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Almost 70 years ago John Thompson (a division of ACTOM (Pty) Ltd) commenced manufacturing its iconic boilers at its Bellville South premises near Cape Town. This site has been developed and expanded over the years to become one of the top facilities of its kind in South Africa, staying abreast of technological developments and playing an innovative role in the engineering field. John Thompson has established an international reputation with exports to sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

The company is listed by Lloyds Register of Industrial Services as an approved manufacturer for Class 1 fusion welded pressure vessels. John Thompson’s quality system has been assessed and accredited to ISO 9001:2015 standards. Equipment is designed and built in accordance with a number of international codes and specifications. These include the EN European standards, the BS British standards, the ASME standards and ISO 3834 for welding. As part of its manufacturing offering, John Thompson provides comprehensive non-destructive testing services in all disciplines.

With 30 000 m 2 under roof, the manufacturing facility has the following equipment and capabilities:

  • Cranes: lifting capacity up to 100 t
  • CNC plasma and oxy-acetylene cutting
  • Profile cutting and flame planer: largest plate size 4 m x 14 m
  • Guillotine: up to 3 m wide x 12 mm thick
  • Plate rolling: up to 3.2 m wide and 65 mm cold
  • Press brake: up to 400 t, knife length 3 730 mm
  • Hydraulic press: up to 500 t
  • End-plate knuckling (flanging) capability up to 25 mm
  • Submerged arc welding machines: maximum boom travel vertical and horizontal – 6 100 mm
  • Thermal stress relieving oven (resistance): size 21 m x 5.15 m x 5.86 m; capacity 100 t
  • Radial and traveling bed drilling machines: maximum distance outside column to spindle centre 2 515 mm; maximum height under spindle 2 200 mm; maximum drill size 100 mm; travel 11 000 mm
  • CNC pipe bending: up to 115 mm diameter – cold bending; above 115 mm – hot bending
  • Automatic panel membrane wall welding machines – combined 20 head capacity on four machines
  • Panel bending machine
  • Automatic economiser tube fin welding machines
  • Pre- and post-weld heat treatment equipment for exotic material welding
  • Automatic tube to tube sheet welding – robotic and orbital processes
  • Furnace flue corrugating machine
  • Tube spiralling machine
  • Meehanite licenced foundry with two 1-ton furnaces. Working to ISO 3834 and supported by a permanent resident IWE and IWT, John Thompson’s weld procedures range from carbon steel to ASTM A213 T91.

The following welding processes are in use:

  • Flash butt welding
  • Manual metal arc welding
  • Flux cored arc welding
  • Oxy-acetylene welding
  • Metal cored arc welding
  • Submerged arc welding
  • Metal active gas (MAG & pulsed MAG)
  • Metal inert gas (MIG & pulsed MIG)
  • Tungsten inert gas (TIG & pulsed TlG)
  • Stud welding

As a proudly South African business, John Thompson prides itself in home – grown expertise. As part of its training and development programme it has been conducting a comprehensive apprentice training programme for welders and boilermakers for almost 30 years. At any given time, there are upwards of 50 apprentices in training at the Bellville site.

Aside from fire tube and water tube boiler new-builds and retrofits, the Bellville operation has successfully taken on a diverse spectrum of other fabrication work for the mining, steel making and power generation sectors. The types of equipment that John Thompson has manufactured include waste-heat boilers, deaerators, autoclaves, shell and tube heat exchangers, gas cooler hoods, multiple hearth roasters and floating dock headstocks.