Current Issue 52
S.A.M.E. Group is driving South Africa’s water infrastructure evolution, responding to the most pressing global challenges while enriching a nation in search of sustainability
Making Waves for Half a Century
Project Manager:Donovan Smith
Walk onto any wastewater works in South Africa and there is a good chance you will see S.A.M.E. equipment at the head of works, some as old as 50 years and still in a working condition; the design and quality of each machine standing the test of time as feasible options to repair and upgrade decades after installation.
The S.A.M.E. Group’s holistic solution to South African water infrastructure remains ahead of the pack in a country that continues to benefit from the Company’s turnkey consortium offering.
Driven by innovation and influences from the best technologies the world over, S.A.M.E. Group’s three divisions have subsequently become a mainstay in the nation’s overall strive for sustainable energy and utilities; epitomised by the Group’s bread and butter division, S.A.M.E. WATER.
“S.A.M.E. WATER remains the best in the industry and is able to harness both skills and passion for water in the services we deliver,” explains Managing Director, Frank Schulz. “Our team includes mechanical, process, civil and electrical engineers, project engineers and a superior design team who are meticulous in their approach to every project we commit to; and are highly specialised in turnkey projects and deliver world-class quality products, all backed by innovative design and cutting-edge technology for the water and wastewater industry.”
S.A.M.E. DREDGING forms the second component of the Group’s overall portfolio, offering specialised solutions in the dredging domain via a local manufacturing arm and the provision of operator services, operator training, dredger maintenance, and sediment blanket surveys.
The final strand, S.A.M.E. MATERIALS HANDLING “specialises in producing innovative ruggedly built conveying equipment that is capable of distributing, collecting, elevating, transporting, feeding, heating, cooling, drying and mixing a large variety of materials”, Schulz continues. “Our differentiator is this broad scope of manufacturing expertise, allowing the Company to adapt technologies and to design and build fit-for-purpose equipment unlike any other local company.”
The high standards set in the industry across the aforementioned board is further compounded by the strong relationships now established with its clientele, both in affirming its works so far, and in winning market share and contracts in the future.
Schulz states: “We have always made sure our after-sales services are on point in order to keep our clients happy. When it comes to attaining key contracts our aim is to offer the best services at the best possible price to still be competitive and always make sure we compile in all aspects for municipal tendering.”
Walk, talk and work as experts
Founded in 1966 by Willi Schulz - alongside Hans Adler - the name ‘Schulz’ has become as synonymous with S.A.M.E. Group as the Company has with the industry over the years; evolving from its origins in the fabrication and installation of portable water and wastewater treatment equipment to become an all-round specialist ready and able to adapt to complex African conditions.
“During the 1970s S.A.M.E. designed and manufactured the first bio-filter equipment in South Africa and started manufacturing clarifier equipment and chemical dosing equipment,” Frank Schulz recalls. “A deal was concluded between S.A.M.E. and Schrage, Germany, for the manufacture of local screening equipment and that same year grit removal technology was purchased from Germany.”
Combining German efficiencies and precision with the Company’s local knowledge and experience, the approach to ‘build it right the first time’ flourished and following an influx of more modernised technologies, an expansion into Cape Town in the 1990s, and the inception of its hugely successful division for the manufacture, sale and hire of inland hydraulic dredging equipment; S.A.M.E. Group as it is seen today was shaped.
“The Company continued to grow and developed expertise in electrical & instrumentation and project management,” Schulz adds. “S.A.M.E. invested in technology to offer solutions for mini treatment / package plants and equipment to increase capacity of existing plants that are overloaded.”
The culmination is a long-lasting quality renowned in the sector, a defiance to never leave a project unfinished, the willingness to go the extra mile to provide satisfactory service, and the ability to adapt quickly when it comes to learning from mistakes and embracing the latest innovations and technologies.
Schulz continues: “We walk, talk and work as the experts in our respective fields. We are known by our customers and competitors as credible subject matter experts, and we respect one another; recognising that our success depends upon the commitment, capabilities and diversity of everyone in the organisation.”
Extending the value chain
Celebrating its landmark 50th birthday this year, S.A.M.E. Group’s extensive projects completed in South Africa over the years are complemented by numerous exports of specialist equipment to neighbouring Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mauritius; as well as to markets further afield including Israel, Singapore, Hong Kong, Central Europe and the US.
Building a formidable array of strategic partners along the way, the Company is now in a prime position to be equally aggressive in its approach to the future, as it looks to gain a stronger market share in the water and wastewater arena.
“We have already established a satellite office in Cape Town and are in process of setting up in Port Elizabeth, Kwazulu Natal and our first satellite office outside South Africa in Kenya, Nairobi. These branches will be up and running before March, 2017,” Schulz notes.
Aiding sustainability within the confines of the business is an equally stringent commitment to personnel development and employee enrichment, focusing largely on localisation before unveiling the advantages of a refined and honed training and development initiative.
This loyalty is consequently repaid by the workforce to contribute towards a high retention rate; employees safe in the knowledge that their efforts will be rewarded.
Schulz says: “The diversity of businesses among our organisation offers employees a broad range of career path options. Employees can advance within their functional discipline, or progress along a path that provides experience across a range of functions.
“Based on performance, business needs and personal interest, employees can cross job functions, business segments and geographic boundaries as they advance within our organisation.”
And so, the organisation advances too. And it does so with the ambition of becoming a turnkey operator in water sanitation and purification in mind.
Schulz concludes: “In the years to come, the Company will be able to respond to diverse challenges in a world in which its clients will expect service providers to define the requirement and scope it, and compile all the technologies and service providers to address and solve it.
“The point about extending the value chain to purification is important as, in the future with decreasing water supply and an increased population, South Africa will have to reuse far more of its processed water than it currently does, and will have to adapt ‘grey water’ for industrial use and even for drinking.”