In the 1950's, a large furniture manufacturing factory was built in central Africa for a European firm, designed to serve both the expanding local market and export to Europe. The factory had a dedicated rail siding, the ownership of a lumber forest, and excellent equipment. In the 1970's the factory was nationalised by the government, and the expatriate staff returned home. Despite good local management and steady demand, the 70+ machines suffered inadequate maintenance and within 15 years the output had dropped by 95%.

With the active participation of both the Swedish and Norwegian aid authorities, DIAK was appointed to redesign and rebuild the factory in two major phases. The old machinery was solid and not badly worn, but virtually all electric and moving parts were useless. The first stage was to survey the realistic economic chances of reviving the machines. DIAK completed the survey, specified modern motors and tooling, and rebuilt the moving parts to resuscitate 90% of the machines.

A new drying kiln was designed to fit into an unused framed building, then built as a kit for DIAK in the Netherlands and assembled on site by DIAK engineers. A modern sprayshop using advanced finishes was designed and installed. The old sewing centre was cannibalised and reformed into an upholstery shop. A modern Italian high speed production sander was installed to improve the finish of surfaces. A high pressure pneumatic circuit was laid around the factory. Finally all parts of the factory were joined together by an overhead extraction system, carefully designed to remove both the heavy chippings and fine sandings without fire risk.

The total project lasted 4 years and returned the factory to 95%+ capacity production. Their first major order was to successfully equip a new international hotel being built in the capital. DIAK then introduced the new management to furniture buyers in Europe to assist them recommence the export drive.

Machine shops

The European Union commissioned DIAK under their Stabex budget programme to assist a crop processing factory in central Africa. The factory needed to engineer a new layout using most of the existing machinery, but to accommodate a higher throughput and storage. With good local engineering talent, but a budget inadequate to buy ready made process lines, the decision was taken to equip the factory instead with their own engineering fabrication shop. DIAK researched, designed and supplied the machine tools and hand tools needed for this new shop, and provided a spares service and expert guidance thereafter. The factory progressively took out process lines, made new ducting, water pipework, structural supports and silos and over a 2 year period completed their own rebuild at very reduced rates compared with the import of a ready made system.