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06/07/2011

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dieter BöhmeThe Association of Thermal Sprayers (GTS e.V.) and its members – Who needs whom?

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dieter Böhme, Member of the GTS advisory board



The answer to this question is, of course, very simple and clear-cut: GTS needs its members otherwise it would have no right to exist, and its members need the institution GTS from whom they expect those activities which benefit their technical operations in the field of thermal spraying.

The GTS Statutes not only define the purpose and tasks of the association, but also the rights and obligations of its members. Accordingly, members must pay their fees and allocated costs, which primarily finance the work GTS does, as punctually as possible. It also goes without saying that they must comply with the statutes and the statutory decisions taken by the association’s decision-making bodies. A key requirement of its members is that they apply for GTS certification within 6 months of attaining membership. Potential GTS members are businesses with their own production, service companies (coating businesses or job shops), organizations carrying out research and development for industry or in universities and other research institutes.


            „… GTS needs its members,
                                and its members need the institution GTS …”

When GTS was founded, what were its fundamental objectives originally? Of overriding importance on the one hand was certainly the promotion of thermal spraying. On the other hand, the basic idea behind founding GTS in 1992 was to offer future members something special within the framework of a harmonized set of European rules and regulations which could be utilized as a competitive advantage both on the national as well as international market. And it should be beneficial to small and large spray companies alike.

This “special something” is certification in accordance with rules and regulations compiled by GTS itself. After being audited successfully by SLV Munich, the certificate is issued by GTS Head Office – having examined all the relevant data. For a potential customer, GTS certification, incorporating the process inspection and the very significant proof that qualified and appropriately examined thermal spray specialists and thermal sprayers are available, verifies the defined high quality standard of the thermal spray business. It is the guarantee for the high-quality coating products the certified GTS member supplies.


„The GTS certification is the guarantee for the high-quality
coating products the certified GTS member supplies”

Training and examination of spray personnel is aligned with the respective European qualification guidelines of EWF (European Federation for Welding, Joining and Cutting). To assist in the training and examination of spray personnel, GTS has created and made available the special software program GTSExam, which can also be used as learning matter for general purposes. Passing the examination, especially for thermal sprayers, confirms their technical proficiency and skills; it instils pride and clearly influences their commitment and quality awareness in the workplace.

A helpful instrument for product-related advertising is the coating and product certification offered to GTS members. Selected properties which the manufacturer considers to be of particular importance can be inspected and documented by an independent neutral authority and then highlighted as a competitive advantage. Due to the manner in which the examination is conducted, any know-how transfer is rendered impossible; here, the Quality Committee is also involved.

Over the last few years, both of the fundamental GTS objectives referred to above have generated an incredibly large number of additional activities with a variety of results. These have very often led to directly implementable assistance and instructions for GTS members in their daily work. To date, the author of this article has not encountered even a fraction of the activity and productivity demonstrated by GTS in any other association. A series of further activities and their respective results will now be described, that is, services offered to GTS members. This is by no means an exhaustive list and it has not been compiled in order of importance.

Quality Committee activities include continuously revising and updating the original audit documents for GTS certification, which were essentially drawn up by SLV Munich, and monitoring the auditing of GTS members. Furthermore, the Quality Committee has compiled working documents for conducting safety analyses, an explosion protection paper for coating businesses and is currently doing the preparatory work for attaining an environmental management certificate pursuant to DIN ISO 14001 for spray companies. The committee has also produced a GTS paper on the statutory regulations for operators of thermal spray systems and jointly put together a working document with “Newcomer@GTS” on the impact of REACH on GTS member companies. In addition, guidelines for enforcing the “Safety management system OHSAS 18001 – implementation for coating businesses” are underway as well.

Primarily due to efforts by its board members, GTS has successfully entered into a number of helpful cooperation agreements with other organizations such as DVS e.V., the German Welding Society, the German Employment Agency and German Lloyd. It has also obtained accreditation by the “Strassenbahnamt Berlin” (Tram Authority) and DB AG, the German Railways. The GTS Executive Board sees itself responsible for another important task, i.e. establishing international ties in order to gain acceptance beyond Germany and to be in a position to influence the expansion and recognition of thermal spray technology.

An intensive and goal-oriented advertising strategy is also essential for increasing industrial awareness of thermal spraying. Undoubtedly a successful instrument here was the publication in numerous journals of more than 350 articles on the manufacture of high-quality products which, in their practical application, have offered solutions other coating technologies could not. These articles were authored by GTS spray companies with the support of an experienced advertising agency.

