Strategic Valves: Fluid Control Hub for Mbombela

In response to a market need for specialised services within the fluid control industry, steel, tube and engineering product supplier Stewarts & Lloyds has established a standalone branch in Mbombela, Nelspuit to cater to local demands, but also tap into the export markets of Mozambique and Eswatini, enhancing logistical efficiency and stock availability and affordability for clients.

The establishment of this branch not only bolstered the local economy by generating employment opportunities but also streamlined the supply chain for various industries, including mining, industrial, agricultural and plumbing, says Stewarts & Lloyds Fluid Control Mbombela branch manager Andre Swart.

Recognising the lack of comprehensive services in Mbombela for the mining and processing industries, the branch strategically stocked valves, pipes, pumps, tanks and associated fittings in various materials, from steel to polyvinyl chloride, or PVC.

The staff also underwent extensive training to assist clients effectively, enabling clients to make informed decisions about their requirements.

Additionally, its strategic proximity to neighbouring countries has facilitated seamless business transactions with Mozambique and Eswatini, with Swart noting that the branch also “swiftly became renowned for its extensive stock range, encompassing sizes from 8 mm to 600 mm, emerging as a leading supplier of pumps and tanks in the region”.

He explains that by maintaining a diverse stock range on-site, customers are spared the delays associated with sourcing materials from distant hubs like Johannesburg.

The standalone Stewarts & Lloyds Fluid Control further also set itself apart by offering specialised fabrication services on various materials, Swart adds, noting that the branch is supported by a skilled estimating department, in Johannesburg, and dedicated product specialists in the company’s valves, pumps and irrigation divisions.

This support allows the branch to ensure comprehensive support for its clientele, he says, noting that it is able to do so through identifying and addressing gaps in the market.

Moreover, he notes the branch’s commitment to innovation was evident in its proactive approach to problem-solving.

For instance, it collaborated with clients such as paper manufacturer Sappi and exclusive lodges in the Kruger area, offering innovative solutions to issues like blocked valves and high lime content in borehole water.

“These initiatives not only saved clients’ money but also enhanced operational efficiency,” Swart says.

Additionally, Stewarts & Lloyds Fluid Control ensured consistent stock availability through a substantial warehouse and a cash shop catering to daily industry needs.

In cases where materials were not readily available, a dedicated distribution centre in Johannesburg supplemented the supply chain, with regular deliveries maintaining optimal stock levels.

Notable Achievement

One notable achievement for the Mbombela branch was its successful involvement in the construction of the Sigombeni Rural Portable Water System project, in Eswatini.

Swart explains that, in addition to navigating through challenging terrain and adverse weather conditions, the project involved the installation of a gravity-fed pipeline stretching 5.6 km from the Mtilane river to Sigombeni.

The accessibility of the terrain presented the first major hurdle, as it spanned mountainous landscapes, meaning that the team encountered difficulties in reaching the designated locations.

The challenging weather conditions, compounded by the rugged geography, required innovative solutions, Swart notes.

He explains that parts of the pipeline had to be buried, while others were elevated on plinths, adapting continuously to the shifting terrain. Specially rigged tractors were also employed in certain areas to transport materials to their intended locations.

The project also demanded precise pressure requirements, ranging from 6 bar to 40 bar, adding to the complexity, he says.

However, despite these challenges, the team “persevered over a gruelling six-month period” and, owing to meticulous planning and effective communication, the project was completed on time and within the allocated budget.

This achievement was to the satisfaction of all stakeholders involved, Swart says, highlighting that following the successful completion of this project, the branch in Mbombela rapidly gained a reputation for its extensive inventory of fluid materials.

Further, it also established itself as a leading and cost-effective supplier of pumps and tanks in the region.

This accomplishment underscored the branch’s commitment to providing top-notch solutions in the fluid control industry, Swart concludes.

Original article available here: https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/strategic-valves-fluid-control-hub-for-mbombela-2023-11-10