Sassda congratulates awards recipients of 2012 Stainless Steel Awards at gala banquet dinner

Sassda congratulates all the winners, runners-up and entrants to the 2012 Stainless Steel Awards. “A particular word of congratulations to Rebcon Engineering, this year’s overall winner of the Stainless Steel Awards,” says Bill Scurr, the executive director of Sassda. Rebcon, also the winner of the innovation award, designed and manufactured the connection brackets for the façade at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

The Stainless Steel Awards were started in 1998 with the aim of recognising innovation and exceptional achievements in the stainless steel industry. They have traditionally been a bi-annual event; however with the economic recession in 2010, no awards took place. This year marks Sassda’s 7th Stainless Steel Awards. This year’s theme was “100 years of stainless steel”, in keeping with international celebrations of this milestone.

It is with the generous support of the Stainless Steel Awards’ sponsors that the event was made possible. This year the sponsors include 3M, Air Products, Afrox, Columbus Stainless, Euro Steel, Fischer, Macsteel VRN, NDE, Rimex Metals, Stalcor, the Nickel Institute and the International Chromium Development Association (ICDA).

“We believe the industry needs celebrations like the Stainless Steel Awards to recognise exceptional work,” says Bill Scurr. “Without the help of the sponsors of this event, none of this would be possible. I would like to thank the very generous contributions from all the sponsors.”

This year there were 61 entries in seven categories. The categories included: Best Stainless Steel Project; Best Stainless Steel Product; Best Stainless Steel Services; Innovation Award; Achievement Award; Student Award; and the overall Stainless Steel Award.

A group of five independent judges selected by Sassda met in the last week of August to select the best contributions. The panel was made up of metallurgist Professor Madeline du Toit, stainless steel stalwart Diego Sella, architect Tom Steer, consumerware designer Diana Carmichael and media representative Bruce Crawford. Du Toit, Sella and Steer have also participated as judges in previous years.

The judges selected the winners using a specific set of criteria that included the following: excellence; innovation; sustainability; efficiency; quality; the impact on the environment; and job creation.

The Stainless Steel Awards banquet was held on Wednesday 24 October at the Theatre on the Track in Kyalami, Johannesburg.

Innovation Category

The winner in the innovation category was Rebcon for the design and manufacture of the connection brackets for the Moses Mabhida Stadium’s façade. Velo SA was runner up, with its innovative small wine cellars and Solar PriMeg scooped a merit award for its innovative stainless steel solar heating system for the low-income market.

Overall & Innovation Award Winner: Rebcon for Moses Mabhida Stadium Facade

Overall Winner - Warren Butler (Rebcon Engineering) 

Overall Winner - Warren Butler (Rebcon Engineering)

The Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban is one of the most memorable soccer stadiums built for the World Cup. The stadium bowl façade is a uniquely designed system that embodies the visual simplicity and transparency of the iconic stadium structure.

The façade makes extensive use of stainless steel fittings and fixings, which are the primary connectors that ensure this structure stays up for years to come. The  Rebcon team designed the system, which includes grade 316 Tek screws and A4-70 bolts; it also helped with the concept development, design and testing of the unique grade 316 stainless steel ‘ball bracket’.

The façade is about 40m at its highest point and made of 20 000m2 of perforated powder coated aluminium standing-seam sheeting, which follows an extraordinary geometry defined by the external surface of the bowl structure.

Each bay of steel-box support-beams presents a warped surface of variation as the wall of cladding rakes outwards from the vertical to an angle of 28 degrees off vertical. The solidity of the primary reinforced concrete framework ends at a ‘level 6’, 17m off the podium, and hangs on to pinned steelwork columns that support the curving compression ring.

This means that above ‘level 6’, the structures are required to rock and sway in sympathy with the imposing service behaviour of the stadium arch and its suspended tensile fabric roof structure.

The façade fins make the upward transition from framework to framework apparently seamlessly.

With uniquely designed components the system accommodates the magnitude wind speeds associated with a coastal environment, varying warp geometry, and in-service rocking and swaying, which at design relates to a maximum 300mm vector shift of the compression ring over a 22m height.

From concept development to full non-linear analyses of the fin components, the design team were constantly aware of the performance complexity required of the 14 000m of extrusions.

Prototyping and testing of the injection moulded nylon ball girt brackets, with stainless steel inserts and fixing bolts, was carried out in parallel with the design development and testing of the stainless steel ball brackets that connect the fins to the stadium structure.

Precise 3D geometry definition was required to develop and shop detail the fins, of approximately 300 tons. Survey methodology was implemented to enable the stainless steel ball bracket setting out, swivel, alignment and fixing in situ, at over 2 000 different positions, using grade 316 Tek screws.

Left to right: Stewart Jennings, Linda Ness & Warren Butler (Linda Ness & Ass. and Rebcon Engineering)

The façade took 12 months to develop, design, manufacture and erect with the façade team lead by façade engineers Linda Ness Associates.

