Innovative, home-grown engineering by a South African gypsum player has led to a new and locally-produced line of high-quality finishing plaster, skimming plaster and joining plaster for the construction sector.
Leading producer of synthetic gypsum, OMV has spent the last few years upgrading its Potchefstroom plant for this purpose, according to Marinus van den Berg, group operations manager at OMV.
“Our plant is now managing the whole value chain including raw materials, processing, packaging and warehousing,” said van den Berg. “We have grown from being a business to business supplier, into also taking the product from its raw stage right through to retail to the public.”
He says the quality and cost-competitiveness of the product is likely to excite the local market, which has in the past not had access to much product choice. The Metacote line of plaster is being rolled out to major building material outlets in 40 kg and 20 kg bags.
Traditionally, OMV was a raw product supplier of calcium sulphate dihydrate – mainly to the cement and agricultural sectors. The company has recently been integrating operations to add greater value. This has involved taking the raw product through four value-adding stages to its final bagged product.
“The material first undergoes calcination at our calcining plant, then a blending stage to enhance the mix with additives for smoothness and performance,” he says. “The resulting product can then be bagged, and finally reports to the warehouse. We conduct all these phases under one roof.”
The cost-effectiveness of the product is improved by having the whole process under one management structure, as well as cutting out transportation costs between stages.
“This integration has also radically reduced the production timeframe from as much as six weeks right down to three days,” he says. “This means quality control is easier, as we can quickly trace and resolve any issue in the value chain – as there is only a matter of days to consider and all processes are close together.”
This allows a just-in-time (JIT) production system as it is no longer necessary to hold excessive stock volumes – further optimising the cost base.
The OMV product is expected to largely replace those imported finishing plaster products which are not as well suited to local conditions.
Van den Berg highlights the growth potential for this high-grade chemical gypsum in the South African market. In markets like Europe, there is extensive use of plaster in building construction instead of cement. There are also environmental benefits.
“Gypsum is often referred to as ‘green cement’ as the physical temperatures we generate in its production are only 150 to 160 degrees compared to over 900 degrees with cement,” he says. “The carbon dioxide generated is order of magnitudes lower.”