Dave Gouws is more at home on a 125ft oil rig than a racing yacht.

But manufacturing comes in all shapes and sizes and the Cape Town businessman found himself thrown into the custom-end of his profession during the most recent Ocean Race. Gouws cut his engineering teeth in the offshore oil & gas sector; the Ocean Race was no less demanding, although more frenetic.

“When the boats all came in it was crazy — everything had to be repaired,” he tells SABBEX. “Lots of things were broken.”

Gouws was teamed up with Fused Composites to deliver much-needed repairs. “We were fixing stuff then they sailed off again.”

The Ocean fleet may have gone but work keeps coming over the horizon for Gouws and the CNC Carbide Manufacturing team which operate out of a facility in Kommetjie. They offer precision metal processing across the spectrum, from tiny to fairly enormous, with a long list of projects under their tool-belt.

Co-founded four years ago by Gouws and his partner, the Company recently signed up with SABBEX on the back of ongoing work in the boatbuilding sector.

Gouws says his background in offshore engineering helps inform custom design on a range of products where versatility and innovation is required. Company operations include press production work, sheet metal work, CNC milling and turning, fabrication, power coating, and metal component manufacturing.  Machinery includes a CNC High-Speed machining centre / Surface

Grinding centre, and a Lathe / Turning centre.

Significantly, these days CNC Carbide attracts a fair chunk of work for the yachting industry, including prototyping of high-end components. Gouws sees his work with Fused Composites as a positive sign of the local sector’s ability to compete with the best in the business. “It’s high-end stuff, mainly masts, all export.”

He does similar prototyping for the oil & gas sector, albeit on a different scale. Other sectors include food and aerospace. “They come up with a prototype, I build their models and test them,” says Gouws of the process.

Typically the business focuses on high-end product types requiring more precision engineering – “the kind of thing people are reluctant to have produced in China”,  Gouws says.

Looking ahead he sees growth in marine manufacturing, particularly at the top-end where South Africa is fast making a name for itself, buoyed by competitive costs and a growing pool of boatbuilding skills. “It’s a hub and I think our pricing is good. I would say it is definitely a growing market.”

“It’s like a wave – one can’t really predict it at the moment, especially in manufacturing,” he adds with an air of past experience.

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