Tag Archives: Efficient Engineering


Specialist fabrication powerhouse Efficient Engineering is this year celebrating a momentous 55 years in business – building on unmatched experience to chart an exciting future.

Like many South African success stories, Efficient Engineering is today a towering oak that grew from the proverbial humble acorn. It was started in 1968 by Giuseppe Cimato, a young blacksmith from Italy who had arrived in South Africa aged 17. Facing considerable ethnic discrimination from local artisans and workmen he carved a niche for himself in the metal fabrication business, recalls his son Tony, CEO of Efficient Engineering. He had already proved himself as an employee with a prodigious work rate, churning out items like steel frames for bus seats at twice the pace of his peers. This earned him only envy from workmates, and he soon decided to strike out on his own.

“His first workshop was nine square metres in Ophirton, south of Johannesburg, where he built tipper buckets for Atlas Copco underground equipment,” says Tony. “He also manufactured bulldozer blades, scrapers and backhoe buckets as well as cabs for earthmoving equipment.”

With limited resources and cashflow, he would procure materials for each job as it was secured, making it a constant challenge to generate returns. While artisans were plentiful, the good ones would have been scarce, explains Tony – so an added problem was to hang on to competent skills. Tony joined the business 1982 after starting a law degree and soon deciding it was not for him.

A 930DT dump truck body being fettled, cleaned and prepped for painting at Efficient Engineering.
A 930DT dump truck body being fettled, cleaned and prepped for painting at Efficient Engineering.

After his first year in the workshop sweeping the floor and cleaning machines, Giuseppe saw that Tony was not going anywhere. He was finally allowed to start learning a trade, and within seven years was a qualified boilermaker. He began taking a role in the running of the modest workshop, which then employed five artisans and 22 labourers. Perhaps the most expensive item of plant was a an oxy-acetylene profile cutter with an optical eye that followed a one-dimensional drawn paper template – fairly advanced technology for those days. With these resources, Efficient Engineering made components for a number of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

“An important shift for the business was when we started to move away from the lighter work and focus more on heavier components for mining and materials handling,” says Tony. “This delivered more work and better margins.”

By the late 1980s, Efficient Engineering had developed a loyal following of customers in this niche – fabricating components for equipment such as circular stackers, bucket wheel reclaimers and drum reclaimers. Machining was still outsourced, but the focus on quality and accuracy was always paramount; this allowed the company to make a name for itself, fabricating and assembling to the highest standards.

A slow and challenging time was to come in the last years of the 1990s, when the economy had slumped. Tony took over the business from his father in 2000, also buying out his father’s business partner, and began the task of building up the business again. After a few good contracts, the company was back on its way and looking for space to expand premises.

Working with developers Abbeydale Construction, and with the in-principle support of the Industrial Development Corporation, work began in 2006 on the company’s Phase 1 engineering facilities on 28,000 square metres of land in Germiston. They relocated in 2007, and within four months were repaying the developers twice as fast as they needed to, he says. With the added space, machinery and lifting capacity, the company had quadrupled its turnover, and a new era of expansion had begun.

After only a year of continued growth, work started on another building of 4,500 square metres on the same site – to be called Phase 2. Investing in an adjacent plot, Efficient Engineering then created the space for the building of Phase 3, and the Abbeydale Construction team went straight from one to the other.

“This gave us the capability, for instance, to build the whole bowl for mining trucks,” says Tony. “We became a one-stop shop, as we had all the machinery and space we required – from large gantry cranes and machining equipment to shot-blasting to specialised painting facilities. We didn’t have to outsource anything, so the work became quicker while still closely controlling quality.”

Today, Efficient Engineering is in a class of its own, being one of only a few companies who can still perform this range of heavy engineering in-house. As a black empowered entity since 2010, the company subsequently expanded further into its Phase 4 and Phase 5 premises.

“With the challenge of Covid-19 behind us, we experienced a good recovery in the 2022 financial year – with FY2023 in fact being the best year we’ve had,” he says. “Looking at how well we are doing now, we are confident that FY2024 will be as good if not better than last year.”

The company’s future looks brighter still as South Africa’s focus on local content is better applied, notes Tony.

“Efficient Engineering is now well placed to produce locally what is often sourced from India or China,” he says. “The emphasis on local content could enable companies like ours to create jobs, develop skills and add vital capacity to our economy for a more prosperous future.”


Efficient Engineering CEO Tony Cimato wanted to follow in his father Giuseppe’s technical career, but his father wanted him to study law; Giuseppe needed some persuading and took his time giving his son the trade he wanted.

“I told my father that I didn’t want to waste his money or my time – that I would rather work in his factory,” he says. “I was always passionate about that work, spending my holiday time tinkering, welding, grinding, painting and various other jobs. He taught me a great deal in those early years, from about six years old onwards.”

A view of the Efficient Engineering machine shop with a bridge beam being machined on a DB130.
A view of the Efficient Engineering machine shop with a bridge beam being machined on a DB130.

While his father finally agreed to Tony’s entreaties, he was going to test his resolve. Tony’s first assignment in the workshop was as a floor-sweeper, which he was kept at for his first six months.

“I was not allowed to touch any tools, but my father insisted that I first had to understand how clean a workshop needed to be before it was fit for working in,” he says. “More importantly, he argued that sweeping floors would ensure that I knew the standard of work I would expect when I one day hired a sweeper.”

