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Niegeria - Challenges of Local Production of Specialised Machine Tools

Manufacturing and procurement of machine tools as well as training of technicians to operate sophisticated industrial machinery is a multi-billion naira business in Nigeria, with most of the suppliers coming from abroad. Crusoe Osagie looks at the challenges facing local production against the backdrop of the the declaration by Nigeria Machine Tools Limited that it is now set to meet the domestic demand

Nigeria for decades has had to depend on other nations of the world for most of the machines, tools and sundry equipment needed to run the manufacturing, telecommunications, oil and gas sectors, among others.

This unfortunate situation resulted in the direct transfer of most of the economic activities that should have helped to create wealth for Nigerians to other countries, leaving the local people lacking basic useful skills and reasonable employment.

The federal government years before had inteligently envisaged the danger of this gap and in response partnered with the Indian government to set up the Nigeria Machine Tools (NMT) Company in order to effectively tackle the twin issues of skills and tools to manage the growth of an economy that showed enormous potential for massive growth. Unfortunately, like most other state owned enterprises, the NMT was run down and abandoned.  

After years of neglect however, things have now turned full circle for the nation's pioneer machine tools manufacturing company, which has announced its full  readiness to commence  production, aimed at delivering value to critical sectors of the economy.

This declaration was made by the company's Managing Director, Mr. Norbert Chukwumah, recently and he was supported by the two expatriates -  the Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Ray Regan, and the safety expert, David Reynolds - engaged to help transform the fortunes of the company.

According to Mr. Chukwumah, since the official handover of the then moribund company by the BPE, massive investments have gone into transforming NMT into a modern manufacturing company with the capacity to produce a diverse range of industrial products and services of international standards.

"We have upgraded our facility, acquired state of the art equipment and developed the highest level of competence in the manufacture of various products including stud bolts, flanges, machine tools, agricultural implements, municipal castings and technical training, corrosion protection and machining services. NMT is open for business and we are ready and committed to playing our own part in Nigeria's industrialisation," he added.

The NMTL boss told newsmen that the company's short term objective is to become West Africa's leading manufacturer of its range of products.

"We intend to assume leadership of the West African market in the next three years, and we shall achieve that by focussing on the needs of the markets and delivery of un-compromised quality in every single item that rolls out of the plant backed by projected technical staff strength of 350 by the end of the year," he pointed out.

NMTL now produces flanges and stud bolts for the oil and gas industry, assembles and manufactures machine tools, possesses extensive machining capability (utilising its numerous advanced CNC and conventional machines), assembles tractors for the agricultural sector and manufactures ancillary tractor implements.

The foundry produces municipal castings, gratings and manhole covers, brake blocks for the railways, machine spares, ball crushers for the cement industry and quarry operators and a range of other foundry products as determined by the needs of the client. There is also a newly installed state of the art PTFE coating plant and hot dip galvanizing shop to ensure products are finished to client specification.

The company also has a flourishing fully equipped training school which is open to the public as well as for industries that require training for their technical manpower in a wide range of technical skill sets.

Challenges
On the abundance of low quality goods in the market, Chukwumah stated that most of the inferior products are imported from a host of Asian countries even as Nigerian manufacturing companies go to great lengths, in a very challenging environment, to manufacture products of very high quality. It is thus unfortunate that the buying public still leans towards the less durable, low quality products that are dumped in the country at relatively much cheaper prices.

According to him, the effective bank lending rate of around 23% percent per annum, power, security and infrastructure challenges are particularly damaging to manufacturers with long term manufacturing goals and objectives.

He however states that Nigerians are very hard working and industrious people who always see every challenge as an opportunity to succeed.

"For every industry in operation in the developed economies, there are numerous smaller companies that produce in some instances up to 80% of what the larger manufacturing firm needs to operate successfully, but here in Nigeria you don't get that kind of support, so you either source from abroad or develop the competence in-house which can be expensive and sometimes counterproductive," he said.

Support
Calling for adequate support and protection from relevant arms of government to ensure that the company and other Nigerian manufacturing entities succeed, Chukwumah said the NMT, in which the Nigerian government holds 15 per cent equity, along with the government of India (through HMT International), which also holds another 15 per cent equity, is the only machine tools manufacturing company in Nigeria and is in stiff competition with cheap foreign imports with ample prospects for future expansion and growth.

