On August 4, 2017 at Lincoln Electric SA’s Weld Tech Centre in Midrand, the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) held an event to send off South Africa’s welding champion to the 2017 World Skills International Competition. African Fusion reports.

Philipus Terblanche welding boothHaving won gold in Durban earlier this year at the World Skills South Africa (WSSA) contest, Philippus Terblanche will put his skills against the world’s best welders in the 2017 World Skills International event in Abu Dhabi from October 14 to 19.

Etienne Nell, South Africa’s National Expert for World Skills Welding, who has played a central role in the organisation and running of the SAIW Young Welder of the Year – now the SAIW Youth Challenge and the precursor to the WSSA competition – believes that Terblanche’s chances of medalling for South Africa are good. “During the finals of the SAIW Youth Challenge last year, the top three welders were separated by only 1.7 points out of the 100. That’s competitive,” he says.

Since then, the runner up in the SAIW Youth Challenge and the bronze medallist in the WSSA Welding competition, Samukelo Mbambani, has gone on to win a gold medal in the Student category at the International Arc Cup Welding Competition in Shanghai. Over to you, Philippus!

Following Philippus’ SAIW Youth Challenge win last year, Nell describes how he went to visit him and the Terblanche family to discuss preparations for the national WSSA and World Skills contests. When Nell suggested a training and supervision programme, Philippus asked “Why? I have already won. My welding is obviously good.”

“No! Not good enough,” said Nell.

Reflecting on the incident, Philippus says that, although he was surprised and annoyed, Etienne was 100% right. “When I look back at the welding I did back then compared to what I can produce now, I know that my welding wasn’t that good when this process started,” he admits.

Supported by CHIETA, SAIW, DoE, ArcelorMittal and Lincoln Electric, Philippus Terblanche has been on an intensive welder training programme in preparation for the World Skills contest. Lincoln Electric, which is the global partner of the World Skills Welding event, has set up a welding booth at its Weld Tech Centre in Midrand that is identical to the one Philippus will have to use in Abu Dhabi.

Through Benoit Lamotte, Josef Henning and Thulani Mngomezulu from Lincoln Electric SA, Philippus has become very familiar with the Lincoln Power Wave multi-process welding machine he will be using. “Lincoln has top range welding equipment that makes it easier to weld, once you know how to set the machines up and what they can do. And thanks to guys from Lincoln for teaching me how to get the best out of this machine,” he says.

Through an additional CHIETA sponsorship, Philippus has been allocated a personal welding trainer, Eduan Terblanche, for the push towards a medal. Terblanche runs a welding consultancy called Onsite Projects, which has a special focus on welder skills training. He is particularly renowned for his aluminium welding expertise, but his skills encompass the full set of welding processes, materials and positions.

Philippus’ chances? “This morning, when Etienne Nell saw some of his most recent welding, he said that if he welds like that in the competition, he will finish in the top three – and Etienne should know, he has been involved in this com- petition for over 10 years,” Terblanche tells African Fusion.

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