Everybody talks about the skills and technology gap but what are you doing about it?
“It’s all about collaborating and pulling our industry together into a team to grow faster than single entities would be able to do by themselves.” That comment from Gideon Potgieter, Group Senior Manager: Business Development seems to capture the overall sentiment of the newly formed Resolution Circle.
“The creation of Resolution Circle will help with accelerating ideas and product to market. We believe that technology advances like those being explored by the Resolution Circle will continue to improve the capabilities of our nation’s manufacturing base, which is a critical growth engine for our country.”
“Additionally the strength of manufacturing’s future is dependent on the ability of all levels, including those of the educational structure, to respond to the needs of industry and develop and maintain a skilled workforce. We are dedicated to advancing that process, as well as showing what we can do for companies’ products and how the various technologies will transform certain aspects of manufacturing.”
The laser installed at Resolution Circle is a Trumpf TruLaser 1030 fiber laser. The machine was installed by Retecon Machine Tools
In the bending department there is a Heli 125 ton 3 metre press brake and a Heli 6mm by 3200mm guillotine
“There is a gap in knowledge relative to exactly what these technologies can do. This is where the Resolution Circle will play a critical role – connecting the capabilities of the technologies with the needs of industry and helping to transfer knowledge.”
“To transform manufacturing education to better prepare today’s and tomorrow’s practitioners to meet the accelerated technical and business advancements of the 21st Century will drive South Africa forward.”
The Resolution Circle is a University of Johannesburg (UJ) initiative headed by Professor Willem Clarke who is spearheading the multi-million rand project to marry technological innovation with industry and business, and is partly funded by the National Skills Fund. It operates as an independent, commercial company, through commercial partnerships and projects.
Resolution Circle is a uniquely horizontally integrated ecosystem that specialises in developing innovations in support of the commercialisation process, including both IT and non-IT solutions, is a hub for incubation of small businesses, is a service provider to industry, offers product and process development and is an integrated training, research and development ecosystem to deliver innovative technology.
It is a model that Professor Willem Clarke believes could prove effective for driving innovation and job creation across numerous sectors in South Africa, in line with the government’s drive to promote innovative job creation projects and a knowledge economy. It also supports the government’s call for more emphasis on science, technology and innovation.
Students being trained on the Flow mach 2031b waterjet
Two Euromac machines have been installed by CML Machine Tools. The first machine, a Euromac MBX 1250/30-2250mm, is an autoindex CNC punching machine that uses the Euromac multitool system, and the second machine is a Euromac Digibend 400 bending machine with a 40 ton force
The educational concept was born out of the reality that many engineering students lack practical experience, and large numbers of students battle to find placements where they can complete the one-year practical training component of their diploma courses.
Resolution Circle was started in 2012 and has since grown to a company with more than 100 employees. Through its partnerships with industry, it has successfully developed many products in the market and filed various patents.
The Resolution Circle is housed in two facilities. The first of these is at the 7500m² Resolution Circle Towers that is situated in the Milpark area of Johannesburg, Gauteng. This facility includes The Incubator, which is specifically targeted towards early stage technology start-ups that need to design, prototype and to commercialise any form of technology, the R&D Lab rental service setup and the extensive training and events facilities, which allow Resolution Circle to host various events and offer professional training. This hospitality arm also hosts conferences and meetings.
The second facility, which is situated in a building alongside the UJ Doornfontein campus, is a 3500m² dedicated training workshop run by experienced artisans from industry as supervisors, and boasts a number of high-tech equipment for metal forming and shaping, plastic injection moulding and metrology and quality inspection. This facility also includes PC board and electrical wiring training and carpentry manufacturing equipment.
The Resolution Circle have also installed a Victor Vcentre-102E CNC vertical machining centre
Just installed is a Nikon Altera 7.5.5 coordinate measuring machine, supplied by WD Hearn Machine Tools
The Resolution Circle’s operating processes are designed for doing business, not primarily for education, although this is an important component. The entity is fully involved in product development, from the generation of intellectual property, to prototyping development, sourcing or co-funding of development and the formation of start-ups and joint ventures.
As its contribution to a joint venture, Resolution Circle will provide admin support, office space, legal support, patenting and commercialisation services, HR support and tax registration and compliance, in addition to the research and development support and access to facilities.
