The value of additive technology for Angola’s industry TEY_post_Giulio-SERRA25.3.24

We are trying to consolidate ourselves and become a constant and essential partner for the various companies that operate in Angola.


The value of additive technology for Angola’s industry

March 26, 2024

Giulio Serra, managing partner of Indústria Comércio e Serviços (ICOS), talks to The Energy Year about the potential applications of additive technology in Angola. ICOS provides 360-degree services and solutions for oil hydraulics and pneumatics and develops technical design, calculation and metalworking for production sectors such as industrial, agricultural, mining and oil and gas.

What are some potential applications of additive technology in Angola?
Additive technology is an area we have been focusing on for years. We have developed a dedicated sector and acquired considerable experience. With 3D printers, we design, size and create a vast range of components and unique pieces in various types of PLA [polylactic acid resin] that are not available or no longer in production for the industrial sector, mills, cement plants, etc.
Additive technology is vast, and during 2024, we will add very important innovations, different additive technology solutions that will allow ICOS to act on metals and chrome plating. We will probably be the first in this sector, as we were for 3D.
The key question we asked ourselves was, can we effectively restore materials that have deteriorated? Thanks to the latest generation of additive technology, we can restore some metals and alloys to their original state and sometimes even improve their characteristics.
This means reducing imports of structures, spare parts, etc.; eliminating damage caused by wear, rust and damage from chemical agents or otherwise; reusing what already exists; giving life back to damaged products.
The reduction of machine downtime is the most significant advantage that exists in terms of costs, as well as the reduction of imports and the difficulties linked to them. In recent years, ICOS has constantly tried to introduce innovative elements to offer unique solutions. In 2023 we focused on gaining experience internally regarding a metal recovery technology, and in 2024 we will be ready to use the metal recovery technology starting with our core business: pistons, hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders, gears, rods, etc.
This additive recovery system not only restores but also improves resistance to the elements. They were not designed with such durability in mind 20 years ago. During renovation, we can incorporate new components into existing metal structures thanks to the supersonic speed used by the additive system.

How has demand for your 3D component manufacturing evolved?
Working with 3D technology represents a great challenge. Throughout the world 3D printing is typically used to conceptualise an idea or create a prototype. Our goal is to use this technology to produce unique parts that would otherwise not be available for various reasons, such as lack of stock, discontinued production of a given piece and pieces without product codes.
The market seems to appreciate our ability to reproduce what cannot be found. We have diversified our production capabilities using different 3D printers to better respond to the characteristics of the raw materials.
Our ambition is to extend our 3D printer technology to metal, potentially by 2025, which is a very ambitious and expensive goal, but we believe in it. Believing has always been our strength.
Some international geopolitical situations, first epidemics and now wars, do not facilitate stability, and consequently, the increasing costs of raw materials make planning both private and public investments increasingly difficult. Development needs stability, research and training.


How important is investment in training when introducing new technology?
An investment of this type mainly concerns training. Money buys many material things, but it does not buy knowledge. We highlight the significant local workforce of ICOS. We currently employ approximately 110 workers, and the vast majority of our workforce, approximately 96%, are local staff. In addition to our specialised workforce, 15% of our staff are young engineers and senior technicians, and we are committed to investing in their training and specialisation.
Over the next two years, we envision ICOS as a company that develops strong research, great training on new technologies and increasingly personalised and integrated solutions.

What is the potential for ICOS to expand its operations internationally?
ICOS is a local content company operating in Angola. Our goal is to maximise engagement and development with the local market. We aim to strengthen our presence and collaborate with various oil companies and institutions such as the ANPG [National Agency for Oil, Gas and Biofuels], which plays a significant role in supporting Angolan companies.
Becoming a regional player is an ambitious step that requires substantial investment and effort. We are still working to consolidate our current position although regional expansion is an aspiration of ours. If our growth allows, we could aim to achieve this perhaps sooner than expected.
For now we are trying to consolidate ourselves and become a constant and essential partner for the various companies that operate in Angola and are looking for solutions. In the local market, many products, even semi-finished ones, are imported. The need for adjustments to projects is a constant, and we can be a solution.

What are ICOS’s plans for 2024?
From the first months of 2024, we will add CNC [computer numerical control], laser cutting and a calender to produce cones and satisfy increasingly specific requests in the oil and gas sector, but not only.
We will receive the additive technology I mentioned by March. Therefore, we will focus on training in the use of the new machinery and on the quality necessary to be at the top in our line of work. With a growing market presence in the oil and gas sector and the beginning of a period of development in the primary sectors, there is growing demand for our services.
In 2022 we were contacted for several Agogo-type projects, and with Petromar we did an excellent job. In 2023 we continued the collaboration with them and received proposals from various companies to undertake new projects. Our ability to quickly and efficiently respond to customer needs and meet specific requirements plays a crucial role in these collaborations.
To meet this new demand, we are investing not only in the necessary equipment but also in production and work processes in general. We are doing everything necessary to obtain the company’s ISO 9001 certification, which we hope we will have in the first half of 2024.
This important step will give ICOS a different status and an added value that is increasingly requested by international companies from their partners.

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