The newsletter of the Institute of Inventors and Innovators
The next III Gauteng branch public meeting will be WEDNESDAY 10th October 2018, 19:00 for 19:30.
The speaker will be Tony Bryant with his “Impilo” Aeroponic growing Technology. This is another clever local innovation which has produced an amazing product with an international market. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear how Tony took it from idea to product. Perfect for novice inventors.
The Journey of inventor Hennie van Niekerk, from idea to leading international product is inspirational. Hennie with his wife Alta, who is also in the business, presented his “Ultra Lock” story at our August public meeting. They have great admiration for iii and its founder Don Pilkington without whom he would not have got started.
Whilst working as a structural draftsman for Spoornet, he started tinkering in his garage, as all inventors inevitably do in their spare time and out of curiosity. He had a love for light steel fabrication. So he turned his hand to the manufacture of security products for general households and complexes, like burglar bars and security gates for the neighborhood, going by word of mouth. This and a vision he had at church one Sunday by looking out the window and across the road at steel gates gave him an idea to start his own company. The only locks one could get for a steel gate in those early days in 1988 was a wooden door mortice lock or a costly brass padlock. He had to make steel housings for the mortice locks which led him to make a simpler lighter more convenient locking device that would fit into the same housing. This is where his ingenuity played a role; he designed a new ‘intentional’ lock built within his housing. An intentional lock is not a slam-lock; it is one where you push the bolt in, thus securing it into the door frame. He incorporated an inexpensive “Tricircle” padlock into a new design of lock that he built integral with his existing housing. Via the iii this design was patented in 1990, it cleverly used the padlock and key in a novel way, as a latching mechanism for his own purpose made, high security steel bolt inside his casing. Eureka!, the Ultra Lock was born. Now he had a cost effective security lock, contained in his steel housing which any steel fabricator could easily weld into security gates so they can’t be compromised by vandals and robbers. Hennie had to fight off cheap imported Chinese knock offs but they failed, he has a secret in producing his lock. He also he partnered with the Chinese pad lock firm Tricircle well known here in SA. He gets all his locks from them and vice versa has given them intellectual knowledge and property in exchange for benefits. Coming up with new concepts some of which components inside the steel casing are newly patented.
Hennie and co. did not stop there and have developed a strong lock for shipping containers that require three pins to be unlocked in order to open them. They are opened in a particular sequence and the combination code needs to be emailed to the receiver. The Ultra “E” Lock is now also developed; Worlds First Intentional locking device where you have to press a button to lock which has a solid steel pin inside.
30 years on, Ultra Fab is now a big business employing 75 personnel in 6 companies under one roof. To be internationally competitive they have CNC computerized machines and robotic machines, and write their own software. This enabled high accuracy and material efficiencies. For example, if they save 5mm on a piece of aluminum inside the lock casing this can relate to the saving of 120meters of this metal per month. Other machines include 500kw laser welding and cutting accurate up to .2mm, with all electronic movement and having a capacity of 25mm aluminium and 40mm mild steel. He now manufactures a range of steel gate components, security accessories and other fabrications. Their son joined the business and concentrates on the manufacturing and product electronics. Hennie also helped David Bloy develop his ”DABOLT”. See Eureka! August 2018. Contact email@example.com for more info and www.iii.org.za website for a more detailed report on this meeting. Remember: our next JHB public meeting is on Wednesday 10th October 2018. See below for details.
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III – The home of inventors. A non-profit organization controlled by inventors, supporting inventors. Telephone: 011 487 1536 Address: 18 St. John Rd. Houghton. Email: email@example.com website: www.iii.org.za Supported by the Industrial Development Corporation.