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May 02, 2003

Institute’s main aim is education

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© Reuse this The main focus of the South African Institute of Tribology (SAIT) is to provide education for and about the industry, says institute president Rob Hodgson.

SAIT presents a number of courses, including a materials and wear course and a lubrication engineering course, ranging from three to five days.

The institute also presents a one-day introductory course on tribology, for entry-level artisans and technicians.

The longer courses are aimed at middle management and higher, says Hodgson.

These courses are offered at the SAIT offices in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, or the institute will travel to a company to present the courses.

This is done when a company has 20 or more workers able to attend the course.

SAIT also has three to four one-day seminars a year.

The next seminar is planned for July 3, and will focus on fluid contamination control, Hodgson relates.

It will be held at the Bifsa convention park, in Midrand.

Hodgson tells Engineering News that these seminars often attract high-level representatives of foreign companies.

For instance, a representative from Caterpillar in the US attended one of the SAIT seminars to speak about what the company was doing regarding changes in heavy-duty engine design.

The one-day seminars are aimed at a broad cross-section of the industry.

Hodgson enthuses that these seminars are a mixing pot of ideas, with lecturers and attendees interacting in a more informal environment than that of a formal course.

He says that SAIT also arranges at least two technical trips a year to large oil companies or manufac-turers.

For instance, last year trips were arranged to South African Airways and SKF Bearings, and this year to the Engen grease plant.

The trips are relatively informal and Hodgson believes attendees are more willing to interact and ask questions when out of the corporate environment.

The institute also offers two certificate examinations, a certified lubrication specialist certificate and an oil monitoring analyst certificate.

These are hosted by SAIT for the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE), of the US, with whom the SAIT has a working agreement, says Hodgson.

Unfortunately, these are not accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority.

SAIT is currently too small to become an accredited education provider, and does not have the infrastructure.

However, if the members of the institute want the body to become accredited then all effort will be put towards this goal, Hodgson states.

He believes that, on a global scale, South Africa compares favourably in certain respects, and unfavourably in others. For example, Kumba Resources chief tribologist at Sishen Piet Hoffmann was invited to present a paper in Europe that he had first presented in South Africa.

On the other hand, companies are simply not prepared to pay for an expensive oil or high-quality lubricant that will save them money in the long run.

Investing in a good-quality lubricant will save companies money and save downtime when equipment breaks down, says Hodgson.

He tells Engineering News that SAIT has a number of awards for companies in the tribology and lubrication field.

For instance, the organisation has an award for technical achievement, and a lifetime achievement award, known as the Louw Alberts Award, which is presented to a person or company that has made a great contribution to the South African tribology field.

The institute also awards a best technical presentation award.

The institute also aims to keep the South African industry abreast of developments internationally and will be hosting the eighth inter-national tribology conference in March next year at the University of Pretoria.

Two world-renowned tribology experts, Professor Hugh Spikes, of the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, UK, and Dr Ali Erdemir, of the Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois, US will be the keynote speakers.
Edited by: Marius Roodt
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