Innovation Award Runner-up: Velo Manufactures Wine Tanks for Small Cellars

Although the manufacturing sector as a whole is emitting noises that range from groans to shrieks, Velo South Africa is in the enviable position of having an order book that is increasing from one year to the next.

Velo SA is an engineering company that specialises in the manufacture of stainless steel tanks. Orders during the last year have been divided approximately equally between the winery industry and the liquid fertiliser, beverage, dairy and distillation industries, with a minority of orders going to bakeries and drinking water treatment plants.

Big local contracts have included an order for sixty-four 26 000 litre stainless steel wine tanks to a winery in the Breede River Valley, an order that was filled in two months. The tanks have double compartments for the fermentation or storage of wine: 16 000 litres at the bottom and 10 000 litres at the top.

Additional regional wine tank contracts include three 300 000 litre fully isolated stainless steel tanks with cooling jackets ordered by a cellar in Paarl in 2011 and five 230 000 litre stainless steel tanks, also fully isolated with cooling jackets, delivered to another Boland cellar in 2011.

On the export side, Velo SA has been exceptionally active, manufacturing stainless steel tanks earmarked for destinations in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Mauritius and the USA.

It is the latter market that has been responsible for one of Velo SA’s most recent manufacturing innovations. 

Velo SA has served the USA wine cellar market since 2000. Velo SA was part of the Sassda Cluster Sector at the time, but then Laurent Desfarges started developing the US market on his own. Black Ankle and Bedell were some of the first wineries that bought, and today are still buying from him.”

The market is growing year on year and Wium, the company’s Managing Director, considers Velo SA to be very fortunate to be part of this vibrant sector.

Velo SA’s role in the export supply chain is firmly manufacturing based – much to Wium’s relief. “We are fortunately not involved in the export of the tanks themselves, we only manufacture and then the exporter, Desfarges, takes over from there with regard to loading of containers, documentation, payments, offloading in the US, delivering, installation, etc.”

Not being bogged down in supply chain management allows Velo SA to focus on what it does best: manufacturing some of the most innovative wine tank designs in the world today.

Take, for example, the new square 1 000 litre storage tank. Wium expands on the advantages of the square design as opposed to the traditional design. “This is actually an old German design dating back many years and was originally designed for small wineries with space problems, because of the possibility to stack them on top of each other with a forklift, moving them around in the cellar, or taking them outside to empty. A cylindrical tank, although cheaper to make because of the design, takes up more space and cannot be transported around as easily as a square tank.”

The new tank, based on the original design, was adapted by Velo SA in consultation with Laurent Desfarges to be “acceptable and workable for the US market”.

Special care had to be taken with the design and the thicknesses of the steel used in the tanks because they had to be strong enough to be transported by means of a forklift and to withstand the weight of the other tanks once stacked on top of each other. “Some cellars stack 3 to 4 tanks on top of each other,” adds Wium.

Stainless steel is the material of choice.  “Grades 304 and 316 are very easy and forgiving stainless steels to work with. Their formability and welding abilities are better than other types of stainless steel families and give excellent corrosion resistance and hygienic properties. They are also readily available and more cost effective.”

Additional advantages of stainless steel tanks are that although they represent a hefty investment, their life span is practically limitless. In addition, they are hygienically and aesthetically superior to conventional steel tanks, and do not have to be painted or treated for leakages and rust.

Wium is highly optimistic about the future prospects of Velo SA’s wine tanks.

“The outlook for exports is good and seems to keep on growing every year. We are definitely aiming for more exports into Africa, but would like to find the right partner in this sector. I think the correct channels to market our tanks need some attention because of certain hindrances:  language problems, contacts with the right person or companies, payment negotiations, payment guarantees, shipping problems with abnormal size tanks, etc. etc. At the moment we are manufacturing tanks for Africa, but through local companies that are exporting them to different countries,” says Wium.

Innovation Award: Merit: Solar PriMeg creats top quality low cost systems

Solar PriMeg is a manufacturer of solar water heaters for both domestic and industrial applications. The company also specialises in alternative energy such as photovoltaic systems, heat pumps and pool heating. The Durban-based company has over 30 years experience in the industry and has just developed the first flat plate low-cost solar system to compete with imported systems used in low-cost housing.

“This is the first flat plate collector system developed in South Africa for low-cost system usage,” says Solar PriMeg’s Megandren Moodley. “The system has passed SABS testing and achieved accreditation within the Eskom Rebate Program.” The manufacturer offers the largest Eskom rebate for the KZN area for both industrial and domestic units. Eskom is currently considering buying the low-cost system as a bulk purchase.

Eskom also recently awarded Solar PriMeg an additional 20% on the current rebate due to the local content in the solar system. The manufacturer is being incentivised for being a local manufacturer that uses local product.

