Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  15 Dec 2008

ENGINEERING: Still Keen Demand for Cutting and Welding


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THE current downturn impacting on the manufacturing industry has left sales of arc welding and plasma cutting systems largely unaffected – a trend driven primarily by the large infrastructural projects currently in progress.

Afrox arc equipment product manager Brian Clarke says  following on this trend is a switch to more sophisticated machines and systems among individual customers - a reflection of the continuing skills shortage affecting key industries.

“Parallel to the changes in overall buying patterns, within individual market segments we have seen demand for advanced welding and cutting machines growing,” Clarke says.

Afrox, the Southern African distributor of Miller arc welding and plasma cutting equipment, says it is the leading supplier of complete welding processes, including metal inert gas (MIG), tungsten inert gas (TIG), and specialised systems for joining  steel pipeline sections and engine-driven inverters for arc welding in remote locations.

“Our approach takes in all processes and the components of welding and cutting - process development support, and full service and technical back-up for the Miller range through the Afrox Services Engineering Division.”

Clarke says Afrox has noticed the shift in focus among its customers to  advanced weld control systems which improve arc starts, control burnback, prevent wire sticking and improve quality and output, in addition to plasma cutting equipment which offers more accurate, higher-quality cutting performance.

Companies requiring this type of equipment are currently serving industries displaying sustained growth in the face of the economic downturn during the course of the year. Power generation, rail, shipbuilding, general construction and mining are the markets positively affected.

“This is where the growth is, but is also the areas where there is the greatest demand for specialised welding and cutting skills which remain in short supply.”

“For this reason Miller machines that make use of computer technology to simplify set-up and welding and cutting parameters, have experienced strong underlying demand as they enable the workshop or site supervisor to closely control processes with less skilled operators.”

By employing this technology fabricators are able to maintain acceptable production and quality levels with lower-skilled workers – a necessity in the current environment.

“As the established Miller distributor for more than 35 years, we have seen many peaks and troughs in the market as they track economic fortunes. This time things are different where we have seen certain sectors grow as others have tailed off, and certain classes of equipment grow in popularity as others have received less emphasis,”  Clarke says.

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