Following the successful completion of its Phase One expansion at its Isando facility, Fuchs Lubricants SA is on track with the next phase of the project. Commencing earlier this year and expected to be completed in 2024 at a total cost of R218 million, Phase Two will see a 40% increase in lubricants production capacity, says MD Paul Deppe.

“As part of our growth strategy, we started planning our capacity expansion some five years ago,” he explains. Phase One of the investment plan involved acquiring additional land at the Isando facility and construction of a new warehouse and head office complex, which was completed in mid-2022 by DRA Global who engineered, procured, constructed, and managed the project.

Latest technology

“The next part of our expansion is to increase our production capacity,” adds Paul. This was necessary as the current plant is running at capacity 24/7. To meet market demand, we had to look at expanding our production capability. It also afforded us the opportunity to introduce the latest technology in blending and filling processes.”

He points out that the new plant is an expansion of the existing plant and will bring about a much needed capacity increase. Fuchs embarked on its automation journey when it built its second grease plant in 2018. “We are adopting the same methodology with the automation of this plant, using a well-known German company that has done work for the group in other parts of the world. 80% of the project spend will be local and the balance imported, mainly on the automation.”

Net zero carbon

Esther Seabi, Sustainability Director at Fuchs, reveals that in line with the Fuchs Net Zero goals, the project will focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy as key drivers. Features will include insulation, variable speed drives (VSDs), heat recovery from heated product and flue gas, and a solar PV system. Recently, the company received an accolade from the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) Leadership Awards for 2021-2022. In addition, the new head office has been certified as being net zero carbon.

The new warehouse in Isando incorporates some of the latest warehouse management technology, including scanning and system driven batch control. The new materials-handling equipment includes narrow-aisle turret trucks stacking up to 17m high. The warehouse includes a comprehensive environmental, safety and fire system, including in-rack sprinklers and automated spill barriers.

Paul remains bullish about growth in both the local and African markets. “We are steadily increasing our market share and expanding throughout Sub-Saharan Africa from our regional hub in Isando,” he concludes. 

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