The South African Fluid Power Association (Safpa) expects the results of the second fluid power market survey to be released soon.
The survey, which is based on the 2010 calendar year and coordinated by the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), was used to establish the size of the domestic fluid power market. This information is useful to both local suppliers and international trade commissions and is available for purchase from the association, says Safpa president Norman Hall.
He adds that first-time importers of hydraulic and pneumatic goods were asked to participate in the survey to enable TUT to determine the value of first-time imports of hydraulic and pneumatics goods, as well as hoses and fittings.
The survey is a follow-up to the association’s 2005 market survey.
Further, the association is also finalising the development of a hydraulic handbook, which will serve as a basic training tool and provide basic calculations, drawings, symbols and concepts.
The book is in its final stages of composition and will be released within the next two months, says Hall.
He stresses Safpa’s commitment to stimu- lating and promoting education and training, adding that the association is currently reviewing methods to help member companies contribute to the social upliftment and enterprise and skills development of industry professionals, using the broad-based black economic-empowerment Codes of Good Practice.
The association has developed a training course for fluid-power fitters, which was recently registered with the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Merseta).
“The course was developed for technical school leavers and we are trying to equip them with qualifications as fluid power professionals. We want to train people to become engineers or fitters in the fluid power industry and we are still in the early stages of that development,” says Hall.
However, he emphasises that current industry professionals often do not have the time or the facilities to properly train students.
He adds that there are no institutions that can train people to the standards of Merseta and Safpa, pointing out that there is an urgent need for such training bodies to be established.
Further, as part of its objective to raise the standards of the hydraulics and pneumatics industry, the British Fluid Power Association (BFPA) has endorsed Safpa on a number of developments.
This includes Safpa’s one-day training course on hose safety.
This one-day course, covering the basics of working with hydraulic hoses, teaches the correct assembly of hydraulic hoses and fittings and highlights the inherent dangers of incorrect assembly of these products.
As a result of the high pressures inside hoses, the consequences and injuries resulting from a leak or burst can be quite severe.
The BFPA endorsed Safpa to run this course in various provinces. It will be presented in Johannesburg on May 18, July 20, September 21 and October 19; in Durban on May 11 and August 17; and in Cape Town on August 24.
Meanwhile, Safpa is also responsible for the accreditation of reliable hose manu- facturers.
“We find all too often that, in small towns, different products of different quality are used together on one application and this is not good practice. We audit companies to find out how they manufacture hoses, how they house their stock and the quality controls they have in place, and measure this against our standards.
“We want customers to look for Safpa accreditation so that they know they are buying quality products,” states Hall.
He urges the industry and end-users to pressure hose suppliers to have their procedures accredited, as this will highlight which products are safe, high-quality products and should improve industry standards over time.
Hall says the risks associated with high pressure and hydraulics are real and cannot be overlooked.
He suggests that companies be aware of the products they use in applications and ensure that these are good-quality products, as the consequences of incorrectly using products could be life threatening.
He further suggests that pressure vessels be tested every two or three years, as required by either the Mines Health and Safety Act or the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“Do not take shortcuts. If you buy cheap, you buy twice. There are continuous changes in pressure vessel regulations so these vessels must be pressure-tested regularly by an accredited inspection authority, a list of which is available on the South African National Accreditation System website,” he says.