MANUFACTURING: A First For Local Technology
Recent Western Cape Business News
LEADING perimeter security specialist Betafence, which is now based in Paarl, has invested R14 million in a new PVC coating line. Paarl was the ideal location as it had enough electricity supply to meet the demands of the manufacturing plant as well as the PVC line.
“The scale of our operation necessitated that we relocate our plant from Blackheath to the new facility,” says Michael James, general manager for Betafence.
The investment has opened up new markets in South Africa for the company.
“The possibilities are huge –with the flexibility of the machine we will now be able to offer PVC coating services to a range of applications –full panels, gates, bar fencing, fully made window-screens – and we are certainly open to requests from the manufacturing sector,” says James.
It took two and half years of research and development to adapt the available PVC coating technology to accommodate fence panels– the first of its kind in the world.
“Not only is it the first of its kind it is also the largest coating line in the world and can accommodate 6m wide panels, twice the width of other standard machines in Europe,” says James.
The machine, which was designed in Italy, is able to PVC coat 2.5 tons per hour.
The total dimensions of the line are 70m long x 7m high x 10m wide making it the largest PVC coating machine in the world. The unique feature is that it is able to hold and coat whole panels.
It is completely automated and is not limited to fencing only but can accommodate anything made of steel that needs to be coated.
The advantages of PVC over polyester lie mainly in the preparation of the product prior to coating and the quality of the adhesion of the coating to the product.
Polyester coating requires labour intensive preparation of the products prior to coating and as it is a chemical process, is difficult to control.
PVC coating, on the other hand, is a physical process and therefore requires very little preparation of the product other than cleaning which makes it easier to control and implement. This relates into cost efficiency on the final product.
In harsh environments, the ability of a product to withstand corrosion plays a critical role.
PVC is a coating which has the ability to prolong the lifespan of the product thereby decreasing life-cycle costs in two ways. Firstly, PVC coating is applied through heat and due to the plastic which melts onto the steel ensures that all weld points, which are the most vulnerable to rust, are covered.
Polyester coating relies on spraying and correct application in order to cover all the weld flash points. If it is not applied correctly rust can to start to form.
Effectively, both coatings improve product anti-corrosion properties, but it is in the method of application that the coatings differ and that PVC is a better choice.
The second benefit is the high levels of coating thickness that can be achieved. A minimum of 250µm can be achieved with one PVC coating application.
This thickness can be achieved with polyester, however, by applying several layers which increase the costs substantially. Also important is the flexibility of the PVC, as opposed to polyester, which is a hard thermoset and over time can chip off and crack.
Betafence’s coatings are guaranteed and thanks to the higher coating thickness and its thermoplastic properties PVC coated products are better suited for very aggressive environments.
The new flagship product Nylofor 3M-G, which was specifically designed as a local perimeter security solution for golf courses and estates in South Africa, has already been supplied to three prestigious projects namely; Durban Country Club in KwaZulu Natal; Green Point Stadium in Cape Town and to Villa Valriche- an exclusive lifestyle development in Mauritius.
Other product ranges are currently under research and the company hopes to soon launch a range of PVC coated swing and sliding gates, another first in the South African market.
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