SOUTH Africa’s diesel engine component remanufacturing capability is a strategic national asset, which offers numerous advantages including job creation, cost effectiveness, environmental sustainability and foreign exchange conservation.
This is the view of Andrew Yorke, Operations Director at Metric Automotive Engineering, a remanufacturer of large diesel and gas engine components.
The company boasts one of the leading crankshaft grinding facilities in Africa and deals with crankshafts from industrial compressors through to locomotive engines. This according to Yorke, equips it to grind shafts up to 4,7-metres-long and weighing up to two tons.
Its workshop includes seven modern three-axis CNC machines. These are the only units in Africa of this type, capable of performing line-boring, surfacing and blue-printing of engine blocks up to six metres in length.
“The original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of these diesel engines expect their components to be remanufactured for long term lowest cost of ownership, and we achieve this by meeting OEM standards.”
Yorke said the remanufacturing sector offered much-needed opportunities for skills development and employment and that it could absorb many more skilled employees if there was renewed commitment to policies and practices that supported local procurement.
“The remanufacturing of these components represents an important recycling activity, which helps governments and customers to meet carbon-reduction targets. At the same time, retaining this vital function within the local economy strengthens economic capacity while reducing the country’s need to spend foreign exchange on imports.”
He warned, however, that OEM pricing of aftermarket parts was making remanufacturing less viable and needed to be addressed. If the skills required for large diesel engine component remanufacture and assembly are lost, engine testing skills would suffer the same fate.
“If we ended up only importing new large diesel engines instead of remanufacturing components, we would soon need to import the skills to maintain them too. South Africa must be strategic about our economic choices – for instance, by supporting automotive engineering that focuses on engine component remanufacture.”