When Dries Saayman found himself ‘wandering the streets’ nearly 20 years ago after being retrenched as Foundry Manager of what was then known as Iscor Foundry in Vanderbijlpark, he was angry. He had studied hard to become a metallurgist and then worked long hours for the state-owned company and through his endeavours had been promoted to various senior positions within the Iron and Steel Corporation (Iscor). He was not angry with life but with his seniors who, in his opinion, had no vision. And he saw himself progressing further up the ladder. But with the pressure of supporting a young family Dries was soon back on his ‘feet’ and he has never looked back, as do most of us that have ever found ourselves in Dries’ position.
The 1 000kN Jinan universal tensile testing machine
Using his retrenchment package money Dries got the opportunity to purchase Vaal Metallurgical Laboratory (VML), a well-known mechanical and metallurgical testing laboratory based in Vereeniging area in the Vaal Triangle.
VML was established in 1988 by Dr Johan Fick and Professor Schalk Voster to carry out tensile and bend testing for companies operating in the area. Today VML has grown into a fully equipped laboratory offering the full spectrum of all types of mechanical and metallurgical testing. Customers are also not just restricted to this area and VML is carrying out work for clients as far afield as Zimbabwe and Port Elizabeth.
This includes tensile, impact, hardness testing, analysis of chemical compositions of iron, aluminium, nickel, and copper base alloys, macroscopic and microscopic examination, colour macro and micro photography, heat treatment trials of test pieces.
The Emco hardness tester that is able to perform Brinell, Vickers and Rockwell hardness testing
Other services that VML now offer include inter granular corrosion resistance testing, ferrite measurement, failure analyses, on site chemical analysis of ferrous materials, portable hardness testing (Vickers, Brinell and Rockwell), PMI (Positive material identification – on site and in Laboratory), fillet fractures, nick breaks, flattening tests and flaring tests. Testing according to international and national standards and customer specifications are also offered, as well as metallurgical consultation.
SANAS ISO 17025: 2017 quality systems accreditation
“Even though we have plenty of experience and know-how within the company we would not be recognised or successful if we were not industry accredited. We first obtained our ISO 9001 accreditation in 2008 and then progressed to ISO 17025:2005 in 2012, and were accredited for ISO 17025: 2017 in 2019,” explained Dries Saayman.
“To obtain the accreditation the laboratory has to fulfil the requirements of the internationally acceptable ISO/IEC 17025, which means that the laboratory meets both the technical competence and management system requirements necessary for it to consistently deliver technically valid test results and calibrations.”
VML has two Bruker Q4 Mobile mass spectrometers for onsite chemical analysis (PMI) on ferrous metals and two Bruker Titan handheld XRF analysers for PMI (positive material identification)
“This was a major achievement for the company and the staff. SANAS (South African National Accreditation System) is the only national body responsible for carrying out accreditations in respect of conformity assessment. The management system requirements in ISO/IEC 17025:2017 meet the principles of ISO 9001 Quality Management System (an Atlas Copco certification) and covers testing performed using standard methods, non-standard methods, and laboratory-developed methods.”
“The laboratory is presently accredited for 15 test methods that cover the spectrum of mechanical and chemical tests required by industry.”
Setting us apart: 1 000kN Jinan universal tensile testing machine
“In the laboratory there we have a 500kN Avery universal tensile testing machine that has been in operation since the company started. In 2009 we added a 300kN SANS universal tensile testing machine. But what has set us apart is our most recent purchase – a 1 000kN Jinan universal tensile testing machine.”
Inhouse sample preparation is performed as per specifications. The main equipment used for sample preparation includes eight band saws, a lathe, three milling machines, two surface grinders and an under-water cut-off machine for sample preparation
“We are the only privately owned commercial testing laboratory that performs welding procedure qualifications in South Africa to have this capacity in terms of the diameter of rebar, rods and wires that can be tested. This machine is capable of doing tensile testing up to 40mm diameter rebar. To compare, our 500kN Avery machine can only test up to 32mm diameter.”
“Materials testing is a very important aspect of safety and material strength and can mean the success or failure of a product. This is particularly important in structural engineering where the calculations must be accurate for building solid and safe constructions. Alternatively, the aerospace industry also demands rigorous measurement for metallic components used in aeronautical engineering. Therefore, having a standard in place that adds confidence to the process, is essential.”
“Besides the 1 000kN Jinan universal tensile testing machine, over the years we have purchased various new equipment to carry out the required tests. This includes a Bruker Q4 for chemical analysis of iron and steel and alloys, copper and its alloys, aluminium and its alloys and many other metals and alloys. This should interest most foundries that don’t have these capabilities.”
“More recently we have added an Emco hardness tester and other Brinell, Vickers and Rockwell hardness testing machines.”
“All tests are supplied with the required test certificates and we keep records for at least 10 years as is required.”
A Bruker Q4 TASMAN mass spectrometer is used to do chemical analyses on iron, copper and aluminium base materials in the laboratory
“Inhouse sample preparation is performed as per specifications. The main equipment used for sample preparation includes eight band saws, a lathe, three milling machines, two surface grinders and an under-water cut-off machine for sample preparation.”
Mobile equipment for on-site testing
“A growing division of the business is on-site testing. At the moment we have two Bruker Q4 Mobile mass spectrometers for onsite chemical analysis of ferrous metals and two Bruker Titan handheld XRF analysers for PMI (positive material identification), a Telebrineller portable hardness tester for onsite Brinell hardness testing and a Proseq Equotip 3 portable hardness tester, which is able to perform onsite Brinell, Vickers and Rockwell hardness testing.”
“We have been in the same building since I acquired the company. It has taken me awhile but last year we purchased the building. Our staff complement has risen from an initial five staff to 17 and our clientele are in all types of industries – all those that need material testing and certification.”
For further details contact Dries Saayman on Tel: (016) 455 2000/1 or visit www.vml.co.za