Milestones must be celebrated

This issue is dominated by milestone occasions in the history of two well-known companies in the foundry industry, both playing a role in the development of the foundry industry in South Africa. One is a supplier to the industry and the other is a foundry, arguably one of the most advanced in the world.

The first is the 50th anniversary of Insimbi Alloy Supplies, originally established as Metallurg South Africa in 1970. When doing my research for compiling the story it was very interesting to see the names of people from the foundry industry, both past and present, that have either been involved with Metallurg or Insimbi, over the 50 years.

Recently retired names include Danny O’Connor, Langham Carter, Dr Keith Campbell, Ray van Rooyen, Pieter Schutte and Marie Samons. Then there are the many people who have been with Insimbi and are still very active within the company and in the foundry industry for many years. These include Ed Liechti, Colin Botha, Fred Botha, Dudley de Beer, Helen Fernandes and Len Hutton.

Of course during my research I came across those that served their ‘apprenticeship’ or ‘university degree’ with the company and have gone onto open up their own business or are still involved with companies that are linked to the foundry industry. These include Mike Retief, Russel Symons, Mark Hughes, Brendan Homann, Jacques Swanepoel and Antoinette Swanepoel. Sadly in this issue I report about the late Thomas Wiese (Page 20) who was also involved with the company.

Between the retired names and those still with Insimbi or in the industry that is many years of knowledge and experience. It was also very interesting to look at the photos from not so long ago – some have improved with age and with others it is debatable.

Atlantis Foundries celebrates 40 years since inception. Atlantis Foundries has evolved over the years, originating from Atlantis Diesel Engines (ADE), an engine machining and assembly plant that was built in the late 1970s. The brand ‘ADE’ died away, but the company was purchased by Daimler/Mercedes-Benz in 1999, and has continued to cast cylinder blocks for heavy-duty trucks ever since.

The story of Atlantis is a true success story of a ‘National Treasure’ surviving hard times to become one of the best South African manufacturers in the world, and a world-class leader in foundry innovation. In 2017 already, under the leadership of Pieter du Plessis and who is now back in charge after a couple of years of absence, Atlantis Foundries had embarked on a process that would pave the way for it to become a smart foundry and embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The corner stone of the project is the programme of automation in the foundry. The smart foundry ambitions have continued within the foundry with the aim of retrieving live data to enable immediate analysis and reaction.

The report in this magazine on this development was read extensively in Germany and it led to further development between the two countries. At the time one supplier even said he thought their company was way ahead in the game until he read the Atlantis Foundries report and realised how far they were behind.

You could almost say that this issue is one of nostalgia but it is not, in my opinion. There are all the facts that have been articulated but the reports are also a showcase of how the South African foundry industry can keep up with the rest of the world and also lead the way forward.