Plastics|SA put welding skills, learnership programmes, technology and the latest welding equipment in the spotlight at its third Thermoplastics Welding Technology Day that took place at its head office in Midrand recently.
Interested students, industry members, journalists and technical trainers attended presentations that focused on the importance of thermoplastic welding, standards, processes and conformance assessments, improving welding and reporting. The latest welding equipment and techniques were also put on display by Rothenberger, Plastiweld, Horner, Astore Keymak, Marley Pipe Systems and Plasti-Tech, who were on hand to answer questions and to demonstrate the latest development in thermoplastic welding, such as the digital recording of the welding parameters by the welding machines.
Explaining the importance of exposing students and the industry to the opportunities and developments within the Thermoplastics welding industry, Isaya Ntuli, Plastics|SA’s Regional Training Manager, says: “The future looks bright for qualified thermoplastic welders in South Africa. With Thermoplastic welding now a preferred method of joining HDPE or PVC pipes used in mining, municipalities, construction and various other fields where plastic pipe applications are used, these welders are able to find work in many different industries and their skills are in high demand”.
Plastics|SA trained more than 400 welders in Gauteng alone during their last financial year, and continues to see an increase in enrolments for their Thermoplastic Fabrication learning programme each year. Learners are attracted from various fabricators and contractors, with news of the programmes often spread through word-of-mouth, articles in the media or interest generated through the company’s website. A Matric qualification is not required, nor is a proficiency to read or write in English as assessments can be conducted verbally.
The training itself covers different processes, including butt welding, electrofusion, hot air, socket, solvent and geomembrane. 50 % of the learning content is practical work, which requires the learners to perform the actual welds. One such practical welding skill that is being taught and which helps set learners apart from other welders, is bends fabrication. “This is definitely a welding skill that is growing in demand, because a learner that can fabricate the bends, can work in a workshop and in the fields. We address the fabrication skills through our NQF Level 3 and NQF Level 4 offerings of Thermoplastics Fabrication,” Isaya says.
Plastics|SA’s learning programmes are Merseta accredited, which requires that learning content be developed to satisfy qualification outcomes. To this end, regular interaction and meetings take place with industry role players, such as the Installation and Fabrication Plastics Pipe Association (IFPA) and fabricators.
“We also involve IFPA members in the development of our learning material, including any new offerings such as our recently introduced Welding Inspector course, to ensure that we produce learners who are in step with the latest developments and who are able to meet the industry needs and expectations,” Isaya explains.
The introduction of a welder identification system a few years ago has helped to greatly improve the industry by ensuring consistent high quality of welding and introducing transparency and accountability. A unique welder number is allocated to each welder to assist with traceability. In addition, Plastics|SA has also recently upgraded to digital certificates with QR Codes that allow quicker verification onsite through a free QR Reader app which can be downloaded on a smartphone and which already exists on an iPhone. “This allows contractors to verify welders’ certificates onsite without having to call us, and helps to ensure a well-controlled learner management system,” Isaya concluded.
For more information about Plastics|SA’s Training Division and their learning programmes, visit www.plasticsinfo.co.za/training
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