Kenny Padayachee, MD of conveyor belt cleaning enterprise Brelko, attributes his company’s on-going success to the investment in technologically advanced products with an accompanying ‘showroom’ facility promoting innovation, productivity, streamlined manufacture, streamlined delivery and of equal importance, employee pride writes Laura Cornish.
Padayachee is first and foremost an MD whose primary strength is “business savvy”. “My approach to success is driven by logic, hard work and doing things differently”. A visit to the company’s 16 566 m² manufacturing facility in Booysens, Johannesburg leaves little doubt that the MD’s actions speak as loudly as his words.
THE BUSINESS OF DOING BUSINESS
The foundations upon which Brelko was started, in 1987 (during apartheid), remain the foundations upon which the company operates today. “Despite introducing Brelko into a saturated market (in terms of product), my streetwise nature allowed me to recognise the challenge, compensate for it and the business has been flourishing ever since,” says Padayachee.
While the first ‘port of call’ in conveyor belt spillage is the coal sector, the local market was fully catered too and already well serviced, Padayachee continues. “So we took our business elsewhere. With the knowledge that our robust product would perform ideally in aggressive applications, we focused on the largely untapped platinum and gold industries instead.” There is no better place to prove a product’s capability than in the most aggressive, robust-demanding applications. This is exactly how Brelko has come to own the majority of the market share in conveyor spillage products in South Africa’s deep level mining sector.
Padayachee also attributes the company’s success to meeting regulatory and compliance standards. Brelko is a level 4 B-BBEE certified company with full, up-to-date ISO 9001:2008, 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007 certifications.
Although the company is focusing on gaining market share beyond South African borders, its products will continue to play a massive role in the local mining market, particularly in light of rising costs and labour disputes. “Containing spillage can improve ore grade recovery by up to 22%. This can dramatically improve the bottom line. Fortunately, our local mining sector understands this and appreciates how Brelko is contributing towards greater recoveries while simultaneously reducing costs.”
The company has spent the last five years focusing on expanding its African footprint where there are plentiful opportunities in hard rock applications. Having already achieved success in Zimbabwe (along the platinum belt) and Zambia in copper applications, this journey is well underway.
At home, Brelko has been impacted by the decrease in business resulting from the severe labour strikes in the South African platinum sector Padayachee admits, but says the business has been fortunate. “We have been very successful across a range of commodities including iron ore, diamonds and ash handling applications (for power stations). This is a result of our strong focus on innovation. We are constantly researching methods and processes to make our product components lighter and safer. This gives us a competitive advantage.”
Brelko’s advanced SQL waybill programme, logs and monitors the performance of any installed product on a conveyor belt. This is a value added service to customers who can see the advantage of preventative belt maintenance to combat spillage.
One of Brelko’s latest product innovations – a patented belt tracking system –can be installed on the troughing as well as the return side to centralise a misaligned belt, thereby preventing spillage, decreasing downtime, maintenance and extending belt life.
AN INDUSTRIAL SHOWROOM
Brelko’s automated manufacturing, assembly and stock holding facility in Johannesburg, which includes an automated polyurethane dispensing system, is a site to behold and is unlike any other in the industrial sector. The property was acquired in March 2009, demolished and fully refurbished. The company took occupancy in October 2010. The assembly line appears flawless with clean open spaces which pay tribute to the products. This helps perfect the flow from order through to delivery. Personnel have also clearly developed Padayachee’s passion for “doing things properly”, sharing his vision for a ‘showroom’ facility. “The result is a streamlined process with little room for error. I am proud of this achievement and want to share it with the industry.”
The staff who work at Brelko are equally important to Padayachee. “I have assembled a group of people with different talent pockets. I have nurtured them and aligned their values with the company. They are motivated to achieve and raise their positions within the company by refining their own strengths.”
Mining Review Africa
By Laura Cornish – JULY 2014