The valves industry provides a good example of a flourishing South Africa-China partnership, as joint ventures are increasingly being undertaken between Chinese manufacturers and South African importers for the design, manufacture and distribution of high-quality specialised valves, says valves outsourcing company Sino Specialised Valve Outsourcing (Sino SVO) managing member John McMenamin.
He notes that some of the applications required of valves in the South African mining industry are quite unique, leading to the development of innovative valve designs in the country.
Chinese companies have had to contend for some time with an international perception of the country’s exports being of a low quality. However, McMenamin stresses that many Chinese valve manufacturers are producing high-quality products at competitive prices and that partnering with them can, thus, prove highly advantageous for South African companies.
One such partnership that is in progress will result in the manufacturing of a specialised butterfly valve, for which various premachined parts will be supplied by a Chinese manufacturer and fitted into valves locally machined from South African castings.
A South African-designed control valve will also be manufactured by a Chinese manufacturer under another partnership, and the companies will share the international marketing of the valves. Another agreement involves the manufacturing of two South African valve patents by a Chinese manufacturer under licence to the South African patent holder.
McMenamin points out that many Chinese valve manufacturers are highly accredited, conforming to international standards such as ISO 9001, Conformité Européenne (European Conformity) and Pressure Equipment Directive standards, as well as American Petroleum Institute (API) 600 and API 6D.
In addition, the export departments of many of these valve manufacturers are highly efficient and offer fast response times to requests for quotations and order follow-up enquiries. “Quotations invariably also include drawings, data sheets and product photos, which greatly facilitate and improve the quality and success of importers’ quotations to their customers,” says McMenamin.
He further points out that the six-hour time difference between South Africa and China is particularly advantageous, with quotation queries submitted during South African office hours often answered by the next morning. European and American manufacturers’ responses to requests for quotations take longer and delivery times are commonly much longer in comparison, and deliveries from Chinese manufacturers are also generally received within a shorter time period from the date of order placement and at lower landed costs than those imported from Europe or the US, he says.
“Quick deliveries, together with the assurance of receiving high-quality valves at competitive prices, put South African companies dealing with Chinese manufacturers in an advantageous position in relation to those dealing with European and American manufacturers.”
McMenamin believes that the facilitation of more interaction between South African valve importers and Chinese valve manufacturers will benefit both parties. “The development of trust between South African and Chinese companies is vitally important and can best be achieved and accelerated by working through an accredited South Africa-based agent working in the best interests of both parties,” he concludes.