ACTOM (Pty) Ltd: At the heart of African industry

As African countries develop their economies, the industrial heartland relies heavily on electrical equipment, with the ACTOM name synonymous with supplying quality products in an ever-evolving environment.

The importance of the company should not be understated as industry creates skills and jobs in developing regions and demand for power intensifies. ACTOM (Pty) Ltd is the largest manufacturer, solution provider, repairer and distributor of electro-mechanical equipment in Africa, offering a winning and balanced combination of manufacturing, service, repairs, maintenance, projects and distribution through its 40 outlets throughout Southern Africa.

In addition, ACTOM is a major local supplier of electrical equipment, services and balance of plant to the renewable energy projects.

The company roots can be traced back to 1903 when British General Electric Company (GEC), manufacturers of all electrical machinery, supplies and accessories, opened offices in Cape Town.

Throughout the 20th Century the company evolved with changing customer demands and in 1989 the ALSTHOM group; including companies such as MAN Energie, SPRECHER Energie and Cegelec, merged with GEC’s power systems businesses. This merger was duplicated in South Africa and the local company gained access to ALSTHOM’s technology.

A series of mergers and acquisitions took place over the intervening years, with the first BEE policy introduced in 1996.

In 2002 ALSTOM’s global operations sold its transmission and distribution division to AREVA. The local transition saw AREVA taking over half of ALSTOM’s equity stake and the technology licensing and distribution agreements.

Today ACTOM comprises of thirteen divisions: Power, Power Conversion, Engineering Projects & Contracts, High Voltage Equipment, Medium Voltage & Protection, Power Transformers, Distribution Transformers, LH Marthinusen, Reid & Mitchell, Marthinusen & Coutts, Wilec, Electrical Equipment and ACTOM Energy.

2017 has thus far been an eventful year for ACTOM. On March 1st Mervyn Naidoo was offically appointed Group CEO of the company.

Naidoo, formerly Divisional CEO of ACTOM’s LH Marthinusen division, succeeded Mark Wilson, who had been at the helm since 1996.

Wilson, who has been Chairman of ACTOM since 2008, continues in that role.

In announcing Naidoo’s appointment as Group CEO, Wilson also announced the appointment of Andries Tshabalala as Deputy Chairman with effect from March 1, 2017. Tshabalala previously held the post of Group Executive Director.

“The Board and I would like to take this opportunity to wish Mervyn and Andries well with their new responsibilities and look forward to working together in growing and developing the ACTOM Group in the upcoming years,” Wilson commented.

Tshabalala’s main responsibilities as Deputy Chairman will be to assist both Naidoo and himself with strategy, customer liaison and empowerment, Wilson added.

Naidoo was appointed Divisional CEO of LH Marthinusen (LHM) in mid-2014. He was previously Divisional CEO of Reid & Mitchell (R&M), which he was appointed to in 2012, following ACTOM’s acquisition in early-2012 of the former Savcio Group, to which LHM, R&M and a number of other leading businesses operating in the electrical rotating machines and transformers repair markets belonged.

At the time of the acquisition Naidoo was an Executive Director of Savcio Holdings and the group’s Business Development Executive. An electrical engineer by profession, he has also held senior management posts in several other local electrical rotating machine repair companies during his 25-year career.

With a diverse range of specialist divisions comes strength in depth and the various divisions within the ACTOM Group are able to collaborate when necessary, to develop the best solutions for clients.

This was perfectly evidenced when the company’s environmental solutions unit John Thompson APC completed a turnkey filtration system upgrade contract for PPC’s Dwaalboom plant recently.

Leading cement producers PPC Ltd had commissioned John Thompson Air Pollution Control to upgrade the dust collection system serving one of the main production lines at PPC’s Dwaalboom plant near Thabazimbi in Limpopo Province.

The turnkey contract, worth in excess of R30 million, was awarded to John Thompson APC in May 2016 and completed in March 2017. The contract involved retrofitting the original electrostatic precipitator (ESP) system for the plant’s Kiln No.1 with a reverse-pulse filtration system deploying tubular bags to maintain dust emissions below 20mg/m3.

“The new system represents a substantial upgrade on its predecessor. The lower emission levels it maintains is to meet stricter environmental regulations which have come into effect,” commented Raymond Hopkins, John Thompson APC’s Project Manager on the contract.

The contract also incorporated the design and manufacture of a centrifugal induced draft (ID) fan for the baghouse comprising a 2700mm diameter aerofoil impeller driven by a motor in excess of 1MW, as well as materials handling equipment consisting of drag chains and rotary valves discharging the collected dust into an existing product conveyor.

ACTOM’s industrial and mining fan specialists TLT ACTOM, which John Thompson APC sub-contracted to produce the baghouse fan assembly, was also commissioned as part of its scope of work under the contract to design and manufacture a customised kiln ID fan.

“This centrifugal ID fan, although it forms part of the filtration system contract, is unrelated to the dust collection system,” explained James Sole, TLT ACTOM’s Sales Engineer, Industrial & Process Fans.
“Its function is heat recovery, as it takes the hot off-gas from the kiln for re-use in the production process. It is designed to withstand high dust loads and temperatures and is made of exceptionally wear-resistant material due to the highly abrasive material it will be exposed to.”

With a diameter of 3600mm, it is one of the largest fans used in an industrial application, driven by a large motor in excess of 2MW.

Whilst ACTOM has its roots in South Africa, the company is very much open to expansion across the African Continent.

In January it was one of a number of assorted companies involved in the energy sector, that participated in a trade mission to Zambia.

The aim of the visit was to hold meetings with Government and various other relevant departments and agencies with the view of embarking on collaborative projects.

The trip was organised by the Zambian High Commission in South Africa and the South African Electrotechnical Export Council (SAEEC).

SAEEC Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Chiboni Evans said: “Our intention is not to go into Zambia and sell but we want to go and see how we can come together with Zambian players to find solutions to the energy deficit.”
ACTOM is the result of a long legacy of evolution. The power sector continues to change and the company similarly evolves to fit those changing needs.