Diversified technology company 3M has pro- vided the Southern Africa Stainless Steel Development Association (Sassda) with access to its customer technology centre and auditorium at its Woodmead premises, north of Johannesburg, to assist in the training of Sassda members.
The training entails technical education, product training and assisting with certain types of stainless steel finishes. Hands-on training in the use of machinery, equipment, power tools and different types of abrasives is also provided.
3M MD Len Moult says that the company provides facilities for training, as well as products and literature that might be required.
“That is really where 3M plays a role in Sassda – by helping to train and coach the membership to achieve efficiencies, and to add value to the marketplace,” says Moult.
3M is also participating, with Sassda, in its mobile exhibition unit initiative, Sassda on Safari.
Stainless steel is one of the key markets of focus for the company, which offers a num- ber of products for different stainless steel finishing appli- cations, specifically using abrasive minerals, such as its cubitron mineral.
Cubitron is a ceramic mineral that uses a patented process to enhance toughness and hardness of the grain. These abrasive mine- rals have the ability to remove welds and do not discolour the product. The company collabo- rates with stainless steel producers to achieve the particular finish required by the industry, and it is developing new products for different applications.
The company’s Cubitron abrasive grain mineral, which was developed in-house, has the ability to manage the heat gene- rated from the abrasive process. Abrasives made with Cubitron grain have exceptional durability and improved cutting efficiencies, says Moult.
“An abrasive can only reach its full potential efficiency with a tool that has the correct speed and cutting strength,” Moult points out.
He adds that 3M has designed a range of lightweight, high- performance tools, called Airtools. The tools are engineered to work with the 3M abrasive, and accessories.
Meanwhile, the company supplies products to many markets, but is also focused on increasing its industrial product portfolio, by continually searching for acquisitions to fill product and market gaps that may exist.
Moult says that although the economic crisis affected the industrial manufacturing sector of industry negatively, 3M has always been calculated in the execution of its business strate- gies. As a result, the company will not change any of its business strategies, only the pace at which the company carries the strategies out.
“In these difficult economic times, the industrial market is contracting and this is a challenge. 3M has to see how it can improve its efficiencies to maintain a strong position, particularly when the economic crisis is over,” says Moult.
The company aims to survive the current economic downturn, as well as increase its footprint in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. It will also introduce its existing products and applications into different markets.
“The infrastructure spend in South Africa is exciting, particularly at a time when the market is taking strain, and 3M is looking at how it can increase its opportunities towards 2010 and beyond,” says Moult.