Nonprofit technical organisation the Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW) and research organisation the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will see the organisations collaborate on new technology and data sharing.
This will develop the role of welding in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and boost the contribution of this scarce skill to rebuilding the South African economy, says SAIW executive director John Tarboton.
“As the world is propelled forward by technological innovation, the agreement is designed to scope the current and future landscape of our sector and use technology pilot projects to educate, support and ultimately advance welding for the future.”
The MoU aims to merge CSIR development work within the 4IR technology sphere with the welding expertise and reach of the SAIW. The collaboration will see the SAIW feed its wealth of welding-related knowledge and data into CSIR technologies to drive ongoing improvements, he says.
Data is the new gold standard, and one of the projects that could form part of this new collaboration is the development of a specially designed application that will use 4IR technology to scan welds and provide useful feedback to students and fabricators in terms of their quality and areas of improvement, says Tarboton.
“We see our MoU with the CSIR as the start of a process of pinpointing knowledge and innovation touch-points that will provide an opportunity for broader industrial skills development as well as showcase technology-based training techniques already developed and in use, such as the SAIW’s current robotic welding facilitation,” he says.
“We are currently spearheading our new robotic welding course, which will start in April. [It] has been specially designed to equip students with the necessary skills to manage all aspects of a robotic welding operation by giving them the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge of this particular welding technology.
“The course offers a broader career path for students by serving as a stepping stone to more advanced robotic welder training through its technology partners and is an example of SAIW's innovation,” Tarboton says.
“Working with training institutions such as the SAIW, we aim to introduce 4IR technologies in a simple yet inclusive manner, and clearly illustrate the scope of innovation and growth in a range of manufacturing and fabrication sectors in which welding plays such a crucial role,” says CSIR Future Production: Manufacturing acting cluster executive manager Dr Ajith Gopal.
“We are currently establishing a learning factory platform at the CSIR that is designed to expose attendees to 4IR technologies and learnings that will open their minds to the potential of these technologies in their fields of study or places of work. The MoU will allow SAIW students to visit the learning factory and experience these 4IR technologies first-hand,” he adds.