Sealing and jointing materials manufacturer and trader Novus Sealing South Africa, an authorised distributor of international industrial sealing product, gasket and packing firm FDS Group, launched the South African arm of the UK-based Academy of Joint Integrity in May.
This forms part of an initiative by FDS Group to improve the skills of the South African sealing industry.
Novus Sealing technical director Louis Saaiman tells Engineering News the training academy was established to raise awareness of the importance of joint integrity and flange management processes in the local sealing industry, as well as to provide best practice industry training in the assembly and tightening of bolted flange connections by appren- tices and maintenance teams.
“The skills demand is high and is being driven by safety requirements and legislation. This is in response to the high risks that unskilled workers face, such as exposure to fires, explosions or incidents during which dangerous substances are released, which often result in the loss of life,” he states.
Feedback from the industry has highlighted the need for skills development in this particular field, as industrial sites that manufacture, process or store dangerous chemicals and substances can be hazardous for workers and the environment.
Saaiman notes that, since the launch of the training academy, there has been strong demand from the sectors which use bolted flange connections, such as the petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and process industries.
The training courses are hosted locally by Novus Sealing South Africa at its branches in Brakpan, Sasolburg and Lydenburg, or on site at the client’s premises, as well as inter- nationally by FDS Group.
While conscious of maintaining training-course quality, global student numbers are expected to total about 1 500 a year within the FDS group of companies, while, in South Africa, student numbers for June indicate that 60 students have applied for and are awaiting verification, says Saaiman.
He adds that the local academy can accommodate 20 students a day.
Courses are intended for assemblers, designers, supervisors, inspectors, maintenance staff and instructors in all industries that use bolted flange connections.
The training courses are accredited by the UK-based professional body, the Energy Insti- tute, and by training organisation the Engineer- ing Construction Industry Training Board.
The courses are also approved in accordance with the ASME-PCC-1-2010 guidelines for pressure boundary bolted flange joint assembly.
Meanwhile, local training will be customised to suit individual customer requirements and reviewed customer-specific site standards.
International standards and best practice will be adapted to suit specific South African requirements.
The academy currently offers courses in the assembly and hand torque of bolted flange connection and bolted joint assembly principles, in accordance with ASME-PCC-1-2010.
Saaiman notes the duration of the courses varies between half a day and two days, depend- ing on individual site requirements. On completion of a course, students are awarded Energy Institute-accredited course attendance certificates.
“The academy aims to ensure that the skills of the bolting technician are at a level similar to that of a coded welder, who is required to demonstrate a certain level of skill to work on site,” he says.