Welding-wire specialist sticks to core business

17th June 2005 By: abdul cook

The world’s leading manu-facturer of tubular welding wire – commonly termed flux-cored wire – associated welding equipment and special-ised services in rebuilding and hardfacing to reduce component wear, has an unusual competitive advantage over many other weld-ing companies.

Established about 30 years ago – with sister companies worldwide and a parent company based in the UK – Welding Alloys South Africa (Wasa) manufactures tubular welding wire that can be used on a continuous basis, lending itself to automation.

“Since the electrode is pro-duced in a continuous wire form, more efficient weld runs can be achieved, hence improved productivity,” says Wasa MD Roy Gibbs. Wire diameters range from 1,2 mm up to about 4 mm and are sold in lots of 15 kg, 25 kg and 300 kg.

Depending on the diameter of the wire, the 300 kg drum consists of about 6,5 km of welding wire. “Computer-aided and automatic machinery can now also be used in the weld process, as there will be a reduced call for human inter-vention in increasingly complex welding processes,” says Gibbs. An example is the automatic rebuilding of steel mill rolls. Further, it will result in an improved quality of weld that can be duplicated on different oper-ations. Although the group of com-panies produce some fabrication wire, the core focus is on hard-facing and wear-resistant products and service.

“This is generally performed on large pieces of plant that have become worn and require protec-tion,” says Gibbs.

“In most instances it is eco-nomically feasible to weld and rebuild the part of the plant that has become damaged, rather than scrap the entire component,” he adds.

Wasa has successfully com- pleted projects for the earth-moving, cement, waste man-agement, paper, food, mining, steelmaking and mineral-pro- cessing industries, and is con-fident that it can handle any job in the area of high-abrasive wear.

“Hard-weld protective layers have been placed on various plants, machinery and equipment for companies like Sasol, High-veld Steel and other similar com-panies,” says Gibbs. “Depending on the size of the project, hardfacing is either done in-house at our plant in Springs, on the East Rand or on-site,” he adds. The service performance of components hardfaced by the company has proved that great cost savings can be achieved com-pared to replacement with a new part – either cast or forged. The average life of a continuous casting roll without being hard-faced is about 300 000 t of steel, while, with hardfacing, this in-creases to about three-million tons of steel.

A sinter plant has also increased its production from 8 000 t a day to about 11 000 t a day with the introduction of hardfacing.

This ‘technology’ can also be applied to crushing mills, hammer mills, turbines, rotating excavators, conical gyratory crushers and various other equip-ment. All machinery operated by the group of companies is manu-factured in-house especially for them, making it unmatched by any other weld manufacturer.

An associated advantage to this is that the company is able to manufacture products that have high deposition rates coupled with automation, has high-quality mechanical or weld properties and can produce hard-wear-resistant alloys in a continuous form for the weld process.

In addition to manufacturing tubular wire in Roodepoort, on the West Rand, Wasa’s Integra plant in Springs manufactures hardfaced wearplate. This is supplied as flat sheet or can be cut and formed for applications such as screens, chutes, classifiers and pipes. Integra has installed a sophisticated mach-ine which it is jointly developing with its UK parent company, to hardface the inside of pipe bends.

All of Wasa’s products are manu-factured in South Africa using mainly local raw materials but, since most raw materials are commodity-based, with the strengthening of the rand, the company finds itself importing more raw materials. “But we are still competitive in the market, compared to those companies that import the finish-ed product,” claims Gibbs.

The company is ISO 9001:2001 certified and, as part of an inter-national company, manufactures to those standards.

Although Wasa is 100% owned by its UK parent company, all profits are reinvested in the local company.

“This benefits all employees, as profits are used to expand the local business, create new jobs and improve worker conditions,” says Gibbs.

The company has about R3-million-worth of inventory in-house, and takes about ten days lead time to manufacture new products if out of stock.