Diversified industrial corporation United Heavy Industries (UHI) plans to establish a metallurgical laboratory at its plant in Mandeni, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, as part of its efforts to take the study of properties of metal beyond theory.
This will also greatly assist in helping students of metallurgy access a purpose-built laboratory closer to major cities. UHI points out that most metallurgical laboratories are located near mines, placing students of metallurgy in cities at a great disadvantage.
UHI technical head Samit Chakraborty says there is need for a metallurgical laboratory close to the large industrial and commercial areas of Durban and Richards Bay to benefit students, as well as the metals processing industry that seeks testing services.
The metallurgical laboratory at UHI will enable mechanical and chemical working tests to be made on ores and furnace materials.
The laboratory will have the “latest state-of-the-art technology and equipment”, the company states. This will include an induction furnace, vacuum degasser, refining furnace, various casting facilities, a three-dimensional metal printer and a hybrid cast printer.
He adds that the laboratory facility will be made available to university students specialising in the pyrometallurgy and metallurgical sciences for research purposes and special projects.
Top students from universities will be afforded the opportunity to complete their internship at the UHI facility or at other UHI partner facilities.
UHI human resources head Yogita Juneja says the metallurgical laboratory will serve as an incubation point for students from neighbouring universities to improve their technical skills. “We will offer internships at the UHI facility, which will prepare students for employment with practical experience, making them valuable assets for future employers.”
Since 2003, UHI has been strategically aligned with Mecon India, a parastatal that specialises in engineering and turnkey projects for the government of India as well as several industrial corporations in India and globally.
Chakraborty says the continuous alliance with Mecon not only helped to prepare various teams of engineers within UHI for delivery of key infrastructure projects and manufacturing units in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa but will also be a platform for ongoing knowledge transfer and skills development in South Africa.
Meanwhile, UHI says it is also in the process of setting up an electric arc furnace production plant in Mandeni.
The new integrated steel plant will include multiple primary melting units, secondary refining units for the niched steel segment, continuous casting machines and high-tech rolling mills.
Products from the plant will be sold to countries in Africa, Europe and South East Asia, as well as to India.