Around the world, welders are becoming scarce. Globally, manufacturers of machines and consumables strive to build intelligence into their welding machines thereby making it easier for the welder. Traditionally, gas and welding companies used information as a tool to captivate customers thereby improving their pricing potential. Unique Welding Alloys took a bold new direction and endeavour to provide the welder with the required knowledge and information to become more productive and produce quality welds. To Unique Welding (UWA), the welding industry and the success of a welding company is about the people. Welder safety is also critically important given that welding fumes are now classified as carcinogenic by the British health and safety authorities.
This is where UWA steps in as a fully-integrated gas and welding solutions provider. We start off by providing the absolute best value-for-money welding equipment and consumables. We work with our key suppliers, developing welding technology and machinery specifically suited to our South African environment. Every machine sold is backed up by our experienced technicians, who assist our clients with installation, training and post-sales service. But we don’t stop there. Our next step is to provide a seamless Human-Machine Interface (HMI) – a concept developed by our CEO, Mr Nazmi Adams, based on his previous experience as Global Marketing Director for the largest international welding supplier. Simply put – HMI is the process of allowing the machine and the user to understand each other.
At the core of our HMI philosophy is information that we are not afraid to share. A simple example is the addition of an information sticker on the wire feeder door of our new range of Apollo MIG machines. This sticker is equipped with information including gas selection charts according to steel type, spare parts details and consumables lists. Our incoming Zeus Plasma range is equipped with dials guiding the user on what current, air pressure and steel thickness should be used to get the optimal cut. The more informed our users are, the better their experience with our products.
The final step in our integrated offering is our intense focus on Safety. South Africa had one of the highest safety standards on gas and welding and it is essential that we maintain that reputation. This adherence to standards has declined over the last decade primarily due to the reduced policing of the SABS, and allowing large-scale imports of low quality and non-compliant gas equipment by distributors. Most such imported products claim to meet standards such as ISO 2503:1998 when the products clearly do not meet the standard as laid out by SANS 10238.
In order to obtain the ISO 2503 compliance, a regulator must have passed the Oxygen Ignition tests which are only performed by two European companies – namely BAM and Apragas as well as selected accredited American institutions. Instead of importing regulators that falsely claim to meet these standards, UWA chooses to partner with companies like Victor, to provide our customers with 100% certified EDGE Regulators which are among the most advanced in the world. The Edge regulator is designed for harsh working conditions such as the mines and has patented fall protection technology. Customers should request a supplier who claims compliance to EN2503 to produce the relevant Ignition test certificates.
Another significant development in the welding industry, is the recent change in enforcement expectations for mild steel welding fume. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, there is new scientific evidence proving that exposure to welding fumes can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer. Stemming from this research, the Workplace Health Expert Committee has endorsed the reclassification of mild steel welding fume as a human carcinogen.
This development may have ramifications for the South African industry as employers are obliged to mitigate all known health and safety risks. UWA has embarked on a media campaign to highlight these developments and better serve its customers.
There are two ways of preventing the inhalation of dangerous fumes. The first and most costly of these methods is to install sophisticated fume extractor systems throughout the workshop. The second, and more cost-effective method, is simply to equip welders with a quality Powered Air Purifying Respiratory System.
The Thermamax TruFlow PAPR System purifies the surrounding air and delivers clean, breathable air for up to 9 uninterrupted hours. The system is equipped with an 8-speed flow-controlled respirator and a 4-cell Li-Ion battery pack. It is a lightweight system that straps onto the welder comfortably, and is armed with a triple-alarm system to notify the user of any dangers or blockages.
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At the forefront of this PAPR technology is the use of advanced air filters. Many people are unaware that they need to use different filters according to the different metals that are being welded. This is because different metals emit different fumes – and using the incorrect filter renders the PAPR system ineffective. Stainless steel, for example, lets off an extremely hazardous gas called Chromium VI, which is one of the primary fumes associated with the recent cancer findings. When welding Stainless Steel, a Particulate filter must be used. This is the type of information that UWA takes very seriously, and relays to our client base.
Our British designed, Thermamax TruFlow PAPR System is currently being used by some of the most safety-conscious corporations in South Africa, with great success.
The bottom line is this: We are the authority on safety in the welding industry. We do not put our customers at risk. For us, it’s all about trust, experience and reliability.