Atrade fair for tooling, mouldmaking, design and development has been initiated in a bid to stimulate the drive to train more toolmaker artisans in South Africa, AfriMold MD Ron MacLarty tells Engineering News.
The AfriMold trade fair took place at the Gallagher Convention Centre, in Midrand, from October 10 to 12.
The toolmaking industry has not shown significant progress in the last decade and has been reserved to small, niche customers, owing to skills shortages. Not enough young people are being trained as toolmakers; therefore, the South African industry is losing out on job creation, skills training and the tool- making market.
“The market potential in toolmaking is phenomenal. In the automotive indus- try alone, we are spending $1.5-billion overseas on toolmaking work that could have been done in South Africa, had the industry been up to scratch,” explains MacLarty.
Increasing the number of toolmaking artisans has an exponential effect on job creation – one toolmaker creates another 28 jobs.
The challenges toolmaking companies in South Africa face are weak business practices in contract management, planning, production and project management.
Seeking expertise abroad means that companies must airfreight products back to the supplier to alter moulds and designs, as South Africa is ill-equipped with regard to the skills and up-to-date equipment of toolmaking, he states.
“The obvious route to take in the improvement of the industry is for South African toolmaking companies to partner in joint ventures with international companies,” he says.
The automotive industry will provide a platform to improve the toolmaking business and skills in the country, as the industry will soon be forced to have 72% local content in the production of cars, which emphasises the toolmaking industry’s potential for growth.
The AfriMold trade fair provides the platform to interact with international players. It focused on industrial design, computer-aided engineering, manufacture and design, mould and tool design, rapid prototyping, additive manufacture, as well as the whole spectrum of moulds, press tools and ancillary tooling.
“The specialised nature of AfriMold attracts a highly specific audience, who are mainly buyers. The expo’s visitors have made a conscious decision to buy and have set aside valuable time to attend the expo and do just that,” says MacLarty.
According to him, the transfer of knowledge and opportunities between Germany and South Africa, in respect of tooling technologies in the renewable- energy industries, took place at the fair and he adds that while South Africa has renewable-energy resources like wind and solar, with a government that promotes the development of a green economy, it has much to gain from Germany, a country that has a proven record in this arena.