Malutsa nearing completion of water provisioning equipment contract


South African company Malutsa has almost finished delivering water provisioning equipment to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), and is scheduled to wrap up deliveries in the 2020/21 financial year. Systems are currently being used in cleaning and packaging water for the SANDF, notably for the COVID-19 coronavirus response.

In May 2011, the South African Army awarded black empowerment company Malutsa a contract for custom mobile water purification plants to replace legacy systems and which are able to purify all types of ground water as well as sea water. Malutsa was the successful bidder after a multi-source tender process.

The contract comprises numerous sub-systems which make up the Water Provisioning System for the SANDF. These subsystems include collapsible water tanks, water transfer pumps, water extraction systems, Water Bottling Plants, Water Sachet Plants and Mobile Water Purification Systems.

Under the project , Malutsa designed numerous systems from the initial system specifications. According to Gerhard Viljoen, Programme & Business Development Manager at Malutsa, “This is quite a novel undertaking in that building water process plants, from first principles, in accordance with military acquisition and systems engineering principles has, to my knowledge, not been done before.”

“The initial design phase therefore took a fair bit of time as detailed specifications had to be developed according to the system engineering principles of the Armscor acquisition process. We also had to develop the integrated logistic support. Sigma Logistic Solutions were subcontracted as a logistics engineering partner and have done a superb job to develop the manuals for operation and maintenance, all training curriculums and material as well as the full scope of logistic support analyses which allows the SANDF to support the systems with their existing logistic platforms.”

All systems were designed from scratch except for the Water Bottling and Water Sachet Plants. These plants comprise mobile water bottling and water sachet lines from Karcher Futuretech which were integrated locally. Local containers, shelters and ancillary equipment were used to complete integrated packages that would suit the South African context. The Water Sachet Plant is a 6 metre ISO container which has expandable sides and a diesel generator fitted. Inside is the process plant which can package 1 600 litres of water per hour in foil sachets.

The Water Bottling Plant comprises three 6 metre ISO containers of which one is the Karcher bottling unit; the other two containers hold the ancillaries and a large generator respectively. The unit is covered with a shelter by RCS to allow for a clean and controlled working environment. This unit can produce up to 1 300 one-litre bottles per hour and does so from raw pre-forms and caps. It blow-moulds the bottles in the field. This means that one pallet of consumables allows for 8 600 bottles to be produced in remote areas and one container can take up to 20 of these pallets. Thus the SANDF can clean their own water and bottle it on site, allowing major cost benefits by not having to transport heavy pre-packaged water to their camps or relief areas. Six Bottling Plants and six Sachet Plants were successfully produced and delivered by 2017.

Different configurations of pump sets were delivered and in total amounted to about 147 production items. The tanks amounted to 280 items. Water is stored in two ways: self-supporting tanks and bladder tanks. The self-supporting tanks have a capacity of between 10 000 and 40 000 litres while the bladder tanks can hold between 3 000 and 10 000 litres.

The Mobile Water Purification System is the heart of the Water Provisioning System and has been tested thoroughly and adapted for local conditions. It is a 3 x 2.4 metre shipping container which can open on all sides. It houses a generator and all ancillary equipment to clean any type of water in remote areas. It has the capability to clean surface water as well as sea water with its ultra filtration and reverse osmosis capabilities. The desalination capability has been proven at SAS Saldanha with great results, Malutsa said. Sixty of these units are contracted and production is roughly half-way for these.

Except for the Karcher imports, Malutsa said it has made extensive use of local contractors to maximise local content. Fabrication and manufacturing has taken place at the company’s two premises in Wellington. “We are of the opinion that the first ever production line for mobile water treatment plants has been established here in South Africa,” Viljoen said.

The project is expected to be completed by the close of the 2020/21 financial year and the systems are currently being used in cleaning and packaging water for the SANDF.

Malutsa specialises in the design, construction, maintenance and service of water and wastewater treatment plants as well as the supply of water and wastewater treatment chemicals and consumables. Target markets include all major industrial and municipal sectors where desalination, water treatment, effluent treatment and specialised separation of process streams are required.

Malutsa often supplies reverse osmosis water treatment plants to rural municipalities in water-stressed areas. In 2005 the company was active in the Indian Ocean tsunami relief effort, having been approached by the South African government, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, UNICEF, the Red Cross and the Maldives government Department of Water.

The company was established in 1997 by Bernard Cannon and Nathan Herbert with majority shareholding by previously disadvantaged South Africans – today it is a 100% Black Owned SME employing 150 people. Today it has expanded into construction, precision engineering and textiles as well.

Viljoen said Malutsa stands apart from its competitors thanks to its ability to offer a total turn key package, being able to take a project from inception through to concept, design, fabrication, procurement, integration, manufacturing, commissioning, operation, maintenance stages and can supply the consumables.