When it comes to automotive cabling, Walro Flex (Walro), which has been in operation for more than a decade, is estimated to have some 60% of the local market.
The company today employs about 130 people and recent improvements and new machinery have seen the output of cable increase dramatically. The factory is located in Alberton, near Johannesburg in Gauteng.
BGG Cable Manufacturers SA, trading as Walro Flex, is a majority owned subsidiary of Pamodzi Industrials, a black-owned enterprise which provides corporate governance and coordinated investment and financial management strategies. Walro Flex fully supports the tenets of recent legislation passed in South Africa which specifically aims at redressing past imbalances. To this end the company has not merely complied with legislation, but in most cases exceeds the statutory requirements in terms of safety, employment, training and financial reporting.
Between 50% and 60% of the output of Walro (www.walroflex.com) is indirectly exported to Europe and the company has to ensure that its quality and its standards are at international levels. Walro is certified through DEKRA to what is seen as the future uniform automotive standard, namely ISO TS16949:2002. To compete internationally the company needs to be highly advanced technologically.
One solution to reduce waste on smaller runs was to develop a colour change system that changes the insulation colour on the run. Designed in-house, this is the first system of its type on the continent, and the end product has been approved by a German laboratory which tested the new cable for 3000 hours over a 3½ month period.
In terms of the other requisite for export and local sales, quality is paramount. Staff are regularly and thoroughly trained in quality awareness and quality systems, as well as technical and work skills. A major objective of this is to make staff aware of how their jobs influence the quality of the product and other operations within the company.
Amongst the OEM approvals that Walro has in the automotive industry are Daimler Chrysler, Ford, General Motors (Opel), MAN Trucks, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, Toyota, Volkswagen and Audi, as well as Circuit Breaker Industries (CBI) outside the automotive industry.
General automotive wire is manufactured from annealed electrolytic copper Cu-ETP (according to DIN EN13602) with PVC insulation (DIN 72551). The manufacturing facility at Walro makes use of several major processes. The first is rod breaking and wire drawing. The process starts with a Cu rod of 7,90 mm diameter which is drawn down to 1,56 mm and fed to three high-speed, multi-ended fine wire drawing machines that draw the annealed copper wire down to various sizes and combinations of wire.
The next process involves bunching, which produces products from 0,22 mm² to 6,0 mm² at speeds of up to 5600 twists per minute. A single twist buncher and cable strander produces conductors ranging from 8 mm² to 95 mm².
Finally, the products are extruded, and here there are four fully-automated extrusion lines producing auto cable from 0,22 mm² up to 6 mm². The battery line has undergone major refurbishment, increasing production capacity to 800 000 m per month ranging from 8,0 mm up to 95,0 mm.
For the manufacturing of low oxygen super-fine conductors, two super-fine multi-end wire drawers are capable of drawing wires down to 0,05 mm. Four specialised bunchers and a tubular strander produce these special, highly flexible strands.
Over the last decade Walro has consistently supplied quality automotive cable to both the local market and Europe, earning a reputation for reliable, assured quality and competitive pricing. Walro runs a continuous cycle shift (24/7) and the capacity is 40 000 km of auto cable plus 800 000 m of battery cable per month. Every year, in collaboration with their technical partner, specific equipment capability is evaluated and upgraded and/or replaced when appropriate. Capital investment over the last decade was in excess of R50 million.
Walro upgraded and extended its laboratory during 2004, and it is now capable of performing the full range of DIN 72551 tests as well as many other international test specifications.
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