Kwikot: With age, comes wisdom

By: Kelly-Ann Prinsloo – writer

‘Expertise’ is a word synonymous with Kwikot, a company that has been in the manufacturing business for over 100 years

Kwikot, proudly South African manufacturer of domestic and industrial hot water storage systems, was established in 1903 and, as the old adage says, with age has come an uncommon amount of wisdom about the local manufacturing sector in general and hot water storage systems in particular.

 

Over the years, Kwikot has become something of a household name in hot water storage systems, and the company’s manufacturing processes are, in part, responsible. Kwikot was the first company to manufacture electric water heaters to the South African National Standards (SANS) specification (SANS 151), and was the first company to obtain the SABS 600kPa mark of approval. The company has been associated with the SABS for over 50 years.

The rest is history
In 1971, Kwikot introduced high pressure geysers into the South African market. In order to achieve this, the company, in association with German manufacturers, used wet enamel coating technology. In 1999, the first continuous dry enamel electrostatic coating line was commissioned. This allowed for increased production, quality and efficiency. In 2007 a second continuous electrostatic coating line was commissioned, and a fully-automated boiler welding and assembly line was commissioned in August 2008.

Local is lekker
“In terms of the geysers themselves, more than 90% is local content,” said Herman Weber, Kwikot’s technical director. There are some components which cannot be made locally (for various reasons) and are therefore imported. There are other components, besides the geysers, like geyser trays, elements, industrial water heaters (up to 30 000ℓ) that are manufactured in-house.

Kwikot also has a small solar manufacturing section but, Weber said, the market is still mostly untested.

 

In terms of whether or not Kwikot sources raw materials locally, Weber explained that the main component of the geysers is steel and, because of the steel import parity, whether one imports steel or sources it locally, the price is very much the same. The problem comes in with transporting steel. Kwikot brings in 20 tonne coils of steel, which are then processed at the plant in Benoni, on Johannesburg’s East Rand. Bringing 20 tonne steel coils in on a ship means one coil in one container. Kwikot processes about 30 coils every month, so shipping them in could become very expensive. “It just doesn’t make sense to import it,” Weber said. “And obviously, if it’s local and it’s available, then that’s what we prefer to use.”

On the manufacturing side, Kwikot employs over 400 people, which means that the company has the capacity to produce up to 3 000 water heaters every day. “That’s the installed capacity,” Weber clarified. How many heaters the plant actually produces depends on various factors.

Read the full feature on Plumbing Africa February 2016, page 62.

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