After a COVID-19 induced four-year hiatus, the Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW) has announced the winners of its prestigious annual awards at a gala dinner in Fourways, Johannesburg sponsored by Lincoln Electric and Esab. The event was dedicated to recognising and celebrating remarkable achievements, innovations, and contributions within the welding and fabrication sectors, marking a significant milestone in the industry’s pursuit of excellence and sustainability.
Speaking at the event SAIW Executive Director John Tarboton unpacked the theme of the awards evening – ‘Unity Through Fusion,’ explaining that this reflected the new consolidation of the SAIW and SAIW Certification into a single entity. “We’ve taken the initiative and established distinct sub-brands and logos for the SAIW, representing our diverse service offerings: Technical Services, Education & Training, and Qualification & Certification. These logos are poised to carve out unique brand identities for our services,” he said.
Tarboton added; “Through our unwavering commitment to long-term sustainability, we’ve created a highly effective turnaround strategy at the SAIW, driven by a comprehensive strategy and integrated marketing plan. This success has been achieved amidst challenging times and two restructuring exercises and stems from a united, motivated workforce with shared values.”
The SAIW Awards Gala Dinner also served as a hub for networking and collaboration, bringing together industry professionals, leaders, and experts in one location, fostering valuable connections and potential collaborations.
A diverse range of awards was presented at the gala with the additional good news that each student recipient will receive a R60 000 bursary:
- The President’s Award for NDT Level 1 – Sunithi Barends
- The President’s Award for NDT Level 2 – Kurt Du Plooy
- The Phil Santilhano Award for best Welding Coordinator and Inspector Level 1 student – Tsiliso Litali
- The Phil Santilhano Award for best Welding Coordinator and Inspector Level 2 Student – Willem Rossouw
- The Best Welding Co-Ordinator Award – Chandri Swanepoel
- Best International Institute of Welding (IIW) Manufacturing Certification Scheme ISO 3834 Company Award – ND Engineering
- Honorary Life Membership of the SAIW – Professor Tony Paterson
- Fellow of The SAIW Award – Makakane Maroga
- SAIW Gold Medal 2023 – Columbus Stainless
Sunithi Barends, winner of the SAIW President’s Award for NDT Level 1, expressed her pride in the achievement, saying, “I am incredibly proud to win the President’s Award for NDT. This recognition will propel my career as an NDT technician, allowing me to become an NDT Level 3 and Inspection Specialist. “I am honoured and proud to have won the Presidential Prize and been chosen out of all the brilliant students. I am particularly grateful to my colleagues in my current Sasol Inspection Learnership at SAIW who have contributed so much to me winning this award.” Sunithi’s prize of a R60 000 bursary from the SAIW will cover her SAIW NDT Level 3 Basic course and UT2, and VT2 modules. “This award and recognition will increase the momentum of my career path as an inspector and NDT technician, as well as my pursuit of becoming an NDT Level Three and Inspection Specialist,” says Sunithi.
Tsiliso Litali was awarded the Phil Santilhano Memorial Award for Best Level 1 Welding Inspector and Coordinator Student Columbus. Adding to his triumph is the development of an innovative non-destructive testing (NDT) technique. In Tsiliso’s words, “This innovative approach is designed to enhance the detection and characterization of defects in welded structures, a vital element in ensuring the structural integrity of various projects.”
Tsiliso explained; “’My work has also been instrumental in minimising the risk of structural failures, a crucial aspect of overall health and safety. Additionally, the application of these technologies has the added benefit of saving both time and resources, expediting project completion to a remarkable degree.”
Chandri Swanepoel won the SAIW Best Welding Co-ordinator Award. Chandri said she has had to overcome gender biases in a traditionally male dominated sector. “This has given me a unique perspective on the significance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and reinforced my commitment to breaking barriers and empowering other women to pursue careers in male-dominated fields.”
The overall SAIW Gold Medal award was given to Columbus Stainless for their groundbreaking work in the invention and development of 3CR12 stainless steel, a proudly South African innovation that revolutionised the stainless steel industry and offers remarkable toughness and weldability, even in thick gauges.
Looking ahead, John Tarboton expressed confidence in the SAIW‘s upward trajectory and called for continued commitment and dedication from industry professionals. He extended gratitude to the dedicated volunteers who have served the industry selflessly and thanked the entire SAIW team for their unwavering commitment.