Solar PriMeg has been manufacturing solar water systems since 1993, when its founder and director, Peter Moodley, developed the current low-cost system as an alternative to imported products from the East. “As a South African company Solar PriMeg often has to compete with China on a price basis, which is difficult but we have done our best to try,” says Moodley.

The technology for Solar PriMeg’s low-cost system is based on the technology developed for its high pressure equipment. “It was important to us that low cost did not equal low quality,” says Moodley. “We therefore used the best materials to ensure the product lasts longer for the end user.”

Solar PriMeg has delivered a high Q factor on the unit. A higher Q factor means a lower rate of energy loss relative to the stored energy. Using the experience from the high pressure units, this unit was developed to achieve a targeted Q factor that would prevent an overdesign of the system. The new direct low-cost system is Solar PriMeg’s most efficient system on the Eskom Rebate Program. This is based on a ratio of Q factor/ litre.  “The ratio even out-performs some high pressure units,” says Moodley.

Solar PriMeg’s aim was to develop the best quality product for the South African market, which provided fantastic performance and was long lasting. “Low-cost solar units are the answer to households that have never had constant hot water before. Solar PriMeg wants to maintain this quality of life for as long as possible and this is why we selected stainless steel as our material of choice,” says Moodley.

During the development of this superior system, Solar PriMeg has used various materials of construction for the internal pressure vessels. Its initial material of choice was copper and subsequently enamel coated mild steel, but for the past 8 years the manufacturer has been using stainless steel.

As the market uses mild steel predominantly, which is baked to cure the enamel coating, using stainless steel is a major advantage to Solar PriMeg. Despite the large input costs, Solar PriMeg followed the international markets’ move to a stainless steel product. The fact that international players had made the move meant that the technology did exist and Solar PriMeg could save the expense of a baking furnace.

The inner tank is made of stainless steel and is three times thicker than most units on the market. The material of choice is a superior stainless steel, grade CS 444, the same material used on Solar PriMeg’s high pressure solar system. This means the system is resistant to corrosion and has a superior mechanical strength as compared with standard inner gauge material.

Solar PriMeg evoked the technical skills of the Columbus Stainless team to assist with material selection. The ferritic range was chosen to prevent stress corrosion cracking and grade CS 444 in particular to improve the quality and enable the manufacturer to increase the material thickness.

Choosing stainless steel means the product’s corrosion barrier is self generating and using grade CS 444 allows a for a thicker tank; both of which significantly increase the product’s longevity and guarantee.

SABS testing has been completed and the system is currently on the Eskom Rebate Program. It has also been highlighted that Eskom will be considering buying these low-cost systems as a bulk purchase.

The current low-cost system is a direct system suitable for non-freezing areas only. However, work is currently being done on the development of a system for freezing areas.

Solar PriMeg has learnt from these developments and is now investigating the use of stainless steel for the solar absorber and copper pipes in the solar panel, another first for South Africa.

Project Category

The 21 entries in the Project category exceeded the judges’ expectations; it was therefore decided that the category should be split into three sub-categories; one for art, one for engineering and one for architecture. Marco Cianfanelli & Steven Roger-Lund were the winners in the project: art category for their design, manufacture and installation of “The Minds Vine” Sculpture at Tokara Wine Estate. The Matrix was the runner up in the category for its design of a new light fitting for their company’s office.

Cianfanelli & Roger-Lund were also the winners of the project: architecture category, for their “Inner City, The City Within” sunscreen for Absa’s new West Tower Building. GKD Buismet was the runner up in the project: architecture category for its sun screen in woven stainless steel material of cable and rods for durability and solar protection.  

Metso ND was the winner of the project: engineering category for its ammonium sulphate crystallizer plant - Ambatovy Nickel Project – in Madagascar; the biggest ever to be built in the world. While the same company also scooped the runner up award in the category for its Sappi Ngodwana Go-Cell  digesters.

Project: Art – Winner: Cianfanelli & Roger-Lund design The Mind’s Vine


Left to Right: Stewart Jennings, winners Marco Cianfelli & Steven Roger Lund

Conceptualised in 2007, The Mind’s Vine is a creation by artist Marco Cianfanelli. It depicts four vine trees, the branches of which are adorned with words: words that talk about wine, the history of wine, the growing conditions of wine, the sensory perceptions associated with wine, and the history of the Tokara Wine Estate, where this sculpture graces the front entrance.

Steven Roger-Lund, of Argoweld, was asked to be involved in this sculpture as a result of the awesome manufacturing skills displayed during the building of The Pivot.

The Mind’s Vine sculpture is a laser-cut creation, fabricated in 4.5 and 6mm grade 304 stainless steel sheet. The contoured plates are connected via 10mm round bar pins. The sculpture stands 3.6m high and the cantilevered crown has a width of 9.4m. It weighs 2 200kg and is stabilized by a large mild steel footing, which is concreted to the ground.

