Five ways local manufacturing can bolster the economy

The local manufacturing sector is vitally important to any economy, no more so in South Africa, where the local manufacturing sector has taken a severe beating in recent years.

But did you know that bolstering the local manufacturing sector can result in improvements in other sectors too? For example:

  • Local manufacturing enables other sectors in the local economy, for example, locally-made construction materials are supplied to local builders;
  • Local manufacturing improves local supply chains;
  • Skilled workers trained by manufacturers move to and enable other sectors of the economy;
  • Manufacturing innovations are often transferable to other sectors; and
  • Local products give people a sense of pride and can help put localities on the map.

DPI: 100% homegrown

By: Kelly-Ann Prinsloo – writer

DPI Plastics is a well-known, home-grown manufacturer that prides itself on being a champion of South Africa’s manufacturing sector

DPI Plastics (Pty) Ltd, a leading manufacturer of PVC and HDPE water reticulation and drainage pipe and fitting systems, was the first company in South Africa to develop modified polyvinyl chloride (PVC-M). Borne from the 1988 merger of Duropenta (AECI) and Paxit Pipekor (Everite), DPI Plastics has been a leader in the local manufacturing sector for many years.

Since DPI led the charge to develop PVC-M, the material has become a significant part of the company’s product base. DPI also pioneered the use of PVC-M in South Africa’s mines and today, the material is used throughout the sector because its properties suit mining needs so well.

The process
Making PVC pipes is a relatively straight-forward process - one that DPI has perfected over the years. It all begins with the raw material which comes in powder form. Heat stabilisers, lubricants, colourants, impact modifiers etc. are added to the raw material. Renier Snyman, DPI’s technical and production manager, said: “It’s like baking a cake – you have a recipe.”

The raw PVC and additives are mixed in a hot mixer, then cooled down and fed into an extruder.


Once the extruder has melted the PVC mixture, it is pushed through a die. The die shapes it in a pipe shape.

The pipe is then fed into vacuum and cooling tanks, which cool the pipe down and set it.

Next, the pipe is pulled by a haul-off, which stretches it out until the wall thickness is as thin or thick as is required for that particular batch of pipes. “If you pull this faster, the wall becomes thinner. If you pull it slower, the wall gets thicker,” Snyman said, of the haul-off. Next is the printer.


After the printer, a saw cuts the pipe to its required size.

Finishing off the pipe means using one of several options, depending on the pipe’s requirements. A socket can be added, which is done in-line (during the extrusion process), or steel ends can be pressed onto the pipe (this option is used for mining pipes). It can also be left plain-ended.

Another manufacturing process performed on-site is injection moulding, used specifically for making DPI’s range of fittings.

Read more about this feature in Plumbing Africa July page 82.

A local manufacturer’s story

By Matthew Wood – writer

To get better insight into local manufacturing, we’ll be profiling some local companies. First up: tool and die maker, Jenfit

Local manufacturing is a concept that Plumbing Africa places great emphasis on. It boosts the economy, creates jobs and puts South Africa back on the map. Put shortly, with local manufacturing, the focus is on ‘buying back’ South Africa.

Read more: A local manufacturer’s story

Cobra ISCA: local manufacturing at its best

By: Kelly-Ann Prinsloo – writer

We talk to Natie van der Westhuizen, chief executive officer (CEO) of operations at Cobra ISCA, about the state of the manufacturing sector and the processes that go into creating the brand’s products

Read more: Cobra ISCA: local manufacturing at its best

Buy back South Africa

By: Kelly-Ann Prinsloo – staff writer

Controversy surrounds the effect that large amounts of cheap Chinese goods are having on Africa’s local industries. But are Chinese goods really that much cheaper?

The current state of South Africa’s local manufacturing sector is a cause for concern in all industries. But how much of what plagues our manufacturing sector can be laid at China’s feet? How does China manage to stay so competitive while South African manufacturers flounder? And what is the effect of China’s dominant presence in Africa on local manufacturers?

China’s presence in South Africa, and other African countries, is indisputable. The Asian giant has its fingers in many of Africa’s proverbial pies. And, while consumers benefit from the availability of cheaper goods, industries in African countries are slowly being forced out. Research done by the Southern Africa Labour Development and Research Unit, drawn from a database of 44 manufacturing industries over the last decade, shows how cheap Chinese imports have contributed towards the relatively slow growth in output, loss of profits and the decline in employment in the South African manufacturing industry.

Made in China
There is a belief that goods made in China are of a lower quality than goods made elsewhere. Certainly, it seems that Asian products in general are cheaper than those manufactured locally. Tubby Boynton-Lee (B.Sc., M.Sc., C.Eng.) explains that, if foreign manufacturers abide by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), then goods might not be cheaper but they will only be marginally more expensive. In terms of plumbing goods, this mark-up is primarily to ensure that the metal used is dezincification resistant (DZR), an SABS requirement, and that the torque strength of the headpart meets the local specification.

“They [China] are very cheap because their labour and overhead costs are a fraction of those in South Africa,” said Boynton-Lee. “We believe that Chinese exporters also benefit from incentives. Their products are much lighter in weight, having thinner wall sections which reduces costs of both material and of shipping. In most instances, their working hours are longer and, because their labour costs are so low, they are invariably able to operate with less sophisticated (read expensive) capital equipment, employing more labour.” This, however, can negatively impact the consistency of the quality of Chinese goods.

He added that, despite the stereotype, China has rapidly improved the quality of their goods by investing in primarily low priced, locally-produced machines.

That China specifically is not a World Trade Organisation (WTO) signatory affects the manner in which they export goods. Boynton-Lee said, “They are not as restricted as we are with regards to incentivising their exports. They are also less sensitive to copying branded products – we have found our brand reproduced and sold into Africa – and their labour laws appear to be much more generous to employers than ours are. Their unions also appear to be relatively ineffective compared to ours.”

Read more about this feature in Plumbing Africa April 2015 page 30.

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