R9m plant upgrade for Lighting Structures

The upgrade promises more capacity, efficiency and new telecoms, power and lighting structures for sub-Saharan Africa.

July 28, 2011

The LeBLANC Jasco Group has invested R9 million to upgrade the plant and equipment of its Lighting Structures division. This will increase output capacity, drive cost efficiencies in the local market, enable the development of new products, and increase the Africa penetration of LeBLANC Lighting Structures — which already has a dominant share of the local and African market for monopole type steel masts for lighting.

Lighting Structures specializes in the engineering and design, fabrication, logistics and installation of Hi masts, rail-low masts, mid-hinge masts, hydro masts, access masts, street lighting poles, supports for solar structures as well as a comprehensive range of monopole masts for the communication industry. Says Francois van Zyl, CEO of LeBLANC Jasco: “The capex injection will provide a major boost for operations with the overhaul of plant and equipment introducing efficiencies such as reduced manufacturing time, less waste and overall improvement in quality.  Also the new plant and equipment will enabling us to ramp up production and, of course, help protect margins in an increasingly competitive environment.  As importantly, the revamp of our facilities will facilitate the production of new products for the telecoms, power and lighting infrastructure industry and, in particular, these markets in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Plant improvements

At the Lighting Structures plant, layout has been redesign to improve process flow, computerized engineering design software has been upgraded and new equipment has been acquired. A new 7m, 600 ton press for bending plate and sheet-work will allow for thicker, quicker more accurate bending of sheet and plate, while the installation of a 6m guillotine that can cut up to 16mm plate will see thicker and larger size plates cut quicker with a neater, cleaner cut.

Says Van Zyl: “These changes will introduce overall efficiencies, eliminating mistakes, the number of off cuts and remedial work, as well as a reduction in labour and manufacturing cost further down the production line.

In addition, the new centralized overhead yard crane with its 600m boom increases load capacity by 250%, and storage and work area by approximately 800%. And with increased mobility and control of stock and processed goods, complete materials handling and logistics processes are improved.”

For customers the benefits are numerous. “Our increased capacity will result in quicker lead times with the assurance that our products will be of a high quality and competitively priced. But there’s also the introduction of new products to look forward to and our active design capability.”

New products

In sub-Saharan Africa the conditions and challenges are quite different to those in South Africa. This has helped define the new products Lighting Structures will introduce to this market.

Explains Van Zyl: “Africa is an emerging market with a fast developing infrastructure. Its wealth of mineral resources it will continue to drive opportunities for companies that offer infrastructure products and service in the power, lighting and telecommunication industry sectors.  However, there are a number of logistics challenges in sub-Saharan Africa to overcome.

“For rural areas, towers, masts and other applications need to be lighter, easier to assemble and erect, and require minimal maintenance. Our investments will allow us to innovate, developing new designs that meet these requirements, and enabling us to produce quality, highly competitive products for this market.”

Lighting Structures will leverage the expertise and networks of sister company LeBLANC Communications, a global communications technology provider in the LeBLANC Group, to market and distribute products into its target markets in sub-Saharan Africa. These countries will include all of the SADC, Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Angola, DRC, Ghana and Nigeria.

Concludes Van Zyl: “The investment in Lighting Structures will drive the growth strategy of the LeBLANC Jasco Group and further improve our competitiveness. We look forward to an exciting period of innovation and expansion.”

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