Crafting A Reputation For Excellence
Established in 1987 by the Alexander family, as a way to provide the South African mining industry with alternative after-market support through exceptional reverse engineering solutions, JA Engineering continues to design and manufacture hi-tech, sophisticated machines for the mining industry.
JA Engineering CEO Matimba Mahange says the company’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) products, as well as its refurbishment capabilities, cover both underground and opencast mining.
Looking firstly at underground mining, Mahange says that in this space, the company designs and manufactures OEM mining equipment predominantly for the coal mining sector.
“The products we market and supply include continuous miners, roof bolters, shuttle cars, battery scoops and feeder breakers. This equipment is used by our customers for the mechanised mining of coal underground. We also have the capability to refurbish equipment and components for both coal and hard rock mining equipment, even if this comes from other OEMs,” he says.
“Moreover, we are able to do this at a competitive price point, while meeting our inherent high-quality standards.”
From an opencast mining perspective, Mahange notes that JA Engineering has invested in capabilities to repair equipment and components from a variety of other OEMs. Successful refurbishments include everything from drills to surface truck major components, dozer components, dragline shutdown repair work and shovel repair work.
“As a company, we have grown organically over the years, to the point where the business now employs more than 260 people and designs and manufactures equipment for both local and international customers.
“Today the business prides itself on being recognised as a multinational engineering solutions provider. To this end, we can reference customers in India, Australia and across Southern Africa.”
JA Engineering designs, manufactures and distributes both its equipment and after-market parts at its new plant in Boksburg, Gauteng. He says the facility, which measures approximately 20 000m² under its roof, stands on a property some three times that size (60 000m²).
“It is worth mentioning that our extensive repair and rebuild capability includes electrical and mechanical repairs to surface mining blasthole drills, rope shovels, walking draglines and underground mining equipment that encompasses everything from continuous miners and battery scoops to haulage systems, feeder breakers and roof bolters.
“The business has always concentrated on building its reputation on quality, with a deep focus on manufacturing excellence and being the go-to engineering solutions provider. This is the core of the business, and JA Engineering has invested significantly in relevant technologies. We remain extremely proud of the fact that we are a mining supplier that designs and manufactures all its products within South Africa,” says Mahange.
He says the main reason for the shift to the big new property is that the business has managed to double in size, almost every four years.
“Our previous facility was situated in Jet Park, Boksburg, and had grown to a point where it could no longer accommodate the additional demand. We also had a limited number of cranes, which impacted on the size of repair work we could undertake. Furthermore, our product line has expanded, as more customers gain confidence in the productivity and quality of our products,” he says.
To complement the new facility, JA Engineering has invested in a new boring mill, as well as a five-axis computer numerical control machine to increase its machining capabilities.
“We have also invested in new jigs and fixtures to improve our productivity and quality, and even our electrical panels department is able to wire more panels per month than we were able to in Jet Park. Finally, our electrical technology lab is also being upgraded with the move.”
Core to the company’s growth strategy, he says, is the ability to attract the best talent in the industry. This has been possible due to the organisation’s investment in creating the right culture and environment – one where talent can truly flourish.
International projects, top talent
“The heart of our business lies in engineering design skills, coupled with high-quality local manufacturing capability. In order to achieve this, we focus strongly on attracting top-calibre design engineers, artisans and other support technology capabilities, and we also invest in continuous training, so that our talent remains globally competitive.”
Having recently hosted an open day – where the business showcased a continuous miner, roof bolter, feeder-breaker and shuttle cars, all of which were destined for a customer in India – JA Engineering took over 100 visitors through the new facility.
“This enabled us to display and demonstrate our capabilities, including the high-quality standards we adhere to. Clearly it was a success, since we are now in the process of finalising another contract, for similar equipment, for a new customer in India.”
Other key international projects that have occurred in the past two years include the export of parts, components and equipment to Australia, to the value of R80-million.
“Looking at the interest we are receiving from abroad, it is clear that there is a growing demand for our products and services, on a global scale. JA Engineering plans to invite more stakeholders to its facility, as and when it is about to deliver significant equipment.”
He says the business currently has four shuttle cars in final assembly, which are destined for Australia. He says the company welcomes customers to come and see the massive new facility, particularly as more than 80% of the content used in manufacturing at the site is local.
“Ultimately JA Engineering is an entity that is 100% black-owned, and describes itself as being proudly South African. We are proud to be able to offer the kind of capabilities that attract the export market, while at the same time, we have a unique South African capability that we believe will be pivotal to the industrialisation of Africa,” says Mahange.