In short, if you do not have the capability or services of one or more of the following: 3D printing, machine vision, robotics and industrial automation, EMI testing, industrial electronics, energy efficiency and management, design and simulation infrastructure, composite materials, including fiberglass and carbon fiber, product reliability testing, non-destructive and material testing, a chemical process and microbiology lab, textile processing and software development, including commercial image processing, app development and testing, then the Resolution Circle is able to assist you.
This includes cutting, machining, plastic production, fabrication, carpentry and quality control.
Intern development programme
“As we struggle to find skilled workers to fill positions in manufacturing facilities across the country, there are those among us working hard to interest young people in what manufacturing and technology have to offer,” said Johnny Pretorius, Manager: Skills Training at the Resolution Circle.
“Resolution Circle offers an Engineering Intern Programme. During the one-year programme, interns develop 17 different skills areas that are divided into four groups, i.e. vocational skills, professional development, professional life, and technical work.”
Retecon Machine Tools have also installed an AgieCharmilles CUT 20 P. In the background is the Chevallier FSG-1632ADIII•1640ADIII high-precision 3-axes automatic surface grinder
5-axis machining is done on the DMG MORI DMU 50 ecoline, supplied by Retecon Machine Tools
“This is offered as an outsourced service for companies that are required to take on interns but do not have the necessary facilities or resources. This programme qualifies for BBBEE Skills Development.”
“Our intern programme provides new engineering graduates or Work Integrated Learning diploma students with work experience and skills to get them workplace ready.”
“In addition to two years of theory, the National Diploma also requires that students complete one year of practical training, divided into two parts. Through our Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programme, Resolution Circle offers mechanical, electrical and electronic technology students the opportunity to complete their Practical 1 and Practical 2 courses.”
“Resolution Circle’s WIL programme has been structured to strict logbook requirements, not only to satisfy the practical requirements set by the various training institutions, but also to give student’s exposure to real-world situations. This is accomplished through a comprehensive range of hands-on, practical training exercises and actual deliverables. All of this is done in a high-tech environment (state-of-the-art equipment) and under the supervision of professionals recruited from industry.”
“Currently we have the capability to train 300 students every year. Once a student has completed the year of practical training, he or she is available to enter the market place.”
“Industry needs to reach out and offer manufacturing opportunities for these young people. They are our future.”
On the turning side there is a DMG MORI SEIKI CTX 310 ecoline
Included in the sheetmetal department is a Durma MRB-S 2006 three roll bending machine
“For South Africa to compete globally, it is essential to train the workforce in skills and technology. One way to combat the cheaper imports is to keep jobs here by doing them more cost-effectively, and the only way you are going to do that is if you have a trained workforce.”
Small-scale manufacturing – prototyping and small manufacturing runs
Resolution Circle’s small scale manufacturing centre hosts unique one-stop idea-to-barcode facilities. It provides companies and individuals with the opportunity to develop prototypes and manufacturing small runs thereof for quick turnover. The state-of- the-art high tech equipment along with 100+ dedicated industry professionals, allows for an effective and efficient use of the equipment in managing different materials in different formats.
“It is important to emphasise here that the Resolution Circle has not been set up to compete with industry but rather to assist and stimulate. We have identified this gap and it is already taking traction with industry. Currently we have some interesting projects we are working on and one in particular is about to reach maturity. This particular product is being tested in the US market and, if it is given the go-ahead, by June this year the local developer will be exporting a few variations of the products to 68 outlets in the US,” explained Gideon Potgieter.
Resolution Circle’s cutting facility is a 900m² workshop equipped with laser, water jet, turret punch press and plasma cutter machines. These machines can cut at different tolerances and thicknesses a wide range of materials including mild steel, stainless steel, glass, stone, plastic, carbon fiber, aluminium, titanium and composites.
Cutting, punching and bending equipment
The laser installed is a Trumpf TruLaser 1030 fiber laser with a bed size of 3000 by 1500mm and can cut mild steel up to 16mm, stainless steel up to 8mm, aluminium up to 6mm, copper up to 3mm and brass up to 3mm.
