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Tuesday, 08 October 2013 14:58

Tapping into great savings

Cobra Watertech recently embarked on a resource-efficiency and cleaner production (RECP) programme with the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA) that was highly successful.
RECP programme provides outstanding results

Cobra taps are a literally a household name, with millions of them in homes across the country. Now South Africans can install Cobra with even greater confidence that this local product is contributing to the sustainability of our economy. This after Cobra Watertech underwent a process of implementing resource efficiency and cleaner production interventions at two of its plants. Implementation is still underway, but work done thus far will result in over R1,5 million of resource savings per year.  

Established in 1951, Cobra Watertech is 100% South African owned as a wholly owned subsidiary of Dawn Distribution & Warehousing Network, with two manufacturing facilities in Gauteng – in Springs and Krugersdorp.

Both these plants are ISO 9001 certified, and Cobra prides itself on manufacturing to exacting quality and performance standards that comply with international and SABS quality-assurance standards.

In line with these objectives, Cobra Watertech underwent resource efficiency and cleaner production (RECP) assessments at both Gauteng plants in 2011. The assessments were conducted by the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA), which offers subsidised assessments to industry as the RECP arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).  

Over the past two years, the Cobra team has implemented changes in line with the RECP assessment recommendations, as well as a number of their own initiatives.  

One such project was the furnace upgrade. This project involved a redesign of the gas plant, which improved the control of the gas-to-air ratio, employed much improved burner nozzles and produced a furnace that is far better insulated than the previous design.

This design reduces rework, reduces the instantaneous gas flow rate by 21% and increases throughput by 33%, providing a combined reduction of gas usage by 41%. Once all the furnaces are revamped, the resulting energy savings will be 6,985 GJ per year, or around R1.3 million. This means the payback period to recover the cost of converting all the furnaces (a total of R3.6 million) is an estimated 3.2 years.

Another project was the improvement of the power factor of the Springs plant at maximum demand – which has resulted in a substantial reduction of the site’s electricity bill. In the first phase the power factor was reduced from 0,68 to 0,86 at a cost of R26 000. Phase 2 saw a reduction from 0,68 to 0,99 at a cost of approximately R160 000. With annual savings of R 182,697 being realised as a result, the payback period for the overall project is less than one year.

Commenting on the success of this project, Frank van Zanten Solleveld, Cobra’s special projects director, said: “As a consequence we received a certificate of recognition for Cobra’s leadership and achievements through the Implementation of Resource Efficiency Best Practices (11 March 2013) – and at the SA Premier Business Awards, hosted by DTI, we were the Proudly SA and Brand SA finalist for Manufacturer of the Year (Dr Rob Davies) on 20 March 2013.

“The success of this project with the NCPC-SA has spurred us on to many more projects and initiatives,” he says. “Cobra had itself carbon-assessed in early 2010 and our carbon footprint was 23 671,55 tonnes of CO2. We have reduced this year on year by more than 10%.

“We have recently completed a massive overhaul of our Krugersdorp factory that now sees the plant boasting state-of-the-art technology, increasing its capacity to handle its exciting new product lines,” he says. “The plant has been increased with a new 8 000m² building, which now houses our new assembly plant and assembly lines.”

A major focus during this factory make-over was aligning the new plant with Cobra’s “green” objectives, and it now plays a major role in realising many of Cobra’s goals to reduce its carbon footprint, as energy-efficient and recycling technology has been employed wherever possible.

For example, the factory has always used a lot of water for pressure testing its products, together with an old effluent plant to treat wastewater. These systems have been upgraded to offer 100% water reclamation through closed loop systems that treat and recycle the water.

Cobra has also now established a SETA-accredited Artisan Academy at the factory in an effort to train quality artisans and plumbers to meet the ongoing need for these skills in the country.

NCPC-SA project manager overseeing the project, Azwihangwisi Takalani, says the efforts of Cobra Watertech team are an example to others in the metals sector, on which she focuses. “We were very impressed when we went back to do monitoring and evaluation earlier this year. Not only had they implemented recommended changes, but had initiated projects of their own.” 

Frank, together with Craig van Wyk from VWG Consulting who did the assessment on behalf of the NCPC-SA, recently presented the findings at Clean Business Ekurhuleni. Video footage of the presentation is available at  

In conclusion, Frank says: “I can assure you that the initiative of the National Cleaner Production Centre does work, and Cobra is proud and thankful for our association with them. We are already planning another initiative with them.”


Cobra Watertech

Tel: +27 861 21 21 21

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