The sculpture invites viewers to walk under and through the trees while contemplating the different aspects of wine and appreciating the exquisite physical contrast of the stainless steel with the blue sky on a sunny day. However, on a grey wintry day the stainless steel blends in with the pervading feeling of a winter vineyard. At night, the stainless steel creates an inviting and mysterious ambience thanks to strategically placed lights that illuminate the trees from within.

The manufacturing skill lay in the precise planning of the assembly of this piece.

Superb tig-welding created small seams and timber-like birds-eyes, which imitate real vine-stems. The precision of the laser-cutting process was a fundamental requirement in the manufacturing process.

The sculpture was manufactured in 8 parts, loaded on to a low-bed trailer, and transported to Stellenbosch by road.

The fabrication of this giant jigsaw puzzle took about three and a half weeks to complete. Installation took one and a half days and on 14 April 2012, The Mind’s Vine became a reality.

Project: Art – Runner-up: The Matrix’s light fitting

Left to Right: Stewart Jennings & Professor Albrecht Herholdt (The Matrix)

Architect company, The Matrix, designed a new light fitting for the boardroom of this urban design and architecture practice in 2011. The boardroom has an intriguing history and was at one time the sacred temple space of a Masonic Lodge.

The new light marks the space over the boardroom table in such a way that it does not interrupt views of a feature painting commissioned from artist Robert Brooks that hangs behind it. In another reference to the drama of Freemasonry, a ceremony is created of switching the light on and off. The light is made of three stainless steel semi circles, containing strip lighting, that divide into six quarter arches that are mobile.

This system is suspended from the ceiling by cables and a stainless steel rod. When the light is switched off the quarter arches are pulled up by the cables and retract towards the ceiling. When the light is switched on the arches slowly descend to form the three semi circles. As the light descends it begins to light up, subtly at first and intensifying as the arches reach their open, downward facing position. Once locked into this position the light remains at its full intensity. This ritual is reversed as the light retracts when switched off.

To achieve the synchronisation between the motion and the variable intensifying light source the manufacturer collaborated with an electrical circuitry design specialist. Consequently the nucleus of the light became a 3.5m mechanical pulley system and an electrical circuit component, all concealed in the ceiling space of the temple.

This leaves a silent and simple celebration of light and motion encased in stainless steel visible to those in the boardroom space.

Project: Architecture – Winner: Inner City, The City Within

Well-known South African artist, Marco Cianfanelli, was tasked to turn a huge sunscreen into an artwork for Absa’s new West Tower building in Marshall Street, Johannesburg. The idea was to bring the view through the 33m by 17m window on to a stainless steel canvas inside the building. Marco’s idea was to create a pixel-like picture using laser-cut holes in different sizes – about 235 000 of them.

It then became the task of Steven Roger-Lund, of Argoweld, to create a “stainless steel photograph”.

First, he had to devise a bracket system that would be fastened to the eight catwalks in front of the window. This primary bracket system would allow him to mount 706 stainless steel panels.

The brackets were fabricated in 6mm stainless steel and carry 32mm stainless steel square tubing, which the secondary bracket system uses as support.

The brief from the artist added a few more challenges: firstly, the panels came in three sizes; however, they would also be mounted at three different depths. This required a secondary bracket system that would connect the panels to each other much like a patchwork quilt.

The stainless steel panels were made in 0.7mm grade 304 stainless steel, brushed on both sides, laser-cut with the required holes, and bent into trays. The connecting brackets were cut in 1.5mm stainless steel and brackets were cut in 1.2mm stainless steel to strengthen all corners of the trays where they were bolted to each other.  About 16 000 stainless steel nuts and bolts were needed to create this 8-storey high tapestry.

From a manufacturing point of view, the project was simple. It was, however, a major challenge from a design and installation perspective. The preparation of the panels and all the brackets was simple once the design was mastered. Physically hoisting multiple panels into the air and getting all panels into their correct position required meticulous planning and discipline.

Working on a large building site proved to be the biggest obstacle of all in terms of access and as a result a job that should have taken 7 working days on site, took twice as long.

This project was completed in 2010.

Project: Architecture – Runner-up: GKD’s mesh sunscreen

GKD Buismet is the runner up in the Project: Architecture category of the Stainless Steel Awards for its manufacture of a woven stainless steel sun screen for the Sanral Head Office in the city of Tshwane.

The installation used 861m² of 316L woven stainless steel cable and rods and a GKD Omega 1520 mesh combination in different densities to create a sun screen with durability and solar characteristics.

 GKD, Gebr Kufferath AG, is one of the leading technical weaving mills in the world.  Founded in 1925, the company has systematically developed from being a supplier of basic woven wire mesh into a company that supplies mesh types that are woven of metals and plastics for technically demanding applications.

GKD has reached its size and importance not only through the use of modern technologies, but also through individual solutions to specific customer problems and conscious innovation to meet the demands of its clients.

