Sub-Saharan Africa’s welding leader addresses need for cost-savings and skills transfer
As industry in South Africa continues to face economic challenges, Afrox is placing greater emphasis on fabrication and products that can be used for repair and maintenance rather than the more costly replacement option, says Shaun Christian, Business Management Strategy & Commercial at Afrox.
Afrox, sub-Saharan Africa’s leading supplier of gases, welding consumables and equipment, offers a range of welding and cutting products, such as electrodes, wires, welding machines and safety equipment used for a wide range of maintenance and repair applications in the agricultural, engineering and mining sectors, among others. As part of a totally integrated service and supply solution, Afrox also offers its customers process support to improve efficiency and productivity levels.
To demonstrate its commitment to assisting its clients to reduce costs in light of the current economic conditions, Afrox focused on in-house fabrication, repair and maintenance solutions at the 2016 NAMPO Harvest Day exhibition held from 17-20 May in Bothaville, Free State. Live demonstrations at their fabrication workshop was one of the highlights at the stand, where experts from Afrox’s manufacturing division physically demonstrated how to repair equipment instead of outsourcing or unnecessarily replacing existing machinery.
The company will be taking the same approach at Electra Mining where it will be showcasing its welding product and service offering at the mining, industrial, electrical and power trade show taking place from 12 to 16 September this year at the Expo Centre Nasrec in Johannesburg. Afrox will also be highlighting its aftermarket-servicing centre in Germiston.
“Our service centre is staffed by in-house technicians servicing customers’ machines both on-site as well as at our fully equipped repair centre. We also stock spare parts for all Afrox supplied welding and cutting machines backed with OEM supported warranties,” says Christian.
Current economic conditions in the fabrication and welding industries have also put pressure on skills and skills requirements as companies are forced to restructure to survive the downturn. According to Johan Pieterse, Afrox Manufacturing Industries Business Manager, companies then don’t have enough skilled people for new projects and import skills while training. These skills only become locally available by the time these projects are over, and usually without the necessary experience, he adds.
“As market leaders in the welding industry, we at Afrox realise that to improve our economy we have to focus on creating jobs for local people,” says Pieterse. Consequently, Afrox launched a skills development initiative in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) in response to the news that as of January 2016, the Department of Basic Education has reintroduced fitting and turning, automotive and welding as skills-based subjects at its technical high schools. Afrox assisted the GDE in revamping the available infrastructure at the schools by designing new training facilities.
Upon completion of the upgrades, Afrox supplied the schools with curriculum supporting equipment such as Afrox PortaPak® welding and cutting sets, Afrox Transarc® inverters, the new PortaMig welding machines as well as PPE and consumables to get started. Afrox also developed five one-day training courses for the teachers to improve their knowledge and skills, covering Safety; Oxyfuel welding and cutting; MMA welding; MIG/MAG/FCAW welding; and TIG welding. To date, 14 schools have been equipped by Afrox in readiness for the 2016 launch of the DBE’s RECAP programme.
“We intend to follow the young school-based learners who take up the welding course in 2016, with a view to offering them bursaries for welding apprenticeships and learnerships. Our ultimate goal is to see more young people taking up welding as a career and to create employment for skilled local people in our industry,” concludes Pieterse.