As a result corrosion-related problems are often not focused on by engineers and plant personnel and become worse, says CorriSA president John McEwan.
Corrosion only becomes a significant focus at masters or doctorate degree level, he reports.
Most engineers leave university without a full knowledge of the impact of corrosion, and its related problems.
This is why CorriSA offers a number of courses and conferences on corrosion and its control.
These include basic corrosion courses, and a coatings inspector course.
The latter is approved by the South Africans Qualifications and Certification Committee (SAQCC) for corrosion.
The basic corrosion courses are normally presented three times a year, twice in Gauteng and once in Kwazulu-Natal.
About 250 people have completed the basic corrosion course over the last ten years, reveals McEwan.
He relates that the courses offered by the institute subsidise the body’s other activities.
Currently, CorriSA is in discussions with the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE International) to become a licensee to run NACE courses in Africa.
McEwan says there is a growing need for internationally recognised corrosion qualifications within Africa.
This is necessary as a number of foreign companies are investing in Africa, especially in the oil industry, where corrosion has a significant effect.
Foreign companies use internationally acceptable specifications, and corrosion engineers and inspectors working on these projects are often required to be NACE-qualified.
McEwan says that a decision on the courses will be reached within the next six months.
Being able to present the courses will be good for the country and the institute, says McEwan.
Currently, CorriSA has a membership of just under 400.
Of these 120 are companies and corporations, and the rest are individual members.
Apart from its members in this country, the organisation also has members in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Swaziland, Brazil and Australia.
Membership varies from academics to contractors and suppliers of corrosion-control equipment, says McEwan.
He relates that the institute started as what one could term an academic brotherhood.
However, in time, the organisation has become more commercially-orientated.
McEwan believes that corrosion control as a profession should be marketed more intensely.
There are plans afoot to increase corrosion awareness for matric and Grade 11 pupils at schools around the country.
The industry is also still dominated by ‘pale males’, says McEwan, and the involve-ment of other race groups and women must be increased.
He says that there should be a change in mindset by the industry.
Many companies do not fully appreciate the impact of corrosion on their business, and simply choose the least expensive option when considering corrosion control, rather than looking at a more cost-effective long-tern scenario.
Companies must begin to realise how important corrosion is, says McEwan.
However, the culture is changing in the country and companies are on the right track, he enthuses.
Although there is a skills shortage, the current crop of corrosion specialists are as good as any elsewhere in the world.
South Africa hosted the International Corrosion Council’s conference in Cape Town in 1999. It remains the largest technical conference held in Africa and was acknowledged as one of the best yet, McEwan tells Engineering News.
CorriSA is holding an international conference on May 19 and 20, entitled ‘Innovation in Coatings’.
Industry experts from Brazil, the UK, Australia and Southern Africa will be attending the conference, which will be held in Muldersdrift, Gauteng.