SAIW executive director Sean Blake talks about the reorganisation and rejuvenation of SAIW – the renovation of its building, its new Governing Board and the Institute’s expansion plans – and reveals some highlights of his recent European trip.
I am pleased to report that the renovations to our City West headquarters have finally begun following a lot of deliberation and planning. The underpinning goal is to enhance customer service and the customer experience. We are developing an easily accessible customer service centre, based on a one-stop-shop model. The idea is that students, SAIW members and clients can go to the service centre on the ground floor near the entrance and all of their immediate needs can be met, as opposed to having to go from department to department within the SAIW building.
We are also strengthening the autonomy of SAIW Certification through this process. With its own area within the building, the independence and impartiality of the examination process are being secured, completely separating the awarding of qualifications and certifications from SAIW’s daily training and industry support activities.
The reorganisation brings further benefits. First, the kitchen and canteen are being modernised in terms of the preparation equipment, the flow of people being served and the general environment. We have also managed to find room for more office and classroom space – to accommodate more students and enable us to expand staffing levels. In addition, we are improving the auditorium.
I have recently returned from an exciting trip to France and Belgium, where, as the South African representative of the IAB, I attended the IIW working group meeting developing the new guidelines for the International Welding Inspection Personnel (IWIP) training and qualification programme. I am pleased to report that this work in now complete. The revised syllabus will be presented at the IIW Annual Assembly in Melbourne in July for approval by IIW members and we expect it to be implemented shortly thereafter.
The changes make the qualification much more progressive. Previously, courses were designed to be more stand-alone, so that, on progressing, a student ended up having to repeat a lot of introductory content. The courses have now all been streamlined and repetition minimised. The new guidelines also address inspector responsibilities at each level with requirements detailed for the basic, standard and comprehensive levels of welding inspection personnel.
While in France, I was invited by Areva to visit its facilities in Chalon- sur-Saône. It was an eye opener to experience welding at its best in Europe and to see a facility that is manufacturing world-class products for nuclear applications at the highest levels of quality. We all know that fabrication for the nuclear industry involves additional controls and quality requirements but it was exciting to see how this is achieved in practice. I also visited the Alstom Transport manufacturing facility, which is busy fabricating the initial bogeys for the PRASA project.
With respect to our African expansion strategy I have visited Mozambique recently and we see training and development opportunities emerging there, as well as in Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania.
On behalf of SAIW and SAIW Certification, I would like to thank the outgoing board for its services and dedication and to welcome incoming board members elected at the AGM last month. The Institute of welding is built on industry’s input and the value added through the participation of people from industry on the board. Without these people, SAIW would not be where it is today.
We continue to strive for excellence and continuous improvement in the welding industry and require sound industry direction and involvement in order to achieve these objectives.