In a shop that turns out over 10 000 components in a month the pressure is always on to complete the orders and keep clients happy.
Eugene Veldtman, owner of Thomco Gas & Engineering, realises that he is very fortunate to be in the position he is today and he is determined to continue building on the success that his company has achieved.
Veldtman joined Thomco just over 20 years ago. He had previously been working in a foundry and he has not looked back since joining the company.
“Thomco is a well-known name in the gas industry, started by the late Tom Cowan. Tom needed someone to take control and implement some organisation of the shopfloor and this is why he employed me.”
Eugene Veldtman, owner of Thomco Gas & Engineering
“Fortunately I had a thirst for knowledge and at every opportunity I was learning the various operations on the machines while also organising the production flow, stores and delivery schedules. I was certainly learning by trial and error and little did I know at the time how invaluable this would be for me later on.”
Thomco was founded in 1970 when the late Tom Cowan was contracted to manufacture and supply brass components for Afrox in 1970. The company started in a workshop in central Germiston, Gauteng. As the business expanded Thomco moved to a much bigger facility in Delville Business Park, Delville, Germiston where it is still situated today.
One of the main focuses throughout the history of the company has been to machine new and refurbish brass components and this still remains so to a certain extent today. The client base in the beginning revolved around the gas supply companies such as Afrox and the like, but this has diversified enormously since, as has the component and materials mix.
The most recent machine purchased by Thomco is a Hurco VM10 vertical machining centre
“We regard ourselves as both a jobbing and production shop. Machining components for the gas companies only makes up 30% of our mix. The next biggest percentage is in the security industry, which accounts for 20%.”
“We are machining 2 000 of the same component quite often but then we will do much smaller runs of larger components in iron, steel, plastic or aluminium.”
“With the mix of machines that we have we are quite versatile and flexible.”
Thomco purchased its first CNC machine in 2002 and it took another three years before the company purchased its second CNC.
“At the time it was a big decision in Tom’s life and the company’s history. The shop was used to running CAM type automatics, which we still make use of today for certain production runs. Even though they are older they still provide effectiveness with larger runs. Tolerances are kept closely as per specifications.”
“With the CNC we all had to learn but it is ‘no brainer’ today if you are a machining shop like ours and you don’t have some on your shopfloor.”
Thomco was founded in 1970 when the late Tom Cowan was contracted to manufacture and supply brass components for Afrox in 1970
“It took three years before we purchased our second CNC – a lathe – and since then we have purchased at least one a year, with the latest one having only been installed in February. Altogether we now have four CNC lathes and two CNC milling machining centres and we are proud to say that even the first CNC machine that we purchased is still on the floor turning out quality components.”
“Our strategy in purchasing new, high-technology equipment is that it generally affords the shop higher quality, service, and training from suppliers, but also because we realise you achieve better performance and have lower maintenance requirements.”
After installing the first Hurco VM10 vertical machining centre the shop spent one day training on the machine and was running parts the next
“We also never wait until we get an order to buy machines with enhanced capability. We already have it and have developed it before we start exploring new opportunities. That’s a real advantage for us.”
The most recent machine purchased by Thomco is a Hurco VM10 vertical machining centre.
“It has a small footprint and large capacity for efficient machining and productivity. The 660 x 406 x 508 mm work envelope in a 1.8×1.7m working footprint and 10,000 rpm spindle as standard makes the VM10 very attractive for most applications.”
A little more conversation
“It is the second Hurco we have purchased. The defining feature of these machines is Hurco’s WinMax CNC control. The straightforwardness of programming is just great and the control’s ease of use as a conversational control, is another benefit. After installing the first VM10 the shop spent one day training on the machine and was running parts the next. In addition, we found the machine particularly suited to small and medium part runs, where programming flexibility is essential.”
Original owner Tom Cowan decided to retire in 2005 and as Veldtman says “he gave me my second life changing opportunity”.
“I had been with the company for 14 years so I was quite aware of how it ran. When Tom decided to retire he offered the company to a colleague and myself. We had no hesitation in taking up the offer. Sadly my partner passed away two years ago and I am now the sole owner.”
The components which Thomco machine include adaptors and nipples, bull noses/inlet stems, Harris welding items, hose tails, manifold blocks, fittings, nuts and porta pack parts and components for regulators, torches and profile machines
It was no coincidence that Thomco took delivery of its second CNC only three years after purchasing its first one. “I had seen the merits of CNC and, once we had control of the company, we purchased our second CNC and subsequently have purchased a further two lathes and two CNC milling centres.”
The components which Thomco machine include adaptors and nipples, bull noses/inlet stems, Harris welding items, hose tails, manifold blocks, fittings, nuts and porta pack parts and components for regulators, torches and profile machines.
Some more components machined by Thomco
Services that the company offers include turning, milling and drilling of components. Materials machined by the company include brass, stainless steel (303, 304) steel (EN1A, EN9, K460, tool steel, EN19), plastic (PVC, nylon, bakerlite, vesconite) and aluminium. They also offer a finishing or coating service.
Currently Thomco has eight staff members.
For further details contact Thomco on TEL: +27 (11) 827 0006 or visit www.thomcogas.co.za