The association’s own magazine, GTS-Strahl, which for some time now has been integrated as an independent whole in the joint publication “Thermal Spray Bulletin” by DVS and GTS, addresses thermal spray issues with respect to industry, research and development, training and standardization, and provides important, stimulating and, in part, personal information about the “GTS family” as well. Besides reading the interesting technical articles, it is always fun to look for familiar faces among the many photos scattered throughout the
magazine.

Industrial fairs are another excellent means of reaching potential thermal spray users and other interested persons. GTS has constructed a very professional exhibition booth at which GTS member companies can also present themselves – depending on the exhibition facilities and type of fair. Successful appearances include those at “Welding & Cutting”, the world’s largest welding fair which takes place in Essen every four years. GTS has also been represented at the Hanover Fair, “Handwerksmesse” in Munich, the leading trade fair for crafts and design, and “Blech” in Essen, the sheet metal exhibition.

A further significant medium for distributing information are new standards and patents. Here, GTS members clearly profit from the GTS standards and patent service which regularly sends out relevant updates. For smaller companies in particular, this is a very helpful service as it is often these businesses which have difficulties procuring such information automatically and promptly. What should also be mentioned here is that GTS contributes its expertise in standards committees and DVS working groups in which standards and regulations are dealt with and/or revised. In this way, the association exerts its influence on the content and compilation of important documents for our day-to-day work.

A wealth of detailed information about GTS, e.g. papers, abridged versions of research reports and publications by GTS, upcoming events, and a whole lot more can be found on the very well laid-out GTS homepage. It is definitely worth taking a look.

Individuals who have rendered outstanding services to thermal spraying and to GTS are duly awarded the GTS Ring of Honour. In the meantime, it has been conferred 9 times and the respective winners were, without a doubt, extremely proud to be honoured in this way. The René Wasserman Award is a very specialized distinction which is conferred by Christopher Wasserman in memory of his father, the founder of Castolin. Chief criteria for deciding on a winner are the level of innovation in the GTS member company selected and its social policy towards its staff. This prize is always received by the winning company with tremendous pleasure and is seen as a very unique distinction in more ways than one. GTS also honours and motivates university graduates every two years by awarding a prize for the best thesis on the subject of thermal spraying.

For smaller and also medium-sized companies, it is virtually impossible to conduct large-scale research or even development projects. In a variety of GTS workshops, current research needs were defined and member institutes involved in the research field managed to obtain public funding for more extensive research undertakings which they then carried out. Relatively early on, GTS members then receive the interim results which may help them to develop or optimize their products or even create new products.

A significant and literally “decisive” GTS institution is the Annual General Meeting. It elects and formally approves the actions of the Executive Board. Procedures which essentially concern GTS activities require the consent of the AGM. Contrary to what one might normally expect, the AGM, which takes place in the appropriate setting at a different venue every year, is not simply a dry presentation of facts and figures. Technical reports on highly interesting topics presented by qualified aficionados and discussed by the audience are also part and parcel of the meeting. Workshops on subjects of common interest are also an integral component.


„In a comparatively short period of time, GTS e.V. has
established itself as a forceful and commercially recognized
association for thermal spraying and its members.”

To summarize, it can be said that, in a comparatively short period of time, GTS e.V. has established itself as a forceful and commercially recognized association for thermal spraying and its members. It is acknowledged both on a national and international level and is in a position to exert influence on the expansion and recognition of thermal spraying as a significant and distinctive technology. It is goal-oriented for the benefit of GTS members.

Essentially, this rapid development is the work of the GTS Executive Board supported by its Advisory Board and the many active members who have dedicated a lot of time and effort on GTS committees and in other institutions. It should be mentioned here that those involved in the Quality Committee and other active working groups are GTS members who virtually all perform their tasks on a voluntary basis for the good of all GTS members. This is the appropriate opportunity to extend a very big thank-you to all active members for their commitment and dedication.

For a coating business or for any organization concerned with thermal spraying in one form or another, can the question even present itself as to whether it makes sense or is an advantage to be or become a member of GTS, the Association of Thermal Sprayers?


This article was publishes in GTS-Strahl 24 / Thermal Spray Bulletin 2/2010 (October 2010)

Links to the topic:
GTS-Strahl / Thermal Spray Bulletin
About GTS
Personalities/Distinctions
GTS Certificates
Newcomer@GTS
Downloads with GTS papers, REACH, Agentur für Arbeit etc.
 

 

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