21 October 14, the South African Capital Equipment Export Council (SACEEC) hosted a cluster information session for the proposed Bag Filter Manufacturers Cluster, which will be an initiative of industry, managed under the auspices of SACEEC.
In 2013, Eskom developed a Filter Bag manufacturing strategy as part of their supplier development and localisation drive. Eskom plans to embark on a drive to lower the current particulate emissions from some of its power stations by retrofitting the existing Electrostatic Precipitators (ESP’s) with Fabric Filter Plants (FFP’s). A key requirement of the planned retrofit and subsequent maintenance programme is the localisation of some of the components.
In an article recently published by Engineering News, the Department of Public Enterprises stated that they had singled out the power utility's need for fabric filters to eliminate toxic gas produced by coal-fired plants as "creating a strong case for a localisation strategy." According to the article Eskom currently uses seven fibre suppliers, of which only one is South African. Four local companies were involved in stitching the bags, which accounted for only 14% of the final cost of the product. Producing and needling the fibre used to make the bags accounted for the remaining 86% of the production cost.
“Bag Filters were the first product identified by Treasury as being strategic in SOE projects and work has already began on surveying the industry, however it is only the industry itself that can give a clear and accurate indication of capacity and capability, from the individual components through to the entire bag filter system. From active collaboration the real work of populating the designation application for submission to the Department of Trade and Industry can begin, ” says Sybil Rhomberg, SACEEC MD.
The clustering process will assist companies in engaging with Eskom and government at a practical level to address issues such as the development of the industry, capacity, availability and constraints as well as capability through gap analysis.
As a Cluster members will be able to collectively identify other potential buyers in South Africa such as Sasol and develop export opportunities’ for either the end product as a whole or at the very least the componentry portion, thereby creating stability within the value chain.
“Currently there is no economy of scale to develop the fibre manufacturing industry in SA, however if you look the bag filter as a complete installed product then a 70% local content, minimum threshold is achievable,” concludes Rhomberg.
The next step in the process for the Filter Bag Manufacturers Cluster is to define the product, system and battery limits for designation. Identify the two champions to drive the cluster, engage with key stakeholders and coordinate the compilation of information required for the designation application.
The SACEEC successfully facilitates The Valve and Actuator Manufacturers Cluster of South Africa (VAMCOSA), The South African Mineral Processing Equipment Cluster (SAMPEC), with more on the horizon.