Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has also set aside about R320 million over the next three years to provide technological support for industry.
A Casting Simulation Network (CSN) centre at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) in Sebokeng was launched in July 2015. The centre seeks to equip local foundries, including small and medium enterprises, with simulation software and skills through links with institutions countrywide.
The simulation software allows for the reduction of preproduction costs, sampling waste, energy use and time during the casting manufacturing process.
The initiative is aimed at helping to improve the competitiveness of the South African foundry sector, one of the pillars of a competitive manufacturing sector, by supporting it in the use of the high-end technology required to optimise foundry processes and tooling.
The facility is a partnership between the Department of Science and Technology’s Technology Localisation Implementation Unit (hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research), VUT, Durban University of Technology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Stellenbosch University, the University of Johannesburg and software and implementation partners Ametex, who are the resellers of Magma products in South Africa.
In 2011 the Department of Science and Technology supported a programme to assist the foundry sector with Technology Assistance Packages. Through a process of benchmarking and technology capability evaluations, as well as the use of international and local subject matter experts, a variety of gaps were identified that contributed to the low level of competitiveness of the South African foundry sector. One of the major technological gaps identified was the lack of simulation software.
A pilot programme was used to determine the benefits of using simulation techniques within the foundry sector, which were substantial. Through a process of industry engagements, the Technology Localisation Implementation Unit (TLIU), hosted by the CSIR on behalf of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), identified the need for a national casting simulation network and funded it through a Sector-Wide Technology Assistance Package. This provides foundries, including SMMEs, with access to simulation software and skills.
R320 million set aside for Technology Assistance Packages
The centre was opened by the DST’s Minister Pandor. In her speech she said that the Department would invest R320 million over the next three years to provide technology support to companies through benchmarking and customised Technology Assistance Packages.
The Minister said the initiative would enhance South African companies’ capabilities to access contracts, create more jobs and contribute to economic growth and knowledge-based activities, which are critical imperatives for the country.
No further details were given on where and when the money will be allocated for this technology support. The optimism is that it will not be wasted on consultants.
The Minister also pointed out that the launch of the CSN was a fitting time to celebrate the outcome of a number of strategically planned activities to advance South Africa’s foundry sector.
For further details contact the DST or Ametex on TEL: 011 026 6363