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Fire at SGB Smit – Power Matla transformer factory

South Africa, Pretoria: On Sunday, 7 March 2021, at approximately 16:30 hours, a fire was reported at the Powertech, SGB Smit – Power Matla, Pretoria West transformer manufacturing plant.

It has been reported that a fire broke out and the plant was evacuated. The emergency services were contacted and the fire was extinguished. No injuries have been reported, although four people had been treated for smoke inhalation.

Subsequently, an investigation has been launched to determine the root cause of the accident. The factory, it is understood, will remain closed until the investigation is concluded.

It is reported that several transformers had been destroyed in the fire. However, the fire was contained and prevented from spreading.

The impact on the business continuity is presently uncertain. The SGB Smit plant in Pretoria, formerly an ABB plant, manufactures large power transformers up to 800 MVA 420 kVA, whilst the plant in Cape Town manufactures distribution transformers. It is not possible to shift the production from one South African factory to another.

It is generally accepted that the strategic decision by SGB Smit to invest in and buy the Powertech Transformer plant in South Africa had been based on securing and maintaining their market share following the introduction of restrictive local content measures and legislation by the South African government.

These measures aimed to protect the local industry and severely impacted the importation of foreign manufactured transformers.

WEG, similarly to SGB Smit, has also invested in South Africa to ensure and retain its market presence.

Eskom, the South African power utility responsible for the generation, distribution and transmission of electrical power remains the most significant customer in this market.


Author: Chris Gerber

*The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Transformers Magazine and Merit Media Int.