To accomplish this, GKD maintains both national and international business relations.  Internationally, it forms part of the GKD Group with parent company GKD Gebr, Kufferath AG in Germany and subsidiaries in the USA, United Kingdom, Spain, Dubai and China.  In total the GKD Group employs more than 700 employees worldwide.

More than 150 people are employed in South Africa. At its production works in Randfontein, Gauteng, GKD has a total production area of 7 000m² and this is the second largest facility in the group, after its head quarters in Germany. Locally, GKD is able to offer a complete design and service capability with the full backing of its principals in Germany.

In the world of architecture and design, stainless steel wire woven metal made its first appearance in 1993, when Dominique Perrault accomplished his project for the French National Library using 30 000m² of GKD mesh, which resulted in the creation of the business unit CreativeWEAVE.

In South Africa this business unit has grown to incorporate all the different meshes that have been created through the exciting imagination of its clients. The various meshes are made up of stainless steel as well as aluminium.

GKD wire woven mesh unites contradictory qualities: a filigree, formable structure with massive robustness.  Variable widths, lengths, densities and wire diameters allow designers to transcend the limits of the possible and to achieve the impossible. Practically any weavable metal can be processed, but the reflectivity and corrosion-resistant durability of stainless steel makes it the dominant choice in architecture.

Reflectivity and transparency, plasticity and rhythm vary according to how the light breaks on the woven structure and the stainless steel.  Natural or accentuated lighting creates colourful highlights and moiré effects, allowing a choice between transparency and opaqueness. 

Lit from behind, stainless steel wire woven mesh is a translucent membrane; lit from the front, a solid, shiny surface.

Woven panels of up to 8m in width and practically endless lengths clad even the largest surfaces in an apparently seamless veil. Usually formed of fine cables lengthwise and monofilament rods crosswise, wire meshes are stable in the one direction and formable in the other.

 The robustness, resistance and practically unlimited service life of stainless steel meet the demands of modern intelligent facility management. This weatherproof, corrosion-resistant and fully recyclable material is easy to clean - in external installations, rainfall alone is enough.  It is non-flammable and resistant to mechanical deformation. Some material types are strong enough to be walked on and can even stand up to detonations. 

For the installation of its wire meshes, GKD provides standardised fastening methods.

GKD wire meshes have been used in façades, car parks, sunscreens, roller shutters, suspended ceilings, wall cladding, partition screens, projection screens, staircases, elevator cabins, balustrades, floor coverings and column cladding.

Project: Engineering – Winner: Metso ND’s Mega plant for Ambatovy

The 2012 Sassda Project Award for Engineering has been awarded to Metso ND Engineering, for the successful completion of a mega-project comprising the construction of an ammonium sulphate plant forming part of the Ambatovy Nickel Project.

The Ambatovy Nickel Project is located in eastern Madagascar, where ore is mined by open pit; slurried, screened and sent to the metallurgical process plant for further treatment. Nickel and cobalt are then extracted in the refinery. The ammonium sulphate plant is fed with stripped solution from the process units within the refinery, producing ammonium sulphate both for sale and reuse. The plant also recovers process water for reuse in the process plant.

Veolia Water approached Metso ND Engineering to build the ammonium sulphate plant on the strength of its modular construction techniques employed on previous projects (such as its digesters for Sappi Saiccor and  three massive autoclaves for Uranium One in Klerksdorp).

Metso ND developed a project execution plan based on pre-manufacturing the bulk of the equipment (three crystallizers, stripped solution storage, mother liquor feed storage, purging, condensing, centrifuging, drying, screening, and nickel and cobalt reduction feed preparation) in modular form at its Bay Head facilities in Durban, for shipment to Madagascar in the largest possible sections for final plant assembly.

The ammonium sulphate plant’s proximity to an existing port was an ideal opportunity to employ the modular construction approach. 

Metso ND offered Veolia fully fabricated crystallizers in their structure, which was a first for such a large plant. This provided a massive reduction in site costs and construction duration.

Metso needed to provide full mechanical design and FE analysis for all equipment, as well as information on wind speeds in excess of 280km/h, high rainfall figures and the plant’s location in an active seismic zone. All equipment had to be designed for full vacuum and also be able to accommodate a full liquid capacity with an SG of 1.45.

Early in the manufacturing process, it was decided to stagger deliveries over three predetermined dates, with a ground-up approach to the structural fabrication erection process. Final shipment had to take place before the heavy lift equipment and SPMTs left site in Madagascar, and deliveries had to be planned around specific site access constraints regarding other major equipment deliveries coming in from other suppliers. The ground-up approach entailed fabricating and shipping the lower portions of the structures before the upper structures entered fabrication, necessitating additional precautions to ensure perfect matching of all components. Structures bolted together on site had to match perfectly or Metso ND would incur huge penalties.

