Danie Van Wyk Jnr., Senior Technical Manager and Reuben Mabunda, Director, J.A. Engineering

J.A. Engineering provides equipment to mines across the African continent.

Danie-van-Wyk-BLOGWith over 30 years of experience in manufacturing, supplying and repairing equipment in the coal-mining sector, can you provide our readers with a brief overview of J.A. Engineering and your opera-tions in South Africa?

Danie Van Wyk Jnr. (DVW): J.A. Engineering was originally formed as a need for a quick responding supplier of parts and services to the African continent. Our main focus has been on the supply of new and repair gear boxes as an alternative to OEM equipment. As customer needs have arisen, J.A. Engineering has expanded with a strong focus on listening to our customers, and providing research and development as well as manu-facturing. Our vision is to become a global leader in the engineering and manufacturing of parts and equip-ment. Our new shareholders have afforded us the opportunity to expand our operations further. Part of this expansion has been the purchase of an additional 33,000 square meters of land in Middelburg as well as a 40% increase in stock holding. Our focus will remain predominately in the coal-mining sector and is based on the same principles of listening to what our customers need by partnering with them to see how we can re-duce costs in a tough economy and by improving quality and training on product use.

Reuben Mabunda (RM): The marketing strategy I am focusing on will take the company to the next level in that J.A. Engineering is recognized as a prominent leader in the coal-mining sector.

J.A. Engineering invests significantly to improve your product offerings. What innovation and im-provements have you seen in some of your gearboxes as a result of your research and development efforts?

DVW: J.A. Engineering spends a significant amount of time and money in research and development, invest-ing approximately 10% of profits. Our strategy for reverse engineering is not to copy and paste but to re-engineer and deliver a superior product to the market. J.A Engineering is always looking for ways to keep up with advancements in manufacturing technology, which means partnering with global business partners. An example of this is a wheel unit that we manufacture, which is 30% more efficient than that of our closest com-petitors. J.A Engineering provides complete machine solutions including remote control systems. The principle of continuous improvement will always apply with us.

Lead times and importing equipment are key challenges for the sector. What is your strategy to optimize your supply and services across the continent?

DVW: Partnering with our global businesses allows us to expand us to expand our operations more efficiently than trying to do it all in house. Our success has been our suppliers’ success in that they are able to grow with us by creating the ability to re-invest in their respective business and substantial additional capacity for us. J.A. Engineering has increased our stock holding to suit market needs.

Moving beyond the borders of South Africa, which jurisdictions are most appealing to J.A. Engineering?

DVW: South Africa represents the majority of our business. We currently operating in Australia, China, and India and have plans to conclude a deal with an American company.

RM: In terms of Africa, J.A. Engineering is currently working at supplying parts in Botswana and we are put-ting more emphasis on the development of these markets. However, we need to make sure we have a sus-tainable supply to the African market before further moving outside of these borders. A key focus for J.A. Engineering is not to lose its quality in the pursuit of new business. If we are going to undertake new products or business the aim would be to be the best in the world. Quality and partnerships are above everything else very important to us.

J.A. Engineering has secured contracts to work with some of the largest multinational mining houses in the world supplying leading OEM equipment as well as alternate parts to other OEM equipment. What has contributed to your tenders being successfully accepted by these companies?

DVW: The market is becoming more competitive as the price of coal decreases in a tough economy. There are not a lot of companies that do what we do. A key contributor to our success is having the ability to listen and react to our customer needs. With a proud product history it has been more achievable in certain markets like Australia, where we have a successful agency. J.A. Engineering has also been in discussions with select government departments to see how we can help the mid-tiers and junior miners moving forward. A concern has always been small alternative part suppliers providing parts that do not at least meet OEM quality stand-ards.

RM: J.A. Engineering’s ability to trial a unit with our customers on a partnership basis has always been an advantage when tendering for new contracts.

What reassurance can you give your clients that by selecting a local South Africa manufacturer that they will receive the same quality management and international standards as a larger multinational?

DVW: We have a proven track record with quality products in mind. Where local South African manufacturing does not meet the highest standard that we require we source products, services and experienced people from the best in the world. We have engineers based in America and Australia strengthening our quality phi-losophy on a daily basis. We comply with all the necessary requirements by the Mine, Health and Safety Act and provide for that through our engineering department. There are risk assessment, training of operators, field service standby and manuals available for the products and systems that we install.

J.A. Engineering has continued to see growth despite difficult market conditions. How would you like to see J.A. Engineering evolve in the medium term?

DVW: In the medium-term, the target is to take J.A. Engineering to a seven-figure turnover company. We have done a forecast for this figure with our planned expansion and believe it is achievable. By partnering with the coal mining industry we can create a cost effective and sustainable model for the future. The past 30 years has been a solid foundation for J.A. Engineering to become a company that reaches its full potential.

This interview was part of research being conducted by GBR for its upcoming Mining in Africa Country Investment Guide (MACIG) 2015. To participate in this report, please contact Sharon Saylor at ssaylor@gbreports.com.

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