09 March, 2023

Yolandi Botha unpacks Bright Bar’s innovation for safety critical applications

“Bright bar is an intermediate product. A hot-rolled black bar, obtained from a producer mill, is converted with a drawing or peeling process, into a bright steel bar, used for a variety of specialist applications that require a strong, reliable steel solution.” This according to Yolandi Botha, Senior Sales Manager at Macsteel Bright Bar in Meyerton.

Macsteel Bright Bar – the business unit – serves as a value-adding intermediary between the steel producer and engineering and manufacturing companies. The raw material is supplied from the mill, covered in mill scale with a shape that is more oval than round, and a straightness of around 4mm in every 1 000mm. The conversion process removes the mill scale on the outer layer and sizes the bar to almost perfectly round. It improves the straightness to a total run of 1mm in every 1 000mm, and enhances the mechanical properties of the material.

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“Bright bar is supplied to our customers according to specific tolerances and requires minimal customer machining,” says Botha. “Bright bar is mostly used in applications where the size tolerance is critical, for example conveyor roller shafts have a very tight tolerance of only 0.02mm, which is finer than a strand of human hair.”

The four major industries that they operate in includes mining, automotive, bolt and nut and general engineering. There are numerous applications for bright bar, including mining roof support systems, hydraulic shafts, hydraulic couplings, vehicle headrest frames, shock absorbers, pulleys, alternator shafts, torsion bars, axles, conveyor rollers, conveyor pulleys, threaded rod, foundation bolts, fastener systems, locking systems and heavy-duty drills, just to name but a few.

The business unit is optimistic about the future. With government spearheading a transition to drive the use of locally produced products, there is a lot of room for growth. Bright Bar serves local niche industries, where growth is inevitable, such as the alternative energy sector.

“Macsteel’s footprint in South Africa, also enables us to sell bright bar through the “matrix” branches as we call them,” says Botha and explains that the bright bar offering is also actively being promoted through Macsteel Express stores.

Many of the specific industries, require adherence to specific quality and safety requirements. Bright Bar is ready to supply in that demand: “We installed the magnetic particle inspection and ultrasonic testing line, to increase our testing capabilities, with the localisation of some wind turbine projects in mind,” explains Yolandi.

It is now one of only two such lines in South Africa. The Bright Bar crack-detection limit was at 32mm diameter maximum for automotive customers, but with this new inspection line, they can conduct testing on sizes up to 70mm.

This positions them as the provider of a full turnkey solution as they can perform non-destructive testing, in the supply of products, in sectors that are governed by international standards. One such market is the automotive market in which stringent safety requirements must be met, where Bright Bar are already supplying components used in the manufacture of shock absorbers.

We are expecting consistent demand in this market, for the next 5-10 years, with the expected increase in alternative energy sources such as wind turbines. So they expect new installations, as well as maintenance, going forward.

“We believe that we are the leaders in the bright bar industry, when it comes to innovation and specialisation, says Botha. “We position ourselves as the specialist consultant that provides sound technical and expert advice, when customers are seeking solutions for complex applications. We have a great team of highly skilled people and professionals that are all committed to partner with our customers, to find the best possible solutions for various applications in any industry. I believe the future is bright.”

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