Three shipping deadlines had to be met: shipment of the lower structures under the crystallizers, access towers and heater and condenser structures; shipment of the three heater and condenser packages; and collection by heavy lift ship of all vessels, ducting, and the three main crystallizer units together with remaining piping and local equipment.

 A hand-picked labour force was strictly briefed not to compromise on quality and safety.

About 20 000 artisan hours and 25 000 general assistant and grinder operator hours were required to complete the project. Metso ND Engineering’s Bay Head workshop therefore increased capacity from 3 500 to 6 125 hours a month.

The fabricator faced many challenges during the project. The global recession forced the client to secure alternative project funding half way through the project, resulting in a contract cession that caused Metso ND untold financial difficulties for many months.

 Furthermore, the construction of extremely complex and heavily built structural steel components entailed many technical difficulties: the crystallizers’ high centre of gravity (28m above the structural base, with an individual footprint of only 10m x10m) necessitated a radical approach.

Then, the plant’s location in a seismic zone directly in cyclone paths demanded full strength connections for all joints: all structures were extremely heavily designed (the main beams were over 1 900mm high, made out of 30mm plate). Metso ND manufactured many of the beams and columns as these sections were unavailable elsewhere.

On resumption, Metso ND came under extreme pressure to bring production back up to speed, compounded by alternative work engaged to maintain the work force.

Nevertheless, the first two delivery deadlines were met without much incident.

However, on the final and largest delivery, harbour silting prevented the heavy lift ship from docking directly in front of Metso ND’s wharf. To avoid unplanned multi-million rand dredging costs, the three massive crystallizer structures were moved on SPMTs to the adjacent wharf where the water was deep enough. 

Metso ND’s innovative modular construction techniques dramatically reduced cost and risk exposure.

With the successful completion of the Ambatovy Nickel Project to a world-class standard and quality using locally produced material, skills and technical know-how – especially at a time when beneficiation of South Africa’s raw materials has become so critically important – Metso ND has proven that it is a formidable force in the manufacturing sector and a worthy recipient of the Best Project Award for Engineering.

Project: Engineering – Runner-up: Metso fabricates digesters for Sappi Mill

In 2011 Sappi announced that its Ngodwana Mill near Nelspruit would increase chemical cellulose production by 210 000 tons, necessitating six new digesters. Metso ND Engineering tendered for the job in July 2011 and was informed that it was the successful bidder on 24 October 2011.

The digesters needed to be fabricated from SAF 2205 duplex stainless steel. Each would weigh 58 tons and be 20.3m high and 6m in diameter.

Tight delivery dates had to be managed. The first three digesters had to be completed and delivered in 13 weeks; the next three, in 16. Procurement, logistics, manpower allocation and other factors had to be taken into account and planned for.

Inevitably, there were challenges. Third Party Inspection Authority documentation requirements delayed commencement of work from November 2011 until 27th February 2012 and the 24 week programme had to be accelerated by 11 weeks.

To avoid delay, manufacture followed a certain sequence. Fitting the digesters’ very complex internal screens in both the shell and the top hemisphere was very time consuming. The bottom circulation liquor pipe was manufactured from 300NB schedule 80 pipe and welded to the knuckle region of the bottom cone. All digester welding was 100% radiographically inspected, all nozzle welds 100% ultrasonically tested and all welds 100% dye penetrant tested.

Drawing on experience gained from manufacturing 11 digesters for the Saiccor Amakhulu project, Metso accelerated the programme by optimising production work flow, optimising plate size for drastically reduced welds, using more specialist external suppliers for CNC component cutting and forming, and allowing for the manufacture and fitting of such unknown components as new, much larger internal screens, unique external boxed chambers, and unique half-pipe external manifolds.

Metso’s two workshops coordinated efforts to get the various preformed components to its Bay Head facility on time.

Technical innovations included the large plate sections, which were 3 000 mm wide, reducing welding substantially. Other innovations were the top crown plate circumference and centre nozzle weld preparation, which were fully machined for improved nozzle location quality and accuracy. High-definition plasma cutting on internal components and laser cut components were other innovations that reduced component manufacturing duration and improved turnaround and quality.

Technical challenges included developing assembly plans for unknown entities and working on multiple components at once. Production programme challenges included unavoidable supply delays necessitating working 24/7 and continually rearranging assembly sequence as a result. 

However, despite these challenges, Metso was able to build world-class digesters.

Product Category

There were 15 entries in the popular product category this year, making selecting a winner and runner up extremely tough. However, Turnstar scooped the top accolade for its Speedstile Express access control system in stainless steel. Metric Steel Services was the runner up for its “Little Wood Stove” energy efficient wood burning smokeless cooker.

