31 August 2011

Can SA's infrastructure keep running at this pace without proper maintenance?

Submitted by Annemarie Roodbol

Massive public enterprises are still battling to get maintenance off the back-burner while at the same time huge investment is going into new-build projects, according to Tracey-Lee Zurcher, the project director of Reliability & Maintenance Week, taking place in Johannesburg in November.  She continues:  "such new projects still won't help public service delivery if equal attention isn't given to maintenance.  If this does not change, existing infrastructure will begin to fail and this will ultimately have a knock-on affect of the productivity of any new-build projects."

Eskom is running its plant harder than it should

She continues, "Brian Statham, chairman of the South African National Energy Association (Sanea) said recently that, in general, South Africa's electricity sector is not in better shape than it was a few years ago due to the fact that while electricity demand has rebounded after the global financial crisis, little will have changed on the supply side, prior to the new power station units coming online.  He said that to keep the lights burning, which Dames has assured the public will happen, Eskom is running its generation plant harder than it knows it should, and is unable to do the necessary maintenance it knows it should, which includes making up a backlog." (esi-africa.com)

Stronger public-private relationships

The annual Reliability & Maintenance Week conference and exhibition will once again unite public and private sector industry to share and align maintenance best practices.  Says Tracey-Lee Zurcher:  "we are looking to address advanced maintenance planning techniques and overall industry trends that will affect maintenance practices to the more senior maintenance professionals and look at more technical, on-the-ground issues for the engineers entering the space.  We are also trying to take some best practices from the private sector and create stronger relationships between public and private sector by aiming to align maintenance practices across the board so public service delivery can assist world-class manufacturing productivity."

Struggle for skills

Co-located with the event is Technical Skills Africa, which will look at skills management strategies in the power, mining, ICT and infrastructure sectors through analysis of skills acquisition, development, maintenance and retention.  Says Tracey-Lee Zurcher:  "Employers in South Africa are struggling to fill key positions, with 14% indicating that they have difficulty in finding the right talent.  As the demand for a skilled workforce continues to exceed the supply, organisations are forced to examine strategies to attract and retain the best talent to ensure they remain competitive."

Speaker highlights:

*  Keynote Speaker: Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Public Enterprises

-  Past experiences with maintenance of critical infrastructure - lessons in moving forward

"Turning to skills development, it is critical that we enhance the level of inter-departmental coordination. There are currently over 9 000 learners enrolled in training processes in the SOEs, the bulk of which training is related to scarce and critical skills - 2242 engineering, 1064 technicians and 4273 artisan students".

*  Implementing methods of motivation in driving performance in an institution

-  James Reyes-Picknell, CMC, CEO and President, Conscious Group Inc.- a world-class maintenance professional, consultant, author and mentor.

*  Africa's economic positioning in a global community - what we can use to our advantage

-  Dawie Roodt, Director and Chief Economist, Efficient Group Sanjay Premraj of Tiger Brands

*  Formalising the process of becoming ISO 55 000 compliant for optimal asset performance

-  Alan Tait, President, Southern Africa Asset Management Association 

Other companies and organisations that will be represented include:  Eskom, Anglo American, SAPPI, PetroSA, Nynas, Haefely, Pragma, Doble Engineering Africa, Engen, Engineering Dynamics, Powertech, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Tiger Brands, Industrial Development Corporation, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Kumba and Bearings International.

Event dates: 
31 October:  Pre-conference workshop
1- 2 November:  Conference sessions
Location:  Sandton Sun, Johannesburg, South Africa
Event website:  www.reliabilityweek.co.za

For more information, interviews and media accreditation:

Communications manager:  Annemarie Roodbol
Tel.  +27 21 700 3558
Fax.  +27 21 700 3501
Mobile: +27 82 562 7844
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.