With industrial activities, particularly mining, experiencing robust growth in many African countries, Zest WEG Group has made a strategic commitment to support its customers throughout the lifecycle of the equipment it supplies — no matter where they are located.
“In a business environment in which many customers in Africa are being left high and dry by suppliers once the sale is completed, Zest WEG Group is gearing up strongly to make sure we can support the equipment we supply long after it has been commissioned — even in the most remote areas,” Quentin Korff, Zest WEG Group’s African business development manager, says.
“A key focus of this support is our network of branches and distributors. We currently have registered businesses in Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Ghana, with distributors in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. The distributors have all received comprehensive training on our product range and most of them have visited the WEG facilities in Brazil to view the production process firsthand.”
As part of its after sales service value-add, Korff says that Zest WEG Group regards training of both distributors and customers as a high priority. The group has a fully fledged training centre at its headquarters in Johannesburg, run by a dedicated training officer and training focuses primarily on the technicalities and maintenance of Variable Speed Drives (VSDs) and electric motors.
“We encourage customers to enrol for these in-depth SETA-approved courses, which are offered free of charge, because we believe that gaining an understanding of how the equipment works, allows them to specify this technology for their projects with a great deal of confidence,’ he says. “Training is also provided for customers in West Africa from our Ghana branch and in Central Africa, by our distributor in Zambia.
“In addition, we offer training at customer sites which helps to keep downtime to a minimum and is a big plus in very remote areas. Our team has conducted training as far as north as Mauritania, which has allowed our customers in that country to resolve minor operational issues in-house.”
Another key element of its aftermarket offering is Zest WEG Group’s dedicated after sales team that specialises in motors, VSDs and generators and whose members travel regularly throughout Africa in response to customer requests for technical assistance. Members of this team also call on customers, even in the most remote areas, at least four times a year to provide support, build relationships and gain ongoing insight into the customers’ operations. This allows Zest WEG Group to identify the most effective locations to establish distributors who can support such customers.
The group’s strategically placed distributors also have the technical capabilities to respond immediately to customers in their areas. If they are unable to solve the problem, a specialist from the after sales team is rapidly deployed from South Africa. These distributors also carry stocks of electric motors and VSDs specific to their local market requirements, enabling a quick response to customer requests.
Korff says that the Zest WEG Group team is able to support all group products in the field with technical back-up and spares.
“Most players in African industry have corporate offices in South Africa, but we make it our business to visit their outlying project sites to gain an understanding of their procurement philosophies and to provide a link between their strategic management at headquarters and the people on the ground at the project sites.
“Very often, several Zest WEG group companies are supplying products and services into the same project,” continues Korff. “On these projects we effectively work as a single source supplier, with the objective of mitigating risk for our customers. We achieve this by providing technical assistance as an integrated team — one team taking responsibility for a host of financial and technical solutions. This speeds up the timeline on project sites, minimising downtime and ensuring deadlines are met.
“This single source supplier approach also has a bearing on the group’s ability to do business in Africa. Each country is different and our combined track record and long term knowledge of working in these countries has created the know-how to navigate the red tape and move equipment quickly and efficiently to project sites.
“For the future, our efforts to gear ourselves up to service industrial developments in countries across Africa will continue to be guided by the presence of project hot-spots,” Korff concludes. “We’re focusing on what we do best and making sure we stay ahead of the competition by listening to our customers and responding in the most appropriate way. Continuing to do things better is a philosophy entrenched in the culture of our business.”