Russians have been familiar with the Belarusian Scientific-Production Association since Soviet times when they supplied components for the famous BelAZ vehicles. Contacts were resumed seven years ago owing to the Business Co-operation Council of Belarus and St. Petersburg. It holds joint sessions annually, alternately in Minsk and St. Petersburg.
During the previous three meetings, the Board focused on the development of the science, technology and innovation sectors — a breakthrough for the Association and its innovative developments. However, to launch production, Belarusians needed partners, co-operation with whom could have facilitated a move to the next level.
“Jointly with the United Institute of Machine Building at the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences, we designed and produced equipment for plasma spraying of UHMW polyethylene,” explains the Association’s Director — Sergey Tsybukov. “It’s no secret that damage from failure of tanks and pipelines because of corrosion significantly exceeds the cost of their construction. The modern means to protect such equipment is costly and not fully effective. Owing to our proposed innovative technology with the Belarusians, the quality of anticorrosive protection of energy equipment, capacitive chemical equipment and pipelines is increased considerably, as well as their life term.”
This first step was soon followed by further developments. Mr. Tsybukov’s team bought an injection molding machine (to mold plastic products with set properties) from the Baranovichi Machine-Tool Plant’s branch: Atlant JSC. Last summer, it was introduced by the St. Petersburg Association at the Russian Industrialist show. Many did not believe that Belarus could produce equipment able to rival manufacturers from Western Europe. There were even requests to look inside to verify the construction of the machinery.
Belarus is the only post-Soviet state which produces these unique tools, important for Russia’s import-substitution programme. Heads of the Baranovichi plant have proposed that the St. Petersburg Association sign a long-term contract which envisages the opening of a demonstration site, service maintenance and establishment of a spare parts warehouse on the site of the St. Petersburg enterprise — with prospects for complete injection molding assembly. The establishment of a joint Russian-Belarusian training centre is also in view.
The first group of future operators, installers, engineers and casters have already completed their training at the centre. The training programme is planned to comprise of a two-week theoretical course and a month-long practice. New specialists will also soon be trained at this centre: among them are mechanical workers and adjusters of machines and automatic lines for the production of plastic products. These will be universal craftsmen, able to work with several professions. In the near future, this new profession could be one of the most popular in our country and perhaps set the trend further afield for the production of composite materials and related products. An example of this is the case of polymers for traffic lights and signals. Standard signals — used for many decades on railways — have a cast-iron or metal housing, weighing 13.5 tonnes with their lighting devices. They are difficult to dismantle or repair — especially taking into consideration that the equipment is situated high above the ground. Moreover, it’s also necessary to paint them regularly to combat rust, fading and to preserve them black (as required). The vibrations produced by passing trains are also an issue: it significantly shortens their life. In contrast, polymer analogues are lightweight and durable.
“The task now is to equip them with LED lamps,” Mr. Tsybukov continues. “Belarus has been engaged in the production of LED devices for a long time with good results. In this respect, the replacement of imported components in traffic lights, searchlights and signals by Belarusian analogues would appear to be a logical step. I’ve discussed it with a famous physicist, the Deputy Chairman of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus — Sergey Kilin. He appreciated the idea, promising to discuss it in detail with his Academy colleagues. We were acquainted with Mr. Kilin at the anniversary celebration of the academician, Zhores Alferov.”
It is already clear, without detailed costings and planning, that the use of multi-polymer LED devices is virtually unlimited. They can work well in transport (railroads, ships, automobiles), the petrochemical complex, and helicopter building.
Mr. Tsybukov has another interesting proposal able to bring Russian-Belarusian co-operation to a new level. This deals with the establishment of a joint innovative distribution cluster using Belarus-made equipment, molds and including parts from the Ural Region and design, testing and manufacturing from the NorthWestern Region of Russia.