Yvonne Coetzee, who qualified as a toolmaker in 2002 (one of the first women in South Africa to do so), does the setting as well as the mould changes at Hyco Enterprises in Somerset East. The company uses two Weltec injection moulding machines, 100 and 160-ton units

Hyco expands assembly work, produces parts for renewable energy sectors

THE departure of Wirquin from Somerset East in late 2021 left a gaping hole in the economy of the Eastern Cape town, a gap which local hydraulics and injection moulding company Hyco Enterprises has partly filled, in the process providing work for at least some of the 120-plus who lost their jobs as well as others new to the plastic moulding sector.

Run by Yvonne Coetzee, Hyco has expanded its assembly business and is now employing 14 women in that area, the majority of who are single mothers, which has gone some way to improving the situation after Wirquin moved its plant to Uitenhage near Gqeberha in late 2021. The female workers are involved in assembly and packaging of the wide range of sanitary components manufactured by Wirquin. The parts are in fact shipped back to Somerset East from Despatch, and then returned packaged in bags, labelled and boxed.

Yvonne had in 2002 qualified as a toolmaker, making her one of the first women to gain the qualification in South Africa, if not the first. Wirquin, a French company, had set up its SA plant in Somerset East, some 180kms NE of Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth), in 2007.

Its exit from the village 15 years later was a major setback for Somerset East, but the situation has also created a springboard for Hyco. The company, established by Yvonne and her father Herman (who had worked in production at Wirquin originally), offered three main services, namely hydraulic systems engineering; welding/steel fabrication (specifically for metal bailers for local sheep farmers, where the wool needs to be compacted for transport); and injection moulding.

The company initially did some moulding work for a solar energy business which set up a plant in the area. Yvonne later ran some moulds for Wirquin, so she is familiar with their standards and procedures, which could have been a factor in the awarding of the assembly contract to Hyco.

The Hyco machines are now being fully utilized. Its closer cooperation with Wirquin has allowed it to expand is staff complement this year, and it is picking up some additional moulding contracts for components for the solar and wind farm sectors in the region.