The lesson was well learnt, and Tony says he carried this through to every facility he ever managed – ensuring that they were always spotless. After his six months of sweeping, his trials were not yet over. He was put onto the job of cleaning machines with soluble oil – with a pungent smell that could not be removed for days. After two months of that, he was put onto the task of measuring nuts and bolts in the storeroom with a Vernier calliper.

“To this day, I can tell you the size of nut or bolt just by looking at it – whether it is imperial or metric,” he says. “So, my first year in the workshop was not glamourous, but in retrospect I certainly learned some valuable basic principles for the future.”


South Africa’s oil, gas and petrochemical market is based on stringent global standards, and Efficient Engineering’s pressurised equipment division has shown it is up to the mark in consistently meeting these demands.

It has been little more than a decade since the division was launched, but the company has already established a customer base that has become accustomed to the highest level of quality and certification. According to Gerhard van Zyl, Business Unit Manager of the pressurised equipment division at Efficient Engineering, the company’s success is based on its imbedded experience, its specialised infrastructure, skilled artisans and its certification and compliance with global standards.

“From preliminary design through to fabrication and delivery, our customers are confident in our ability – having experienced our commitment to service levels for many years now,” says van Zyl. “

He highlights that the oil and gas industry adheres to the strictest technical requirements, so the company has always positioned itself in line with the highest standards and protocols. This is supported by its fully integrated ISO 9001 quality certification and ISO 45001 occupational health and safety management system. 

“In fact, customers in our sector will often also conduct detailed audits on our capability before trusting us with any of their contracts,” he says. “Our progress to date is therefore built on earning their trust, through  our compliance and,  consistent delivery of quality while providing cost effective results.” 

Among the demands on the technical side are that fabrication must be guided by a full engineering package including quality plans, welding procedures and detailed equipment  performance and testing specifications. Van Zyl says customers are also aware that the company has its own certified professional engineer with international accreditation to ECSA standards who signs off on its designs before these progress to a SANAS-approved inspection authority.

“We have the infrastructure to conduct almost all tasks in-house and can therefore control quality and lead times very closely,” he says. “We also source the materials – which are often specialised to suit specific applications – from trusted local and overseas vendors.”

In the pressurised equipment segment, welding skills and compliance are vital to ensuring quality and safety, he emphasises. Efficient Engineering also has internationally qualified welding engineers, recognised by the Southern African Institute of Welding, who conduct the prerequisite in-process welding inspections during  fabrication. 

The market’s trust in the pressurised equipment division can be demonstrated through the completion of a number of impressive projects. In one of the leading examples of this, the company locally produced the largest liquid petroleum gas (LPG) storage ‘bullets’ yet to be fabricated in the southern hemisphere. These measured 70 metres long and six metres in diameter, weighing 580 tonnes each. Five were produced for a gas storage facility on South Africa’s west coast. 

“The division is also involved in maintenance and replacement of plant and equipment during shutdowns, where our capabilities have created a real niche for us,” says van Zyl. “Customers really appreciate the pride that we have in our work, our attention to detail and our ability to work in line with their extremely demanding shutdown schedules.”

Its well-equipped Germiston premises  includes column and boom welders that can operate up to six metres high and with a six metre reach and automatic state-of-the-art orbital tube-to-tube sheet welding equipment, as well as non-destructive hydraulic testing and coating applications in its dedicated, environmentally friendly grit blasting and painting facilities. 


Already leveraging the global economic recovery, Efficient Engineering is gearing up for continued growth – while strengthening the industrial foundation of the South African economy.

Efficient Engineering has an established track record producing quality dump bodies.
Efficient Engineering has an established track record producing quality dump bodies.

According to Gary Colegate, chief operating officer at Efficient Engineering, the company has seen exciting growth in orders from OEM customers in the mining sector who recognise its world class design and fabrication capability. Its ongoing upskilling efforts have been matched by the latest technology, including a recent R55 million investment in  state-of-the-art CNC floor and table type machining centres  – probably the largest in the country.

Buoyant commodity prices have been driving both new projects and expansions across the mining sector, Colegate points out. Much of the company’s new business is also from significant aftermarket demand, such as buckets or bowls on rigid earthmoving trucks. He notes that many global OEMs active in South Africa are looking to maximise their local content, due to considerations of cost effectiveness and disruptions in global logistics.

As a result, Efficient Engineering has had considerable success in capturing business from its overseas competitors. Its agility and ability to fulfil orders rapidly have given it an advantage in an environment where issues in global supply chains have led to longer lead times.

“With our engineering legacy dating back over half a century, we employ some of the most experienced artisans and boilermakers in South Africa,” he says. “Our quality systems and in-house design and production capacity ensure that we compete toe-to-toe with the world’s best; matching them in terms of our cost-competitiveness and quality.”

He emphasises that the company’s decades of deft management and entrepreneurial skill have allowed it to outlive some much larger players in this segment. Its established reputation has ensured a loyal customer base that implicitly trust its brand and reliability, he explains.

“On the strength of the growing interest from global customers in our offerings, we believe the future looks bright,” he says. “Based on our record performance this year, we continue to invest in technical capacity so we can constantly improve our output capacity and turnaround times.”

Efficient Engineering prides itself on its contribution towards building the local economy – in the interests of job creation and future growth potential.

“As a leading player in the engineering sector, we have always worked hard to support South Africa’s industrial platform as a basis for economic success,” he says. “In fact, there is widespread commitment in the private sector to developing the local economy and creating employment opportunities. We need a combined effort from all stakeholders including state-owned enterprises to support local production.”