Future proofing foundries: How ChemSystems makes sure tomorrow’s relevance starts now

Foundries have long since been considered one of society’s oldest businesses, originating from the time when man first began casting tools and weapons from metal. Hundreds of years later, foundries continue to make an important contribution to economies around the world.

Leading the way locally is ChemSystems. Currently operating within the AECI group of companies, ChemSystems celebrates 60 years of manufacturing innovation in 2018. With this kind of track record and industry success, it’s fitting that ChemSystems Managing Director Hugo Basson weighs in on just some of the opportunities ahead for foundries and how ChemSystems is working to ensure a sustainable future in this market.

“Our foundry operations have always been a well-respected part of our business. Hardworking and committed to traveling the road with our customers, it’s been trusted advisors and partners for often decades at a time. Few know better than we do the challenges faced along the way,” stated Basson.

ChemSystems Managing Director Hugo Basson

“Hence why we’re genuinely excited about where the industry finds itself at the moment. Promising changes in South Africa’s political and economic landscapes coupled with a renewed commitment to support and drive local manufacturing initiatives are setting our local foundries up for strong growth for the near future,” continued Basson.

“To take advantage of these opportunities, foundries will need to give careful attention to a few key areas of their business, areas which ChemSystems already has in hand and is working to help our customers address.”

Embrace transformation
“Parastatals and SOEs have always been key foundry markets, especially the likes of Eskom and Transnet. Satisfying process requirements includes considering these organisations’ mandate to support transformation and BBBEE. This means foundries need to be truly committed to an employment environment that provides equal opportunities for all employees – and to complying with BBBEE standards.”

“ChemSystems believes in embracing the spirit of transformation, rather than just complying with the letter of the law. By acting as a catalyst for positive and enduring change, we’ve been able to attain a coveted Level 3 BBBEE rating, boosting our customers’ compliance in the process.”

Build the right partnerships for growth
“Nurturing partnerships with technologists as well as key customers and suppliers takes vision and determination. The foundry ecosystem is a relatively small and close-knit one that depends heavily on these relationships for the sharing of skills and expertise as well as support. This needs to continue. For example, ChemSystems’ longstanding partnership with German established ASK Chemicals highlights how global partnerships can make local solutions more responsive to regional needs and challenges. Our involvement with bespoke customer projects proves that long-term and open collaboration is often the only way to address foundry challenges.”

“In 2017, ChemSystems invested R1.8m to improving testing equipment and facilities, at our Chloorkop site, with particular focus on sand testing. Further upgrades are planned for our Durban-based Umbogintwini Industrial Complex to enhance service and support to our coastal regions.”

Correct skills shortages
“The current skills pool is talented and well-respected, but it’s aging at an alarming rate. There are fewer new recruits looking to pursue a career in such a small and specialised field. One of our industry’s most pressing challenges is a critical shortage of skilled foundry experts worldwide.”

“For centuries, foundries have relied upon apprenticeships for the transfer of knowledge and skills. It still does, with many skills only learned through years of practical application in the field, working alongside experienced individuals and developing an intuitive approach to diagnostics and problem solving.”

“There’s a great deal of work ahead in terms of recruitment, retention, and mentorship in order to create a viable line of succession for the future.”

Commit to greener operations
“When it comes to the carbon footprint, most manufacturing operations start out deep in the red. Foundries are no exception. This makes it doubly important for us to work off this ‘green’ debt however possible. This is not just limited to the processes and technologies used, but also the foundry business as a whole.”

“To ensure our business operations are aligned to responsible and ethical practices, ChemSystems continually strives to improve our sustainable and environmental performance. This is done by implementing and upholding the standards set out ISO 14001 and by subscribing to the Chemical & Allied Industries’ Association (CAIA’s) Responsible Care initiative.”

“For years ChemSystems has been driving process innovation that lowers environmental impact. Ecocure Cold box technology, water-based instead of solvent-based processes, and aggressive sand reclamation projects are just some of the ways we’re making a difference.”

“Our most recent sustainability development is a R4.9 million upgrade to our storm water system, coupled with a major drive to save water and reduce water usage. Next on our renewable energy agenda is solar power with plans in place to install 7 344m² of solar panels at our Chloorkop, Gauteng manufacturing plant later this year. This will ensure the site becomes more self-sufficient and less dependent on municipal supply.”

“As manufacturers we feel it’s important to acknowledge that responsible operations should be a conscious choice and not just a PR exercise. It helps us attract the right kind of partners, customers, and employees who will share our vision for the future,” concluded Basson.

For further information contact ChemSystems’ Sales Manager Jacques Swanepoel on TEL: 011 922 1824 or visit www.chemsystems.co.za