The water jet installed is a Flow mach 2031b that has a work envelope of 2000mm by 3100mm.
Two Euromac machines have been installed by CML Machine Tools. The first machine, a Euromac MBX 1250/30-2250mm, is an autoindex CNC punching machine that uses the Euromac multitool system, and the second machine is a Euromac Digibend 400 bending machine with a 40 ton force.
Other machines installed in this department are a Heli 125 ton 3 metre press brake, a Heli 6mm by 3200mm guillotine and a plasma cutter.
Included in the sheetmetal department is a Durma MRB-S 2006 three roll bending machine.
The machining centre is equipped with modern high speed, precision and flexible machines required for tight-tolerances and includes 5-axis milling. Most of the equipment is housed in an environmental controlled room to achieve the required tolerances when manufacturing moulds for plastic production (injection and blow), for example.
There are a number of Pinacho turret mills
Conventional lathe turning is done on Pinacho machines
These include a DMG MORI DMU 50 ecoline, a 5-axis CNC universal milling and drilling machine designed for high precision and reliability in workshop, training and laboratory settings, as well as for tool, fixture and mould construction applications. The DMU 50 ecoline features an NC swivel rotary table for 5-sided machining of parts ranging from simple to complex.
On the turning side there is a DMG MORI SEIKI CTX 310 ecoline, which features a fast servo turret and 30 m/min rapid traverse, bar capacity of 51mm and a turning diameter of 200mm.
The Resolution Circle have also installed a Victor Vcentre-102E CNC vertical machining centre with XYZ travels of 1020 x 600 x 560mm, table size 1100 x 510mm, BT-40 tooling, 11/15kW spindle motor, 8000RPM and a 750 kg load.
Retecon Machine Tools have also installed an AgieCharmilles CUT 20 P, an EDM wire cut unit that handles wire diameters from 0.15 to 0.30mm, has Integrated Collision Protection (ICP) on the XYZ-axes, travels on the XYZ axis 350 x 250 x 254mm and can accommodate maximum workpiece dimensions of 900mm L x 680mm W x 250mm H.
Another machine installed is a Chevallier FSG-1632ADIII•1640ADIII high-precision 3-axes automatic surface grinder.
“We are very well equipped in our fabrication and machining departments. Additionally we have pipe bending and welding services, and a 3 Axis CNC milling machine for extruded aluminium fabrication,” continued Gideon Potgieter.
“With all these capabilities we are able to manage steel in different formats namely solid, plate, pipe and profiled.”
“Our plastic production facility is equipped with a 90 ton machine capable of moulding by injection or blow. This is ideal for companies in need of speciality parts and/or to produce small runs to test the market.”
Resolution Circle’s CAD-station consists of 10 high- performance CAD workstation computers, especially equipped with features to accommodate the requirements of advanced resource-hungry software.
The Resolution Circle has designed and developed a stainless steel wood turning handle that will soon be exported to the US, for a South African client
“Our composite materials technology station’s primary function is to manufacture composite products from hybrid materials such as fiber glass and carbon fiber. These products can vary in size and shape and are accurately manufactured using our CNC machining and CAD design technology.”
Quality control and finishing
“Additionally we offer in-house quality control services for client focused precision measurements. In this area we have just installed a Nikon Altera 7.5.5 coordinate measuring machine, supplied by WD Hearn Machine Tools, that features a ceramic bridge and quill for structural and thermal stability, and is designed to provide superior accuracy across a wide range of metrology applications. Probing support is extended with the Renishaw REVO 5-axis scanning technology to improve CMM productivity for complex tactile inspection applications.”
“Our finishing product facility allows us to deliver final products that have been spray-painted or powder coated.”
“Although Resolution Circle has been operating since 2012 this facility in Doornfontein has taken some time to get together. The building where we are housed was not in a very good condition when we moved in and we had to carry out an extensive amount of renovation before it became inhabitable.”
“It started to look like a manufacturing environment just over a year ago when the first of our machines started to arrive. We are now geared, between both facilities, to offer industry in South Africa something meaningful.”
For further details contact Resolution Circle on TEL: 010 020 3300 (Towers facility) and 079 022 8286 (Perskor Building Doornfontein facility) or visit www.resolutioncircle.co.za