The South African bolt and fastener industry is in excellent shape, with the product easily meeting international safety standards, says Krugersdorp-based fastener manufacturer CBC Fasteners MD Robert Pietersma.
“For example, the manufacturing process at CBC Fasteners is monitored by a full in-process quality control system; certified to ISO 9001:2008,” he explains.
He highlight that all the company’s steel is bought in the form of wire coil from steel producer ArcelorMittal South Africa’s Newcastle facility, in KwaZulu-Natal.
“This ensures that the company always has stock available and we can be certain of the compliance to steel supplier certification,” he says.
Further, Pietersma says each cast is tested in CBC Fasteners’ onsite metallurgical laboratory – including tensile testing – before manufacturing starts.
CBC Fasteners’ quality has been endorsed by the market with its products having been used in the construction of iconic projects such as the Nelson Mandela Bridge, which is located between Braamfontein and Newtown in Johannesburg’s central business district, and at State-owned power utility Eskom’s Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power stations, in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, respectively.
In the export market, CBC Fasteners products were used on the 135 m tall London Eye ferris wheel on the south bank of the River Thames and a building in the Canary Wharf business district, both located in London, England.
According to Pietersma, one of the most important aspects of safety is the traceability of every manufactured item.
“Traceability of CBC Fasteners products is ensured during the manufacturing process and is marked on all our packaging. In certain Class 3 applications (high risk installations such as bridges and power stations), further traceable identifications are stamped on the item itself during production,” he explains
Further, he says when it comes to construction, the entire steel construction team, from fabricator to erector, has a responsibility to maintain the traceability process.
“Unfortunately, this is generally where the trace can sometimes be lost, and I would appeal for greater care in this area,” stresses Pietersma.
He says fastener failure, albeit rare, is typically a result of incorrect or inappropriate installation rather than in production and, as a result, CBC Fasteners offers its customers detailed, project-specific training.
“A steel construction CBC Fasteners training manual is a full-colour, illustrated document covering the fastener manufacturing process; fastener materials; strength designations; an explanation of torque and tension; mechanical properties of fasteners; selection of the correct type of fastener; understanding friction in the tightening process; tightening bolts; good practice and precautions regarding installation of fasteners (including checking/audit of connections); traceability and storage of fasteners; fastener failure; and examples of installation errors,” explains Pietersma.
Additionally, he says a steel construction CBC Fasteners training manual also includes a project-specific and client-approved work instructions covering, for example, high-strength bolting guidelines, installation of high-strength bolts and high-strength bolt assembly traceability.
CBC Fasteners manufactures a range of fasteners, from 6 mm to 30 mm wide as well as set screws and nuts, mild-steel cup square bolts, mild-steel CSK nibs, mild-steel plough bolts, cup oval bolts and hexagon nuts.
Additionally, it manufactures a number of specialised fasteners such as rivets, lockbolts and collars.
Pietersma highlights that all these products are used in the mining, construction, power utility, agricultural and automotive industries
“CBC Fasteners takes pride in the high-strength contruction fastening assemblies supplied to power stations, which include full suitability testing requirements of EN14399,” he says.
Pietersma says the manufacturing process starts with a series of baths to prepare the steel coils, which then proceed through a four- to five-station cold-forging process to shape the bolts or nuts in stages. This forging takes place under extremely high pressure, using hardened tooling.
“About 350 6 mm bolts can be forged a minute and in the case of a 20 mm bolt, this is reduced to about 60 a minute,” Pietersma explains.
Further, he says the shaping is followed by thread rolling/tapping. The product may then pass through three continuous heat-treatment lines to produce high-tensile product; correct temperature heat settings ensure consistency in hardness levels, but, further testing is also contiguous.
“At CBC Fasteners, a final quality assur-ance inspection is undertaken, which – depending on the product – may include additional laboratory tests, such as tensile testing, carburisation and decarburisation, as well as steel toughness tests,” he states.
“CBC Fasteners has adopted quality procedures to conform to world standard specifications of ISO 898:2013, Part 1 and 2. Thereafter, the design engineers must ensure that they have designed their structure to ensure that the correct fasteners are used and correctly installed,” Pietersma points out.
He says the South African fasteners industry is facing severe challenges with the decline of mining and the continuing threats posed by imports. While the rand’s decline could bring some benefit, Pietersma says, this remains to be seen.
“In South Africa, industry’s preference for buying local becomes ‘paper-thin loyalty’ when it comes to price. For a number of years Asian imports have been competitive for a variety of reasons; at times South Africa’s relatively strong currency as opposed to the managed Asian exchange rates (specifically China and Malaysia), low labour costs in Asia, and South Africa’s escalating energy costs. The weakening rand may be a reprieve,” he says.
CBC Fasteners was established in 1998 and owns a 10 000 m2 factory facility, including 17 boltmakers and nine nut formers, while employing 205 people.
“CBC Fasteners ensures that production benefits from specialist expertise, while offering competitive pricing, 95% availability and client-orientated flexibility, on-time delivery, solid understanding of end-user requirements, established partnerships with distribution channels, after-sales service and technical back-up,” Pietersma concludes.