Pipes, Pumps and Valves Africa
In a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive landscape, one pump company is taking the initiative to grow its footprint and its market size. Pipes, Pumps and Valves Africa met up with the new management of Pumps For Africa to find out more.
End users are increasingly demanding integrated solutions across a broad range of engineered products while minimising supply-chain complexity.
Pumps For Africa, South Africa’s first and longest operating online pump store, have a solid history of supplying a range of solutions to businesses all over Sub-Saharan Africa.
Director Nic Winslow says the company has a long-standing reputation for its excellent products and services.
“Growing the business from this base has been our priority,” he says indicating that the company is the first choice in pump suppliers to a majority of industrial, mining, and process companies. “We also supply the public with pumps needed for domestic purposes like boreholes, fish tanks, water features and the like. No pump is too big or small.”
It is in this diverse offering that Pumps For Africa’s strength lies, explains Winslow. In recent months the company has become a Grundfos authorised distributor, a Southern hemisphere distributor for Ebara, a KSB agent as well as RNE Pumps.
“In the current economic climate, the business case for diversity is stronger than ever. We believe it is an important asset for the company’s growth,” says Winslow. “
The benefits of a diverse and wide range of products hold many benefits for their customers, according to Winslow.
“It is about creating an environment where our customers can have all their pump needs effectively met. The quick delivery of ordered pumps is one of our biggest goals. It is not just about having a diverse product range, but also being able to deliver the products efficiently and as quickly as possible.”
Winslow says by being more diverse the company finds itself in a position to constantly improve keeping turnover at high levels. “It also ensures we remain competitive and ahead of the pack. It is an increasingly competitive market out there. Agility, flexibility, diversity are what makes a company stand out.”
As part of its work towards delivering an improved and more diverse service, the company has teamed up with First Seal, one of the leading mechanical seal manufacturers in the country. This allows Pumps For Africa now to not only supply mechanical seals and gland packing but also repair and refurbish mechanical seals.
“We have increased our overall after-sales services and we guarantee post-sales technical assistance with pump repair and spare-part supply even after the standard warranty period,” says Winslow. “We also offer maintenance and repairs on pumps. We have in house facilities and friendly staff to strip pumps and quote on repairs, rewinding, mechanical seal and bearing replacements, motor rewinds, even new paint, leaving your pump looking brand new.”
Winslow says with some 44 brands on their books the company has been able to extend its client range as they can meet a wide variety of needs. Lead times to deliver are also much faster reducing downtime at plants significantly.
“One of the bigger benefits is that a client needs a variety of pumps for several operations can make one call and have all their needs met. It is far more efficient a process also from a cost perspective.”
Standing out through innovation
Another important development at Pumps For Africa has been its move to invest in research and development. “Innovation is an important part of our strategy,” says Winslow. “It is not just about being able to service the full market by delivering quality products, good after-sales service and maintenance, but about improving their operations and minimizing cost as much as we can.”
Cost remains a driving force in the pump industry. ”Reducing overheads and containing cost is at the forefront of all operations no matter the sector. Finding innovative and cost-effective solutions makes sense and will bring huge benefit to our customers.”
Director Dennis Winslow adds that with topics such as resource efficiency and sustainability gaining hugely in importance, it has made sense to invest time and effort into innovation at Pumps For Africa in recent months. The company are proud to deliver two brand-new products to the market that they say will make a difference to operators wanting to contain cost and introduce more efficiency.
New solutions on the table
The mining industry is one of the sectors that have been under tremendous pressure to streamline operations, minimizing cost and reducing the amount of electricity used. With this in mind, the Pumps For Africa team have worked hard to deliver a new impeller for slurry applications that decreases electricity usage ultimately reducing cost by as much as 40%.
“The impeller is designed as a total replacement and nothing on the pump has to be modified to accept it,” explains Winslow. “Essentially the product draws far fewer amps than a normal impeller.”
The product has been the outcome of much work on the mechanical seal side at First Seal. “Our work on mechanical seals onto slurry pumps led to the development of the impeller,” explains Winslow. “We believe this product can make a world of difference to the cost of operations especially in the mining sector where energy usage is high.”
A second innovation has been the development of XPEL-IT, a new generation labyrinth seal, that ensures no water or any other product enters the bearing housing.
“We can virtually guarantee this as there are four areas where we seal ingress,” says Winslow. “This is a miniature pumping system that pumps the product out before reaching the bearings. It can be fitted to any make of pump and uses a propeller system. Pumps require no modification to have this product fitted.”
A main benefit is the durability of the components used for the product making replacement unnecessary unlike the case with traditional rubber components used to keep liquid out of bearing houses. “The life expectancy on this product is massive. The only thing that could make it fail really is if the whole pump fails or if it is inadvertently damaged with a tool of some sort.”