s unique requirements, as well as providing professional local support through our experienced staff who have extensive local knowledge of the rail industry,” explains Turner. In support of this, the South African arm of the company is ISO 9001 and 14001 accredited, proudly maintaining a level 4 B-BBEE status.

“As a South African company, it is important for us to grow our local ties and where possible, we hire local people and work with local suppliers. Our B-BBEE score and supplier development commitments combined with our internationally-renowned range of products puts us in good stead as a reputable and trustworthy rail partner,” the Managing Director further adds.

Improving efficiency

In order to cater for future growth prospects, Pandrol will continue to improve its plant efficiencies with an injection of an additional R10 million for the manufacturing production lines and quality control departments. Furthermore, by introducing new products into various territories across Africa, the Company hopes to revitalise the continent’s railway lines.

“In many of our territories, theft of rail fastenings is a major problem in terms of replacement cost and safety of trains. Therefore, we intend to upscale our offering of products in this area. This is how we differentiate ourselves from the competition; by developing solutions applicable to the site conditions and customer requirements.” says Turner.

Pandrol has developed numerous solutions to solve the problem of theft such as the anti-vandal, anti-sabotage clips and a further solution called the TR2000 is due to be launched on the market soon.

Moreover, Pandrol is currently working on a number of other projects in Sub-Saharan Africa as Turner further details:  “In addition to working on new rail lines in Zambia and Mozambique, we have a number of rehabilitation projects underway. South African sales are possible due to our long-term relationship with the likes of Transnet and PRASA. We work in tandem with their expansion plans and market demand strategy in order to deliver a win-win partnership.”

Through regular contact with key business partners and external customer satisfaction surveys, Pandrol is able to identify any areas of weakness and implement strategies to address them. “Not only is Pandrol South Africa a supplier, but we pride ourselves on our position as a local solution provider. We aim to surpass customer service level requirements through regular meetings and ensuring there is communication at all levels.

“As such, our employees go through an extensive training programme and regular performance appraisals. Pandrol is proud of its apprenticeship programme in partnership with Technotrain, a Sturrock and Robson technical training institution. We spend a minimum of R6 million per annum on skills development with a focus on retention of staff,” highlights Turner.

Between 2011 and 2014, Technotrain has shown a 140 percent year-on-year volume growth and the Company is due to open a new training facility in Kwazulu-Natal this month to cater for even further growth. 

Capital investment

Going forward, Pandrol will focus on three key capital investment programmes: increasing automation, further improving quality inspection, and investing in the latest technology to ensure it maintains a leading position.

After achieving the above goals, in the long-term, Pandrol strives to maintain its market-leading position in South Africa while growing its geographical presence in other African territories, introducing new rail fastenings and growing its market share in the secondary business areas of welding products and crane rail fastenings.

“Strengthening our business relationships across the continent will play a crucial role in securing our long-term position in Africa. Given that the continent is witnessing huge growth levels at the moment, infrastructure projects - including rail – promise to be a prominent feature on the economic development landscape for years to come,” concludes Turner.