Product Category Winner: Turnstar

The Turnstar Speedstile Express is a physical access control product. The Speedstile Express comprises of two stainless steel cabinets installed parallel to each other at a distance of either 550mm, 700mm or 900mm apart. The two stainless steel cabinets create a pedestrian access lane. Each stainless steel cabinet comprises a toughened glass wing that secures the lane entrance and retracts into the cabinet to allow access. The Speedstile Express is a fully automated access control device that can be connected to any type of ticketing or access control system, be it card or fingerprint. Each glass wing is connected to a motor and optoelectronic sensors fitted inside the cabinet doors monitor the progress of the pedestrian through the lane. The optoelectronic sensors are positioned at various positions along the lane in prevent the closing of the glass wings on a pedestrian (safety) and in order to prevent unauthorised access (tampering), such as tailgating and crawling. The power supply, motor drive and PLC are all housed inside the Speedstile cabinet. The Speedstile is used in applications such as office receptions, universities, railway stations, bus stations and stadiums.

The Turnstar Speedstile Express brings together a combination of aesthetics and functionality. Physical access control products can often be quite bulky, boxy, and unappealing. However, the Speedstile Express is designed to be an attractive and inviting product while providing a high level of security.

The material of choice when it came to the manufacture of the Speedstile Express was grade 304 stainless steel, because of its aesthetic appeal, corrosion resistance, longevity and workability during fabrication and welding.

Stainless steel offers the product a high level of corrosion resistance and provides an aesthetically pleasing finish. Abrasion from pedestrians and the items that they may be carrying against a Speedstile would mean that it must be repainted, however, stainless steel is able to withstand the abrasion and reinstate the protective layer that prevents corrosion.

Stainless steel enables rapid production of the product because of the ease of rolling, welding and post fabrication polishing.

The components are expertly rolled, TIG welded and polished. Heavy duty motors are used to control the movement of the toughened glass wings.

Stainless steel provides an economical solution over time. Its durability and ease of maintenance compensate for the higher initial purchasing cost. The product ensures a minimal carbon footprint and is environmentally friendly. The motors only use energy when activated and not when idle.

The production of the Speedstile Express creates a number of jobs; from the forming of the raw material, through to the laser cutting and fabrication and finally to the on site installation. There is also a large export market for the product to the rest of Africa, the Middle East, the United Kingdom, Europe and Australasia.

Product Category Runner-up: Metric Steel Services

Metric Steel Services has developed an energy efficient wood burning cooking stove called the Little Wood Stove.

The stove is a solution for rural areas as it reduces smoke by as much as 80%, preventing indoor air pollution, something that the World Health Organization (WHO) says kills more people each year than malaria.

The stove uses 80% less wood to cook a meal compared with traditional three stone cooking, significantly helping deforestation in the rural areas as well as cutting down on time collecting wood.

The WHO says an hour collecting wood is an hour not spent in school.

The WHO, Clinton Foundation, Shell Foundation and Morgan Stanley have all supported the initiative and the stoves will be incorporated into the United Nations Framework Convention Climate Change Clean Development Mechanism.

The carbon revenue generated will allow the stoves to be distributed free of charge into the rural communities where the stoves are needed most.

The stove is made of 100% stainless steel; grade 4302B is used for the stove body and 304 for the pot itself. The estimated lifespan of a stove is 10 years due to the use of stainless steel.


Student Category

This year there were four entries in the student category. Duncan Badabili was the winner, for his creative use of structure to produce a mixed use development near Park Station, Johannesburg.  Adebiyi Isaac was the runner up for his research into the synthesis of novel premixed ratio of TiC and stellite 6.

Duncan Badabili

Duncan Badabili wins the award for best student in the 2012 Stainless Steel Awards for his Phoenix Building Completion. The project based in Johannesburg, near Park Station, called for a creative use of structure to produce a mixed use development. “The project challenges the notion of connections,” says Badabili. “I tried to connect the existing activities, such as the Gautrain, Park Station and student activities in Braamfontein.”

Badabili chose stainless steel as it is a lightweight material that offered a sense of transparency, therefore making the building approachable. Steel ramps, stairs and columns were used and the building is anchored by the use of cables. The concept behind the cables was to allow movement between the floors depending on the load applied on the floor, so a busy floor such as a retail floor would expand and contract more, therefore increasing the dynamics of the structure.

“I look forward to working with more stainless steel in the future as it is a highly challenging yet exciting material.

Isaac Adebiyi

The research proposal by Damilola Isaac Adebiyi on the “Laser Surface Alloying Of Martensitic Stainless Steel For Improved Service Performance” has led to the synthesis of a first of its kind premixed ratio of TiC and stellite 6 that significantly increased both the hardness and wear resistance of martensitic stainless steel.

This research provided information on the modification of martensitic stainless steel surface composition and the microstructure by surface alloying. It also provided a solution to the failure of martensitic stainless steel during engineering applications thereby avoiding material loss and component damage in manufacturing industries.

The research also enhanced the industrial application of the materials, processes and techniques and the application of laser technology and nanotechnology in the fabrication of a multifunctional martensitic stainless steel that can accommodate most applications.

