DaveyTronic® facility at Secunda opens with a bang.

The newly built DaveyTronic® facility for the production of programmable electronic detonators, celebrated its official opening on 30 November 2022 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. This was followed by a braai for all Enaex Africa employees on site.

CEO Francisco Baudrand and the Enaex Africa Exco presided over the ceremony, which marked a significant milestone for us and for Daveytronic®. The facility is the first of its kind to be built outside of France. The detonators produced at the factory will be available to Enaex Africa’s operations across the region and will also supplement global supply when required.

Speaking at the event, Michael van Wyk, our CEO’s Technical Advisor, said that it was a remarkable day. “It’s amazing to consider the progress we’ve made. We need to bear in mind that making a robust and reliable detonator of this quality is not easy. Being able to produce detonators locally will allow us to really offer the value-add our customers are looking for”.

Davey Bickford, the holding company for Daveytronic® was founded by William Bickford in 1831 and bought by Chilean explosives and blasting services company Enaex in 2015. This heralded an ambitious global expansion programme by Enaex that saw the company expand into Brazil, Australia, the USA and now, South Africa.

Innovation is a key component of the Enaex global strategy, and this is reflected in Davey Bickford with 4% of annual turnover dedicated to R&D. The company is an industry leader in the development and production of electronic detonators.

For the operators and foreman that run the plant, the key is to work quickly but with focus. These are live detonators and must be handled with care. Not only is the facility fitted with an anti-static floor, but the rooms where the detonator are handled are kept at a higher relative humidity to prevent the build-up of static electricity.

The go-ahead to build the state-of-the-art facility was given in May 2021 and the plant was commissioned in September 2022. Along the way, the Secunda team, under the guidance of Jeff Adams, Project/ Production Manager: DaveyTronic® – Secunda Operations, worked closely with their colleagues in France to ensure the success of the project.

Jeff says that the project was a unique opportunity for everyone involved. “It’s not often that you get to build something from scratch, especially something so complex. This kind of project tests everybody’s character and abilities, and I have to say everyone really stepped up to the challenges along the way”.

Tshifhiwa Nkuna is the Production Foreman at the plant. Her responsibilities include overseeing the production process, resource allocation to meet daily targets, daily production planning and addressing issues as they arise. “This has been a whole new experience for me, with new responsibilities. We’ve already achieved some great milestones and there will be more to come,” says Tshifhiwa.

The plant’s installed capacity allows for future increases in production as required. John Schulze, COO and SHE Director, says that the facility is another example of Enaex’s commitment to growing our African business and is one of many planned expansion projects for the business. This allows for a greater amount of locally sourced raw materials and reduces Enaex’s dependence on imports, allowing the company to be more reliable and competitive in the market.