Pilot Tools nears 75 year milestone

Company tools up for milestone and qualifies as an “Empowering Supplier” in terms of the new B-BBEE codes as set out by the government.

Pilot Tools, which was established in 1939, has a proud heritage spanning nearly 75 years, a milestone that will be celebrated later this year. The privately owned company, based in Denver, Gauteng and operating out of a 7 200 m² industrial park, is the only South African manufacturer of tungsten carbide metal cutting inserts and mining buttons.

“2013 was a very exciting year for us, having completed the refurbishment of our offices in Johannesburg. The refurbishments were necessary to provide more space for our growing engineering and sales teams as well as to create an environment conducive to attracting and retaining the best talent,” explained Pilot Tools spokesperson Colin Morrison.


Pilot Tools have invested heavily in modern automated equipment to manufacture their products

Product developments
During 2013 Pilot Tools extended its range of turning inserts for heavy machining, with the addition of new grades and geometries. They also extended their milling range with the release of four new milling grades:

  • 8320 for hard materials
  • 8420 for good to average conditions
  • 8430 for average to difficult conditions
  • 8440 for difficult conditions

“These new milling grades represent our premium offering and feature the latest in substrate and European coating technologies. There were also a number of enhancements to our U-Drill range,” explained Morrison.

This year promises to be equally exciting with the company launching their new multipurpose square shoulder milling solution – Multi90Mill. The Multi90Mill will be released with Pilot’s latest milling grade line-up and their new V2 premium milling cutter bodies. Initially, Multi90Mill will be available in an end mill format, but the company is also planning to add face mills to the range.


Pilot Tools regularly holds customer days for customers to get an experience of the manufacturing process first-hand

2014 will see Pilot Tools’ South African operations attain a Level 2 B-BBEE rating with 51% black ownership, 17% black woman and 29% black designated groups. Pilot Tools SA will also comply with the requirements for an “empowering supplier” in terms of the new codes released by Government in October 2013.

“Empowering supplier status is now extremely important for our customers. The new codes not only require a B-BBEE rating, but now also require suppliers to meet the criteria for empowering supplier status before their customers will be able to earn enterprise and supplier development points towards their scorecards. In essence, an empowering supplier needs to meet criteria that revolve around local manufacture and as Pilot Tools is the only South African manufacturer of tungsten carbide metal cutting inserts and mining buttons we will in all probability, be the only tooling company in South Africa to meet these additional requirements. This should make us the most empowered tooling supplier in South Africa.

B-BBEE is of course important to our customers wishing to participate in government related business and is key to the transformation of the Pilot Tools Group,” explained Morrison.


Pilot Tools is a leading manufacturer and supplier of tungsten carbide buttons for the mining industry

“We are also very proud of the success of our in-service student training program. The program focusses on providing experiential learning to students studying towards their national diploma in physical metallurgy or mechanical engineering. The program not only provides employment and on-the-job experience to current students and future graduates, but will also contribute towards Government’s goals of overall job creation and job creation for youth,” continued Morrison.

Positive outlook
Pilot Tools has a positive outlook for 2014. They remain the leading supplier in the mining sector to OEMs of tungsten carbide buttons and with their improvements and extensions to their metal cutting range they continue to make very good progress.


Sintering is an important part of the process

“Of course, on the metal cutting side, challenges remain with changing the perception of new customers, that despite our locally manufactured products costing less than the imported alternatives, our performance is equivalent or better. We have been changing these perceptions by testing and proving our products in the market. But of course, the most effective way of changing perceptions and building the Pilot brand is by word of mouth. Slowly but surely the market is realising that our tools cost less, but can perform or even out-perform the imported alternatives and this translates to substantial cost savings to our customers,” concluded Morrison.


CNC grinding of product



The toolroom at Pilot Tools is also equipped with the latest equipment available

Pilot Tools is also the importer of Vargus Tooling, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of thread turning, thread milling, gear milling and deburring tools as well as OSG tapping and drilling tools and HSS and solid carbide end mills from Sutton Tools.

For further details contact Pilot Tools Sales Call Centre on TEL: 011 607 1818