The Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW) holds a special place in the heart of Martin Maine, founder of materials handling wear solutions specialist Rio-Carb, after being part of the Rio Tinto South Africa stable for 13 years before a management buyout by shareholders.
Having been president of the SAIW during 1974 and 1977, Maine says the nonprofit organisation’s dedication to furthering standards in welding fabrication and related technologies made those years rich with enthusiasm and satisfaction.
“In an age of automation and incredible technology, I am still of the belief that welding is alchemy – a magical process of transformation and creation,” he notes. “It remains a passion for me, even as our company invests in technology and equipment the industry never dreamed would be a reality 30 years ago.”
With his extensive involvement in the welding aspects of most of the biggest projects in South Africa, including Sasol ll and lll, Eskom megastations, the Koeberg nuclear power station, the Gariep dam and strategic oil-storage projects, Maine has set about curating a selection of electrodes designed to provide a solution for every welding requirement in the South African mining industry.
Curating a Robust Solutions Package
Just as the vintner creates fine wines and is then able to define a collection to suit specific markets according to taste, price and pairing, Rio-Carb has taken into account everything impacting on the mining industry in particular, and developed six electrodes in a single selection of welding solutions.
“The wine lover can choose from least to most expensive, but will likely want what suits their particular occasion. We have noted the economic landscape affecting the mining industry and taken into account the varying skills levels of people who will be using welding electrodes,” Maine says.
“The Rio-Carb selection combines every consumable needed on a mine for any job that requires welding. This cuts out the unnecessary options and focuses on robust solutions at market-appropriate costs.”
From welding dissimilar metals like carbon and alloyed steel to creating the extremely hard deposit offered by tungsten carbide, and a CrC-compatible hard-facing electrode for depositing medium impact and high absorption-resistant weld metal, Maine’s carefully selected solutions are the result of extensive experience in abrasion control of heavy mining equipment using chromium carbide alloys.
Twin Passions of Welding and Learning
Again, Maine’s metallurgical background – the technique or science of working with metals to give them certain desired shapes or properties – shows the passionate alchemist at work, and it is this passion that inspires his colleagues.
Since its inception in 1982, Rio-Carb has been motivated by Maine’s enthusiasm for the process of welding and learning. Rio-Carb is compliant with broad-based black economic empowerment regulations, and Maine and his team understand that economic inclusion is not just fair practice – it is a business imperative. “We use local content wherever possible in all our products,” he says, adding that economic upliftment starts where individuals are given opportunities such as those promoted by the SAIW and Rio-Carb.
“To see individuals come to work because they love the processes and practices of the business is what likely also makes the vintner get up before dawn to check the state of his produce.
“I believe that even where our high-tech equipment performs tasks that were unimaginably difficult even ten years ago, it is the human touch and eagerness to master their craft that sets us apart as innovators and manufacturers of solutions.”
To see the opportunity for materials handling wear solutions as opportunities to create jobs, serve an industry with robust products that save time and money, and provide skills that can grow employees with dignity and pride in their work is clearly a vital part of the success Rio-Carb is enjoying today. As Maine says, it is alchemy.