NCM was founded in 1989 in South Africa and has been providing products to improve the overall safety and productivity in mining. What was the rationale behind establishing a permanent presence in Zambia?
DG: For the past 25 years, NCM has operated exclusively in South Africa and NCM’s move into the Zambian market is part of a wider corporate expansion strategy. Zambia was selected because of its expanding copper industry and NCM is now in the process of setting up a production facility in Kitwe. We aim to have more machinery available with a view to assemble our products here, employ more Zambians and channel our products also to other export markets such as the DRC and Tanzania.
What achievements are you most proud of in the 25 years of NCM’s operations?
DG: NCM was awarded first place in the safety category at Anglo American Plc 2011 Supplier Awards competing against 10,000 other suppliers to win this award. This category recognises outstanding achievements in improving Anglo American safety record and overall safety culture. NCM is serious about its products and believes that key to building long-term relationships with our clients is providing reliable, consistent and timely support around our products.
NCM is known for its hydraulic roof vaulting systems. What is the advantage of this technology?
DG: NCM hydraulic roof vaulting systems have been successful in South Africa. The main advantage is that once the product has been installed, a loaded length indicator tells whether the product has been installed correctly. Most mining operators in South Africa with good safety records utilize NCM’s products and this is something of which we are very proud.
NCM is internationally accredited under ISO 9001:2008, what were the reasons behind obtaining this accreditation and what areas did the accreditation cover?
DG: The reason for obtaining an international accreditation system was to verify that NCM systems are world-class and ensuring the company is a progressive organisation with satisfied customers. The accreditation covered areas such as human resource management, product planning, customer communication, design, purchasing, service provision and customer satisfaction surveys together with the more obvious monitoring and measuring of processes and product.
How much emphasis does NCM put on research and development (‘R&D’)?
DG: NCM invests substantially on R&D and we can currently count on a team of six engineers, an engineering manager and three rock mechanics working on various projects in our R&D department in South Africa. These projects are focused around innovative mining support solutions. An example of this capability is the Hydrabolt – hydraulic roof bolting system, the Jackpot with internal PRV (pressure relief valve) which provides accurate hydraulic yield, a combination nozzle for correctly inflating both Jackpots and Hydrabolts from the same high pressure Airpump, the RS-Bolt for use in stopes where the fall-out thickness to be supported is greater than the stoping width and the FOGLight electronic telltale. NCM focuses substantially on new products and our wider corporate philosophy is to make our products obsolete before the opposition does.
Is technical on site training available to your mining customers?
DG: NCM employs underground observers, their function is to assess whether our products are being utilized according to NCM installation procedures and specifications. If our observers find that our products are not being installed correctly we offer on-site training. In Zambia we are currently employing three with the intent of expanding on our workforce once our sales increase.
How does NCM intend to contribute to the development of human capital in Zambia and how are you finding the level of education of your local employees?
DG: NCM believes that to be successful we need to be part of the communities in which we operate. Contributing to the development of human capital in Zambia will therefore be a priority and we are already successfully doing so in South Africa, where we are supplying science departments of local schools with computer systems. The level of education of our local workforce is good with our current employees speaking good-level English and being respectful and humorous people.
IC: NCM provides in house training and our employees are sent to South Africa to attend induction programs aimed at showcasing how the manufacturing process works. NCM also provides more basic training in Zambia so that when our employees are in the field they can address our customers’ queries promptly and professionally.
What are your expectations in Zambia in the mid term?
DG: In South Africa, NCM has been successful over the last ten years by supplying quality products and giving high levels of after sales service and our aim is to replicate this success in Zambia. In terms of expansion on the African Continent, NCM is also looking at Tanzania, the DRC, Ghana, Malawi and Burkina Faso.