Family ethos still high on the agenda at High Duty Castings

“There might have been changes in some of the shareholders recently but as one of the original shareholders I am still very much involved in the day-to-day operations of High Duty Castings and have been since the company was established in 1991,” said Fred Venter.

“Sadly my original partner Ronnie Pienaar passed away in 2016 but we had already put in a succession plan. My son Bradley who joined the company in 2003 and Ronnie’s son Rudi, who joined the company in 2007, were made Directors of the company in 2014. At the same time we formed a partnership with our equity partners South African Enterprise Development who still remain as shareholders today.”

“A recent development in the company has been augmented by Rudi making a decision to take on a new challenge and go and start a life in Canada. Bradley and I have come to an agreement with Rudi to purchase his shares and the company remains as a privately owned family run business as it has always been.”

High Duty Castings manufactures castings for the pumps and valves industry, gearbox manufacturers, the compressor and hydraulics industries, as well as the agricultural, bearing and railway industries

“Rudi is highly qualified in the law field and will be a great loss to the company. We are confident that he will be very successful and an asset to Canada and thank him for his contribution to the success of High Duty Castings and High Duty Automotive.”

Fred Venter’s career in the foundry industry started in the 1960s when he began studying metallurgy. After completing his four-year diploma he then spent time with the Dorbyl Group’s foundry division with a major period at Salcast. Through various negotiations Fred Venter and partner Ronnie Pienaar got the opportunity in 1991 to take ownership of a well-established foundry in the Boksburg East, Gauteng area. Greenhorn Foundry had been in business since 1961 manufacturing smaller size castings. Venter and Pienaar changed the name of the company to High Duty Castings and also focused on expanding the business to include larger size castings for the pumps and valves industry, gearbox manufacturers, the compressor and hydraulics industries, as well as the agricultural, bearing and railway industries.

Interestingly High Duty Castings still operates from the facility that the original foundry that the partners acquired had been set up on. Although, as Venter put it, it is not recognisable from those days with many alterations and additions having taken place. This trend in the foundry is due to be continued with an additional 300m² being added to the floor moulding area this year and extra melting capacity to be added.

A new furnace body was also installed when High Duty Castings installed a Inductotherm 850 kW solid state power supply with a 2 MT capacity coreless melting furnace and the auxiliary equipment used in the melting of iron in September 2017

Another fact that Venter is proud of is the products manufactured from the early days – valves, pumps, agricultural products and railway blocks – still form the company’s core business and 40% of the company’s customer base have been doing business with the company since its inception in 1991.

Individual castings manufactured in the High Duty Castings division range from one kilogram up to 1.5 ton. The chemically bonded sand foundry side, which includes a sand reclamation plant that was installed by Lauds Foundry Equipment two years ago, produces castings to a maximum weight of 1 500 kilograms, while the green sand moulding foundry side produces castings to a maximum weight of 250 kilogram.

The High Duty Castings division operates five days per week while the automotive division operates on a 24 hour six days a week with sufficient melting capacity from three 2 ton capacity and one 500 kg capacity induction melting furnaces.

With its focus on manufacturing iron castings, High Duty Castings has some 6 000 patterns in store, of which approximately 2 000 patterns are currently live. The company does have its own pattern shop and patterns are manufactured and refurbished to client specification, but it is not in the business of designing.

Great care is taken by High Duty Castings when installing new equipment. This is especially the case with its power supply equipment for melting. The equipment is housed in in virtually an atmospheric controlled area

“We are a foundry and we leave all aspects of casting design to the experts. We might not be creative on that side but in the rest of the foundry operations we are very resourceful and there are many examples in the foundry where we have figured out a better way to do things, manufactured the equipment or components ourselves and then incorporated them into our production process,” said Fred Venter.

High Duty Automotive
This statement could not be truer than when you are taken on a tour of this division. High Duty Automotive was established in 2001 and focuses on the manufacture of automotive castings in both grey and ductile iron. The success of this division has been as a result of Fred’s innovative thinking in coming up with production methods and processes that will not be found in any other foundry.

“We are not about to give our secrets away but in a nutshell we are able to manufacture castings that require less machining and labour intensive operations such as fettling, and are well within the required client tolerances and specifications and require very little material to be removed once cast. As a result these castings are not bashed around for a long periods in the shot blasting machine.”

Directors Fred and Brad Venter

“We have designed and manufactured our own stack moulding line that allows us to increase the throughput of castings. If you calculate the reduction in casting and machining time, less material used and less intensive labour and other operations required, it all adds up to huge savings for our clients in both time and money. And when you are delivering 100 tons of castings with an average weight of 2.5 kilograms per casting you are saving huge amounts of rands and cents for them. We are also achieving a scrap rate of around one per cent on these castings. This proves that we are doing something right in our quality department.”

“I would like to say that we are manufacturing a near net shape casting, as they claim in the investment casting industry, but we are not quite there.”

Safety critical components
“This division primarily casts safety critical components for the automotive industry. We are blessed in that we have seen tremendous growth over the years but it comes as a result of innovation and strict quality procedures. We have been accredited with the industry standard – ISO/TS16949 or IATF 16949:2016 as it is now known – since inception of this division.”

Magnesium preparation of the SG/ductile iron is always a spectacular show

“More importantly we continue to invest in our manufacturing equipment to increase quality and save on production time. In September 2017 we installed an Inductotherm 850 kW solid state power supply with a 2 MT capacity coreless melting furnace and the auxiliary equipment used in the melting of iron.”

“The power system used to supply and control the energy for melting combines the most recent engineering technology. The basic VIP® design, which for years has proven to be so dependable, has been further enhanced with the ability to withstand melt load and power line fluctuations, while continuing to operate without costly interruptions.”

“The new VIP® control system supplied here regulates the melting signals by using a single control board. It has a revolutionary over-voltage protection circuit, an alternating current solid state circuit protection, and employs high capacity semiconductors for regulating the furnace coil frequency.”

Lauds Foundry Equipment supplied all of the rotary core blowing equipment with the latest two installed in 2014. High Duty Automotive are now able to produce 10 000 cores in a 24-hour period, if required

“The Melt-Manager® control system is able to perform a full range of diagnostic checks on itself, the VIP® power supply and the melting furnace each time the VIP® is started. These tests will detect problems before full power is applied to protect the equipment from damage. In addition, the Melt-Manager® will continue to monitor the operation of the system throughout the full melting cycle.”

“Provision has been made for the installation of a second Inductotherm furnace for future expansion.”

“Lauds Foundry Equipment has also supplied all our rotary core blowing equipment with the latest two installed in 2014. We are now able to produce 10 000 cores in a 24-hour period, if required.”

“We are very upbeat about the future of the foundry industry and confident in our increased investments into High Duty Castings. We see growth in the automotive industry both locally and internationally. We don’t export directly but we know that approximately 60% of the components that we supply to our clients are exported once machined. That is millions of cars in Europe and the rest of the world fitted with our castings. But at the same we have seen very pleasant growth in the High Duty Castings division and we are looking forward to growing this division even further.”

For further details contact High Duty Castings on TEL: 914 1346 or visit