With innovation as its key driver, the company has developed an array of proprietary technologies in collaboration with top universities in the field of engineering. It now provides business solutions, quantity surveying, specialised piping systems and solutions, and specialised procurement services.
With the South African mining industry faced with transformation, economic and technological challenges such as increased mechanisation, BT Industrial saw a gap to increase its value-added proposition for its customers in this space.
"In order to keep our spirit of innovation alive, we wanted to move into industrial solutions to continue to differentiate ourselves," managing director Kgomotso Lekola commented. Here the main focus was minerals-processing plants and refineries, which have specific engineering requirements.
Lekola added: "Given our relative size, we spend a lot on research and development compared to many other much larger companies. We had to come at it with the aim of doing something different. What has helped us gain traction in such a short space of time is our ongoing commitment to innovation."
BT believes that without innovation, the only differentiator is price, and without scale it is impossible to compete with the entrenched players.
"You have to bring real value to the table, which is what we have always strived to do. Having said that, constantly coming up with new ideas is difficult, combined with the general risk aversion of industry," Lekola explained.
Lekola's involvement with the mining industry began with his acquisition and further strategic development of AfricaWeather, a leader in weather-risk management for the mining industry. This paved the way to develop more technological solutions for mines, and hence BT Industrial was established.
"This gave me direct exposure to the mining industry in terms of both its business risks and opportunities," Lekola explained. He said that the company has been working on an array of innovative processes and techniques for proactive maintenance in process plants and mines that it will launch officially in early 2019. Pilot trials are currently being undertaken in conjunction with a major industry player.
"We want to complete the pilot trials first in order to showcase our value proposition, following which we will come to market with full guns blazing. It is very exciting for us. I am of the view that the only way to be successful in this industry in Africa is to be able to innovate. This allows you to stay ahead of the pack without being mired in price-cutting exercises, which end up being costlier in the long run, as it detracts from the total return on investment," added Lekola.