Chukwumah is however full of praises for the federal government's considerable efforts at infrastructural development which will, in no small measure, aid the country's industrial development. He is also of the firm belief that the recent privatisation of electricity generation and distribution companies can only, in the not too distant future, lead to substantially improved power supply which will in turn considerably drive down production costs for Nigerian manufacturers.

Government's recently announced new automotive policy was also highlighted as capable of spurring industrial growth not only in the automotive industry but also in a host of ancillary and complementary industries.

Chukwumah also praised the Osogbo community where the facility is situated, describing them as very peaceful and cooperative, adding that the peaceful nature will bring more investors into the community and the sate in general, leading to the rapid industrialisation of the area and improved livelihood for the people of the community.

The Company
NMTL factory is located on a 110 hectare industrial site in a peaceful community in Osogbo, capital of Osun state, South West Nigeria, about 300km north east of Lagos. The facility consists of four assembly and heavy machine shops, three light machine shops, and a foundry with independent pattern and casting shops and a dedicated training school. It also has a residential housing estate for the company’s members staff.

It is now poised to be the leading manufacturer of machine tools, machine accessories, mechanical spares and after sales support provider in West Africa. The assembly, production capabilities and plant facilities make it the significant provider of some of the most complex machinery tools and varied equipment.

NMTL is further engaged in the manufacture and production of industrial spare parts and fittings for the energy and power sector, the defense sector, and iron and steel industries. It provides manpower training in various engineering and technological fields; carrays out of after-sales and consultancy services; thus influencing the growth of downstream industries associated with the machine tools industry. The Company also manufactures and assembles agricultural tractors and implements under its proprietary BULL trademark.

The company has seasoned professionals who have joined the company from reputable manufacturing and industrial companies in Nigeria and overseas as well as talented young individuals whom the company has put on aggressive and accelerated training and exposure programs.

Confident of the chances of the company, the Chief Operating Officer, Regan notes"our future is secure. With our international experience and ‘Nigerian Content’, we strive to become the partner of choice for companies seeking industrial parts and services in relevant selected African regions"

History and Competencies
NMTL was founded in 1980 as a joint venture between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Indian government-owned Hindustan Machine Tools . The Company commenced operations in January 1983 with the primary objective of machine tools production and assembly. In 2006, a Private Group acquired 70 percent of the federal government of Nigeria’s shares in Nigeria Machine Tools Limited, under the federal government of Nigeria’s privatisation program, thus bringing the company under private ownership and control.

Over the years a wide range of complementary products and services have been added to the primary objective assembly of machine tools production and assembly. This has positioned the NMTL to play a leading role in Nigeria’s quest for industrialisation.


Products and Services
NMTL offers technical training for its own staff and other clients in its dedicated training centre in Foundry Technology;Fitting and Machining Technology;Welding and Metal Fabrication;Plumbing and Fitting; Computer Aided Engineering Design And Manufacturing; Electrical Maintenance Installation and Repairs; Computer Numerical Control Machining and other special tailored courses.

The company's integrated foundry plant has the capacity of 3000 Tons Per Annum and a well equipped sand and metal laboratory to ensure quality castings. Other ancillary units of the foundry include a Pattern shop and a well-equipped Fettling shop.
Products available from NMTL’s foundry include:Municipal castings such as gratings, manhole covers etc; Crusher Jaws and Crusher Balls for Cement Industries; Brake Block for Railway; Machine Tools Castings and General Component Parts for Machineries.

Backed with the widest range of machine tools and associated equipment both conventional and latest C.N.C. technology as well as other services, NMTL has mastered the intricate system of Machine Tool Building. The range of machine tools manufactured and assembled at NMTL include a wide range of Lathe Machines;Milling Machines;Drilling Machines;Pedestal Grinding Machines and Wood Working Machines.

NMTL also manufactures a wide range of oil and gas industry stud-bolts, fasteners and flanges, all of which are compliant to ASTM, ASME and API Standards.They also boast of  a variety of corrosion resistant finishes including Electroless plating, hot dip galvanizing and PTFE coatings.

The company noted that they were already providing services for a wide range of customers including Sokoto Cement; Ashaka Cement; Benue Cement; Bendel Cement; WAPCO and Cement Company of Northern Nigeria.

Other clients of the tools makers include NNPC; Guinness Plc; Nigerian Breweries; Golden Guinea; International Breweries; Jos International Breweries among many others.

Source: thisdaylive.com

 

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