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One Eighty engineering solutions strikes while the iron is hot

Dr Janet Cotton, One Eighty Engineering Solutions Dr Janet Cotton, One Eighty Engineering Solutions

Cape Town-based One Eighty Materials Testing (Pty) Ltd’s Director, Dr Janet Cotton describes the company as “your local blacksmiths.”

A charming simplification of the high-end metallurgical and materials testing and consulting expertise that this company brings to the Cape business community. ISO 17025 SANAS accredited metallurgical and materials testing facilities create an enabling environment for fabricators in the oil and gas sector.

Weld procedures have to be qualified according to the regulatory authorities such as ABS, Lloyds, BV and DNV for example. This means that weld test coupons must have extensive mechanical and compositional tests conducted on them before the weld procedure can be passed. Further, material used in fabrication of oil and gas installation has to carry required certification. In many cases material that is available from merchants does not automatically carry this certification, and tests must then be conducted at a SANAS accredited facility.

The key to One Eighty’s success is accredited test results together with a fast turn around time. The majority of the work that comes through the company’s doors is from fabricators needing the necessary testing from accredited professionals to comply with standards required by insurance companies.

“Being local saves time,” says Cotton.

Before opening One Eighty’s testing facility in Mowbray in late 2012, all testing needed to be sent to Johannesburg, or time and equipment begged and borrowed from universities and technicons within academic timelines with academic strings attached, and academic paperwork, impossible for a ship repairer or an oil rig to understand or tolerate.

“I saw a gap in the market and I filled it.”

The uptake from the Cape business community has been huge. With a growing petrochemicals, oil and gas industry requiring local fabrication and repair, and applications across industries, including manufacturers servicing the medical (orthopeadics) industries, food and beverage and boilermakers, to name a few, Cape Town needed this type of testing facility, and One Eighty Materials Testing (Pty) Ltd have been at it, hammer and tongs.

“We have cut the turn around time on many jobs from a couple of weeks, in cases where customers had to send samples to JHB to the only other accredited facility, to days.”

For example, Chevron had a recent shut down last year, and often required a welding procedure to be qualified over a weekend to mitigate financial losses. We took on the work late on a Friday afternoon to make sure we could be relevant to local industry. Although the spotlight has always been on compliance within the metallurgical industry, Cotton stresses that companies should be batch-testing materials before they are shipped when importing, to ensure the integrity of the materials that they are buying.

“Doing the ground work before buying, especially from a new supplier, could save you the expense of a massive product recall, something that makes any manufacturer shudder. This is when most companies first realize that the materials they have used are faulty. Not only is that an expensive exercise, but you can lose a lot of credibility with your clients as well. The old adage, it takes 10 years to build a relationship and 10 minutes to destroy it”

Cotton says that the growth in the local petrochemical industry has really been astounding.

“The amount of oil rigs that come into our port for repair and maintenance has grown exponentially. We [Cape Town] were often passed up due to the high costs involved.” Although still a costly port, Cape Town, being South African, is fast establishing itself as a leader in the African continent.

“It is exciting to see the big international companies establishing themselves here, using our services and expertise. We see companies using South Africa as a springboard into the rest of Africa, mainly in the petrochemical arena, but also in other industries.”

Asked what keeps her up at night, Cotton says she that apart from the challenges faced by most entrepreneurs balancing cash flow with wanting to grow the business, she battles not to have too many irons in the fire.

“We have amazing new ceramic materials that could change the world of orthopeadics that we would love to commercialise, but a lack of resources, time and money, has kept these on the backburner so far which is extremely frustrating for an inventor. That and managing staff and client expectations keeps me busy. I try to gain my balance through my karate training, and getting out on to the ocean to do some yacht sailing as much as possible.”

One Eighty supports Ladies Yacht Racing in Cape Town, and to this end are sponsoring not only the Royal Cape Yacht Club (RCYC) Ladies Race but also a series of ladies key position races at RCYC.

“Ladies have all the skills necessary to make them the best sailors, we can multitask, think things through before tackling onerous tasks, communicate effectively and more importantly women have the mettle to go the distance in a storm. I believe ladies should be more involved in what has often been considered a ‘male only’ sport.” Cotton will be skippering One Eighty Challenger, a Fast 42 based at RCYC in the next One Eighty RCYC Ladies Race in November 2014. She will also be skippering the same boat in the RCYC Ladies Key Position Twilight Race at RCYC on the 12th March, with One Eighty as sponsors the theme for this race is “Heavy Mettle.”

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