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Association remains steadfast amid challenging conditions

An image of trainees in the HDGASA's hot dip galvanising programme

MEETING NEEDS HDGASA offers an array of training programmes tailored to industry needs

1st March 2024

By: Nadine Ramdass

Creamer Media Writer

     

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On the back of the energy crisis and poor economic growth, steel consumption has decreased, resulting in the steel and steel-related industries contracting over the past decade. Despite these challenges, industry association Hot Dip Galvanizers Association Southern Africa (HDGASA) remains committed to promoting hot dip galvanising.

South Africa’s steel value chain has encountered a myriad of challenges that include reduced infrastructure spend, conflicting policy implementation, the pandemic and loadshedding, says HDGASA CEO Robin Clarke.

He stresses that an equilibrium in steel supply must be achieved through natural market forces.

“Policymakers need to assist by creating an equal playing field for all. The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition is heavily invested in the local mini-mills and there are fears that strategic policy may shift to safeguard these investments.”

Clarke also calls for the implementation of enabling policies and the acceleration of infrastructure spend that favours local beneficiation and job creation.

He adds that the potential closures at steel producer ArcelorMittal’s Newcastle and Van Der Bijl facilities, coupled with ongoing pressure on the local sector, may be partially compensated for through imports. However, he says there is concern that steel may be sourced to the lowest common denominator – or bought on price as opposed to specification.

For the galvanising sector, large variations in metallurgy will negatively impact on the aesthetics of the galvanising finish and this will be particularly challenging when a surface finish is required, such as in the architectural market, he adds.

“However, we must remain optimistic that this situation will improve. For example, the recent decision by roads parastatal the South African National Roads Agency to withdraw the highway bridges tender from the Chinese and re-advertise is cause for hope that local companies could now benefit,” says Clarke.

“We are also looking forward to local industry benefitting from other investments by State-owned entities such as Eskom’s Transmission Development Plan.”

Regardless, a coordinated and holistic view of the potential socioeconomic impact of a struggling national steel sector is urgently required, with concomitant policy implementation which considers – and balances – all the factors at play, Clarke asserts.

Mission
Despite these challenges, the association remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting and developing hot dip galvanising as the preferred and cost-effective corrosion control technology.

As part of the association’s multi-focused strategy to achieve its goal, it acts as an industry advocate, custodian and champion while interacting with various role-players throughout the steel and galvanising value chains.

A central component of HDGASA’s strategy is the provision of comprehensive training and information dissemination. This ranges from courses, presentations, technical research papers and manufacturing plant tours, as well as an advisory and technical inspection offering.

It also works closely with global and local regulatory and standards authorities in developing, translating and promoting quality standards regarding corrosion control in a variety of vertical industry sectors such as agriculture and civil engineering.

Training Courses
HDGASA works with its members, industry partners and end-users to determine key challenges and requirements in the steel and galvanising value chain.

The association found that many value chain participants lack insight on precisely how hot dip galvanising technology works. This includes aspects such as the development and application of the corrosion control coating, so that materials and processes can be correctly specified to achieve the best outcome.

Further, industry role-players also lack understanding of the quality standard against which the outcome is judged.

“The best way of marketing hot dip galvanising as a preferred corrosion control technology is to consistently deliver good projects. This depends on the knowledge, confidence and skills of the key participants in the sector,” says Clarke.

To achieve this, HDGASA offers an array of training programmes tailored to the needs of its members and industry partners. They range from foundational courses to advanced certifications focused on standards compliance and quality assurance, and the association equips professionals with the skills necessary to deliver excellence in galvanising projects.

HDGASA offers Level 1 and Level 2 training courses, which form the foundation of the association’s training offering. Those that pass the Level 2 course – which focuses on standards and how to measure compliance or noncompliance – earn a card from HDGASA that permits them to inspect hot dip galvanising against industry standards.

Clarke notes that delivering successful galvanising projects and building faith in the technology does not end with industry participants knowing how to specify and measure outcomes correctly.

Galvanisers must be well positioned to deliver in accordance with quality and safety specifications and standards. Therefore, HDGASA has developed courses for supervisors and employees to ensure they are upskilled on a regular basis.

Collaborations
Through its collaboration with national and international standards organisations, HDGASA ensures alignment with global best practices while facilitating the transfer of knowledge and skills across borders.

HDGASA represents its members through participation in the South African Bureau of Standards’ technical committee TC 107, which sets national standards.

The association partners with the international galvanising community and the International Organisation for Standardisation board. This enables the association to play a monitoring role in the local transfer and adaptation of standards.

HDGASA is also partners with voluntary association South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy to ensure that professionals attending the association’s courses are awarded the relevant career development points.

Clarke highlights that HDGASA’s courses have also gained international acceptance.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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