Mpumalanga-based valves suppliers Bilfinger Intervalve Africa, a subsidiary of Bilfinger Power Africa based in Rivonia, is supplying high-pressure (HP) steam valves to the power and petrochemicals industries and becoming more active in supplying to the mining industry.
This was prompted by the rise in mining companies starting to install their captive power plants to produce their own energy.
Therefore, Bilfinger Intervalve Africa GM Frank Bekkens has left the door open to the possibility of the company entering the mining market to supply mines that have started producing their own megawatts. “We currently supply coal-fired power producers, such as power utilities and petrochemicals companies that have been using high-pressure steam boilers to produce energy.
“Mines that have started installing the infrastructure to produce their own megawatts will have to do preventive maintenance on the valves used in the process within the next five to six years, and that is where we see a possible gap in the market,” Bekkens notes.
“The power industry remains the biggest industry we deliver to. Our core business is the supply of high-quality HP steam valves which are required by fossil-fuel-fired power stations that provide electricity for the country. We also supply the mining and paper industries, but on a very small scale, as they use low-pressure valves,” Bekkens states.
The company, which supplies a range of valves from its warehouse in Bethal, Mpumalanga, supplies HP steam valves that vary between 25 mm to 330 mm in size and can handle temperatures of between 500° C and 600° C and pressures of up to 500 bar.
“The valves supplied to the industries and new builds are part of the controls system of the boilers. The valves are designed to meet the specification for the HP steam applications.
Bekkens adds that the company’s valves are ordered according to customer specifications while also complying with strict international codes and local regulations of the power and petrochemicals industries.
“As Bilfinger Intervalve Africa retains a distribution agreement with original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) which own several multinational valve brands, we order the valves to specification in accordance with the code requirements – such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers standards or European Standards – as requested by our clients, based on the application.
Bekkens notes that Bilfinger Intervalve Africa also provides customers with products that are high in local content. To ensure local content of about 50% to 60%, valve bodies and parts are imported from the OEMs and stored in the warehouse in Bethal, where they are drilled, machined and assembled to complete valves in accordance with the required client specification.
Along with the assembly of valves, Bekkens adds, the workshop can also refurbish valves and any valve components, such as machining body seats and rebuilding parts. Qualified artisans and technicians are also at hand to provide wide-ranging field service across the country.
“As the life span of valves varies according to the medium flowing through them, we ensure we have several teams of field service workers who . . . inspect, assemble, lap and polish the valves, as well as assist in or conduct pressure tests to comply with international standards and client requirements . All work in the workshop and fieldwork is done according to strict quality control. Bilfinger Intervalve is ISO 9001:2008-, ISO 18001- and ISO 14000- compliant.
Bekkens adds that the future of the local valves industry lies in the refurbishing and maintenance of existing plants, as well as with the rise of renewable energy as a worldwide trend, leading to the installation of fewer fossil- fuel-fired plants.
“[T]o remain a dedicated supplier, we have to continue maintaining the local content percentile, as valves have been earmarked by the Department of Trade and Industry as one of the 42 commodities . . . to be produced locally. We constantly look into ways of enhancing general growth in the sectors in which we function.”
Bekkens notes that, while the Bilfinger Intervalve Africa service and workshop teams provide valuable services for customers, more skills and artisans are needed within the industry. The company does provide training with the assistance of the OEMs that have the programmes to promote skills in the valves sector.
He states that companies should “train for their needs with the view that it should benefit the country as a whole”. The continued training provided by companies such as Bilfinger Intervalve and the OEMs ensures development in this regard.