 Thanks to his research there will be cost reductions and improved efficiencies and industrial operations.

Achievement Awards

Two former Sassda executive directors, Dave Slater and Ian Elsdon Dew, both scooped awards for the achievement category.

 Dave was a shareholder in Krugersdorp Engineering, a well known stainless steel fabrication company in the 1970’s, 1980’s and early 1990’s. He was elected Chairman of Sassda in 1986/87 and again in 1990/1991 and was appointed Executive Director in 1994. He is also the man credited with initiating the stainless steel awards in 1998.

Ian pioneered the introduction of stainless steel into the sugar industry. He was a director of Jackson Metals and was appointed the Executive Director of Sassda from 1987 to 1994. He introduced the levy system and developed an education programme for industry, universities & technikons. Ian developed a technical information department to enable companies requiring assistance with the application and fabrication of stainless steel.

Ian Elsdon Dew

Ian Elsdon-Dew was born in 1937 and although born in South Africa, by dint of circumstances was educated in England at Cranleigh. He married Rosemary in 1964 and they have 3 children. He spent most of his working life in sales, initially in the oil industry, with companies such as Mobil and Total. He then joined the stainless steel industry where he is still active after 44 years happy years.

He joined Jacksons in 1966 as sales manager for Jacksons Natal, where he was responsible for building up the Jacksons’ Natal division. He was also closely associated with the then Southern Cross Steel development programme in its earliest days and intimately involved with the application of stainless steel in industries such as sugar and anthracite coal. 

Ian and Don Maxwell (of Southern Cross Steel) pioneered the introduction of stainless steel to the sugar industry. They introduced AISI 430 plate into the sugar mills; this was the first time that 430 had been used in plate form for the sugar and coal industries anywhere in the world. 430 stainless steel plate was the forerunner of 3CR12 and provided the necessary market development for the now widely used utility ferritic stainless steel grade. At the same time Ian introduced the Vallourec grade 430 stainless steel welded tube, which was also a success.

In 1976, Ian became a director of Jacksons Holdings. He was responsible for setting up Salmac Stainless Steel Tube in 1981, when the Macdem Group took over the group. In 1983 he moved back to Jacksons as regional director responsible for the branches and in 1985 took over the position as director of capital projects and purchasing.

Ian’s main hobby was rebuilding houses – much to his family’s discomfort. The Elsdon-Dews have moved 23 times so you can understand the disruptions.

The saying goes he founded Ohlssons Brew (Ohlssons Beer) and on his visits around the country he kept a check on flavour and stocks.

Ian became the executive director of Sassda in 1986.  It was under his direction that a new levy system of funding was introduced.  He helped develop an education programme not only aimed at the industry but also at universities and technikons. Ian enlarged the technical information department, which to this day assists companies requiring information and advice with the application and fabrication of stainless steel. He also developed sectorisation; where members from the same industry can work together to their mutual advantage. 

He left Sassda in 1994 for the island of Antigua in the Caribbean to fulfill his dream of growing hydroponic vegetables but this was not to be. Ian then lived in England till 2002.

Ian and his wife Rosemary returned to South Africa in 2002 and Ian re-joined Sassda as its KZN regional representative, he retired from this position in 2009. 

Dave Slater

From an early age Dave was determined to be an engineer.  He spent hours operating a replica model steam engine and was a regular visitor at the local hobby shop where he was fascinated by the exciting assortment of engineering models, aeroplanes and trains. His hobby later became restoring a vintage Chrysler, which in 1986 he entered into an international rally commemorating 100 years of motoring.

After qualifying, Slater completed a graduate apprenticeship with the English Electric Company. In 1966 he entered the steel fabrication and pipe manufacturing industry as chief engineer of Hall Longmore and Company of Luipaardsvlei, Krugersdorp South Africa. In 1976 he joined two colleagues as a shareholder in a stainless steel fabrication company, Krugersdorp Engineering.  The company was sold to GEA Aircooled Systems in 1990.

After two stints as the chairman of Sassda in 1986/87 and 1990/1991, Dave went on to become executive director in March 1994.In this capacity his technical duties included handling a broad spectrum of stainless steel related technical queries from the industry, including failure analysis, material identification and application advice. Dave also initiated the Stainless Steel Awards programme in 1998

Dave has been associated with Sassda for more than 26 years, twice in the capacity as chairman, as well as a chairman of two of its sub-groups; the Heavy Fabricators Association, and the Pipe and Tube Manufacturers Association. 

Having retired from full-time employment in July 2002, he was retained as a consultant on a part-time basis. He has also served as a member of the Council of the South African Institute of Welding and on a number of industry development committees and councils.

Services Category

No winners were chosen this year from the services category.

Published 23/11/2012 08:49:35 Last Modified 23/11/2012 08:56:36

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