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Merger results in beneficial services

ANDREW POOLE The merger with GSI enables First Cut to offer customers welding safety consulting, analysis and assessments, which has strengthened the company’s welding division

WAYNE LABUSCHAGNE Digitisation, automation and the move to Industry 4.0 has resulted in the digital integration of objects, including machinery and systems, that ‘talk’ to each other

29th April 2022

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Online Writer

     

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A leading provider of welding, cutting and grinding consumables and equipment First Cut and gas safety training and equipment company Gas Safety International’s (GSI) aim – through their merger of interests – is to mitigate the challenges in the metal fabrication industry through increased value proposition, welding training and safety expertise.

These challenges include high raw-material costs and inconsistency of supply, owing to material shortages; increasing energy costs; load-shedding and a shortage of skilled artisans.

“Many local metal-working businesses also face over-capacity and have significantly less work than they are capable of handling,” says First Cut new business development manager Wayne Labuschagne.

First Cut MD Andrew Poole adds that overcapacity implies underused assets which, in turn, raises costs and results in a “vicious lack of demand cycle”.

However, overcapacity does not undermine opportunities in the industry.

“Our recent merger of interests with respected industry stalwart GSI late last year showcases how we have increased our value proposition. GSI provides certified gas safety training and quality gas equipment for a range of sectors to ensure a safe and efficient working environment.”

The merger, therefore, enables First Cut to offer customers welding safety consulting, analysis and assessments, which has strengthened the company’s welding division, adds Poole.

It also enables First Cut to enhance its capabilities and offer a more holistic solution to customers.

“Our customers are benefiting through our combined portfolio of excellent international suppliers, providing them with a wider selection of products and the ability to deliver appropriate solutions for individual applications and requirements,” says Poole.

While GSI primarily focuses on applying its entrenched safety training to the mining industry, the merger has enabled First Cut to apply these safety standards across the metal fabrication and other target sectors.

With GSI’s expert input, First Cut has developed a one-day Level 1 introductory welding safety course to introduce the relevant concepts and practices to the metal fabrication sector, including oral testing in their first language for welders who are not fully literate.

The merger has also enabled both parties to provide site visits and initial welding safety audits. Thereafter, First Cut provides welding training courses at three levels, with the third being an advanced course.

Further, with GSI’s list of mining contacts and business relationships, First Cut expects a synergistic expanded footprint where both companies have previously operated.

First Cut opened its latest branch in Witbank, Gauteng, last year to service the mining and engineering sectors.

“While expanding our footprint is still nascent, we are also leveraging our existing customers and making them aware of our expanded offering,” says Poole.

Industry Potential

Poole says automation is significantly improving fabrication and manufacturing companies’ productivity and costs, thereby presenting opportunities despite industry challenges.

Technological advances in fibre laser cutting machines offer quicker cutting times for less energy expenditure, resulting in greater capacities.

“Today, fibre laser cutting machines of up to 30 kW and, importantly, software-driven automation mean that these supersonic cutting machines are supplied or ‘fed’ metal materials correctly and timeously,” adds Poole.

Digitisation, automation and the move to Industry 4.0, and latterly Industry 5.0, has resulted in the digital integration of objects, including machinery and systems, that ‘talk’ to each other.

“By carrying out processes quicker and with a better control of costs, it becomes possible to provide customers with adequate feedback, thereby offering them a competitive advantage,” he explains.

Poole cites First Cut’s sister company, technical engineering solutions company Tekenso’s eTrack manufacturing software solution as an example of this.

“E-Track enables the provision of fast and accurate fabrication and manufacturing operational intelligence, which is flexible, interoperable and modular.”

Edited by Zandile Mavuso
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features

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