Project services corporation Hydra-Arc Group is this year’s winner of the Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW) gold medal for skills development. Hydra-Arc comprises associated companies that operate primarily in the petrochemicals, construction, mining, power generation and water storage industries.
The medal will be presented at the yearly SAIW dinner on September 11 at the Emperors Palace Convention Centre, in Ekurhuleni.
This medal is a token of SAIW’s recognition of Hydra-Arc’s commitment to skills development in South Africa through its involvement in and commitment to the quality of welder artisan training, innovation in the field of fabrication (in the workshops), and completing the largest storage tanks fabricated in South Africa for petrochemicals major Sasol.
Hydra-Arc’s new Mshiniwami Artisan Academy is one of the largest in South Africa and trains 450 learner welders, 450 pipe fitters and 50 boilermakers a year. The success of the company’s training is apparent in that 96% of the academy’s graduates are currently employed in their respective trades, with 4% having taken up supervisory positions.
“Hydra-Arc has created about 1 500 new jobs in the past three years. Its commitment to skills development and empowerment is demonstrated by its current Level 2 broad-based black economic- empowerment certification,” says Hydra-Arc Group services engineering manager Ewan Huisamen.
Welding is a major component of Hydra-Arc Group’s core business and part of its human resources development strategy is to focus on upskilling welders to combat the serious lack of this specialised skill in South Africa. The planned training programme for welders that the learners are undergoing at the academy will take two years and includes theoretical, practical and in-field training. After the three-year training process, if they prove to be competent, learners may be certified as double-coded welders and will have to take a trade test.
“It is hoped that, after successfully completing the training programme, the learners will be employed as qualified welders,” he states.
Solution Installation and Delivery
Hydra-Arc is installing a 1 500 t overhead crane solution for its Sky Hill facility, in Secunda, commissioned by Crane manufacturer and distributor SA Cranes, and giving Hydra-Arc unrivalled capability. It is also due to receive one of the largest computer numerically controlled (CNC) boring mills in the world, fully installed and operational by mid-2016.
Automated welding processes, advanced CNC machining and profiling, automated manipulators and advanced three-dimensional scanning technology form part of Hydra-Arc’s client offering,
“We always strive to provide the best solution for our clients. Employing technology is integral to remaining competitive in the industry,” Huisamen adds.
Additionally, the company is doing welding work for Sasol’s capital projects in Secunda, which started in November last year. It has started to manufacture four stabilisation drums for Sasol Secunda as well. Hydra-Arc is also conducting extensive welding operations involving the supply of water tanks in rural areas.
Hydra-Arc has an in-house research and development section through which it has developed purpose-specific consumables and life-extending solutions for mining equipment and unique manipulators to address the technical needs of clients and ensure the sustainability of their businesses.
The company aims to expand into the rest of Africa quite aggressively. Huisamen says the world market is somewhat depressed, but “few things are getting investors as excited” as the gasfields off the coast of Mozambique and other offshore projects around Africa.
“Being an African company, we aim to form an integral part of the African economic renaissance,” he concludes.