Cape Town-based industrial equipment supplier Air Compressor Engineering (ACE) is exploring strategies to leverage its 36 years of experience to expand its market share on the African continent.
Company representative Geoff Ellis tells Engineering News that, in addition to supplying the local market with high-quality compressors, ACE provides maintenance and repair work and assembles reciprocating compressor ranges.
“In terms of sales, we are very active in several African countries and the strategy we are exploring will capitalise on the headway gained to date, with customer retention being one of our key aims,” he explains.
The strategy will also consider if working with local agents, establishing local offices or collaborating with local companies in strategic countries will be more feasible.
Ellis notes that keeping abreast of market-related developments has also helped the company attract new customers over the years and is an aspect on which the company continues to focus.
“Our longevity in the compressed-air market and gaining customer referrals and recommendations have also helped to ensure steady and solid growth. Further, having gained an understanding of client requirements across a variety of industries has also helped,” he elaborates.
With more companies emphasising energy saving, ACE is also aiming to reposition itself as a market leader in the field of energy efficiency by offering real solutions, Ellis says.
He highlights the company’s flagship range of Mattei rotary-vane air compressors, manufactured by Italy-based manufacturer Mattei Group, as an example of its commitment to providing the most cost-effective and cost-efficient products for the local market.
Ellis tells Engineering News that ACE has been supplying products from Mattei Group to the African market for more than 25 years.
“Mattei has a good product development regime and recently unveiled the Maxima Xtreme prototype at the Hannover Messe Industrial Automation Expo, which took place from April 13 to 17 in Germany.
“The range emphasises energy saving, with the original Maxima range already producing some of the highest levels of compressed-air volume per kilowatt, compared with other compressors globally,” he elaborates.
Ellis adds that the Maxima Xtreme aims to improve on the high output of the original range while incorporating the renowned Mattei reliability.
“We have stuck to our guns as far as quality is concerned and have retained business relationships with our Italian suppliers for more than 25 years, which is why we are confident that the Maxima Xtreme, once launched onto the local market, will help further that goal.”
He also mentions that ACE offers the Mattei energy recovery box (ERB) – a plug-and-play heat recovery system that can be coupled with any rotary-type compressor. The ERB uses heat-transfer technology to generate free hot water for sanitary and/or industrial processes.
“By offering products like this, ACE ensures that, during these times of energy-capacity uncertainty, reducing power use is at the top of any company’s agenda,” Ellis says.
ACE was established in 1979 and has always had a local assembly facility that uses local content. The company assembles reciprocating compressor ranges from 3 kW to 18.5 kW.
“Having the ability to assemble means that we have a lot of flexibility in terms of production and are able to switch to nonstandard units for clients with unique requirements,” he explains, adding that the company offers in-house design, assembly, testing and commissioning services at its Cape Town plant.
Ellis attributes most of these capabilities to the company’s success in retaining the experience it has gained over the years through its zero staff turnover, with most of its technical employees being in the company’s service for more than 15 years.
An experienced staff complement that fully understands company culture enables ACE to swiftly react and respond to most eventualities that arise in the field.
“Ensuring that clients install the correct equipment for the job is also of great importance to us. “This means understanding the customer’s needs and offering the best options available, which is not always easy if budgets are tight. However, we emphasise long-term sustainability when communicating with customers,” he concludes.