BFG Africa: Black industrialist company takes off in composites industry
BFG Africa Rail, a joint venture by global composites group BFG International of Bahrain and local black industrialist group Mergence, opened its South African moulding plant in Johannesburg on 18 July.
Mergence, a diversified financial services group based in Cape Town. acquired a 51% stake in the R50-million venture, set up in June 2018, with BFG (Bahrain Fibre Glass) International owning the remainder.
The 9,500m² factory, in the Tunney Industrial Area in Elandsfontein, is producing a range of composite components for applications across the infrastructure, mining, automotive, transport and architectural sectors. Production at the plant commenced earlier this year.
“We were delighted to provide BFG International with a local partner that can assist with unlocking further opportunities in the composites space,” said Mergence managing director Masimo Magerman. “Our objective is job creation and skills development and to grow the black industrialist sector in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Dr Samer Aljishi, group president of BFG International, said: “Currently 27 people are employed by BFG Africa, 18 of whom underwent extensive training in Bahrain. The company is well positioned to benefit from the roll-out of transport infrastructure and rolling-stock (interiors and claddings) renewable energy projects (composite-based wind turbines), and automotive projects.”
As an initial contract, entered into with the Gibela Rail Transport Consortium, BFG Africa will clad the interiors of a fleet of 600 commuter trains that will be supplied to the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) over a 10-year period. The first delivery on this project was met in May 2019.
BFG Africa is also working on an affordable emergency housing solution product, whereby lightweight collapsible structures can be transported and erected within hours to disaster areas.
Arshad Gove, MD of BFG Africa, said: “The factory is regarded as one of the best of its kind in the world, with state-of-the-art equipment, including several specialised presses. The manufacturing processes include tooling, open contact moulding, resin transfer moulding, painting, SMC material production, SMC press moulding, vacuum infusion, assembly and product integration.
“Composites fibreglass has replaced conventional materials in locomotive, buildings and specialised applications. Fibreglass as a ‘material of the future’ has an imprint in many developed nations and we are excited to be leading the charge with applications in Africa in areas of architecture, rail & transport, wind energy, housing and many other areas by using this advanced material,” added Gove, whose previous experience includes that of setting up a ‘lean factory’ dedicated for the rail business in Bahrain.
BFG International (Bahrain Fibre Glass Int’l)
has been a global leader and pioneer in composite design, engineering and manufacturing for over 40 years, with over 2,500 employees and 15 production facilities worldwide. BFG supplies customers in various sectors, including such global leaders as Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens and Gamesa. BFG also works alongside leading architects and developers of the world executing landmark projects.