How the manufacturing industry can adapt and thrive amid challenges including rolling Eskom blackouts
South Africa’s manufacturing industry has been dealt many knocks over the years, with continuous load shedding by power supplier Eskom, ranking among the worst contributors to this industry’s woes. Manufacturing once again lost momentum last month as the latest bout of load shedding and the extension of the lockdown restrictions weighed on production.
The seasonally adjusted Absa Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), released earlier in February, edged up slightly to 50.9 index points in January, from 50.3 in December. Sentiment in South Africa’s manufacturing industry fell to the lowest level in more than a decade in February as the prospect of continued power cuts and concern about the global economy weighed on confidence.
South Africa has developed an established, diversified manufacturing base that has shown its resilience and potential to compete in the global economy. However, software specialists, IoT Solutions says it is more critical than ever for the manufacturing sector to adapt to digital solutions to make it more efficient and competitive. CEO, Charl Ueckermann, says in light of the importance of a well-functioning manufacturing industry for the sake of South Africa’s economy, they have devised a digital solution.
‘Our initiative goes further than just a maintenance management system as we knew the market required a software solution that can integrate into any manufacturing environment, and use existing hardware and software. Our solution offers a visual management system to instantly highlight detected problems, either through visual interfaces in the workplace or via mobile applications,’ he explains.
Ueckermann says their team visits manufacturing plants for a thorough assessment, which can take between 2-3 days, depending on the plant’s size, at no initial cost to the potential client. He says their solution enables manufacturers to become more effective in terms of productivity and cost.
‘Our solution offers our customers a robust management tool that enables them to effectively and successfully manage their manufacturing maintenance and quality environments. The system improves daily with the main focus of offering our customers a system that is: reliable, with robust adaptability, 100% accurate, industry flexible, performance guaranteed, and visually measurable. Many of our clients are witnessing significantly increased productivity levels while saving money at the same time because they are working smarter, not harder,’ he says.
This includes ensuring that there are enough resources available at any given time at a plant and that these resources are trained. Ueckermann says now is the time to adapt and thrive.
‘One of our clients used to have about four days of work in progress, but when we implemented our solution, which included UpTimeCmms, they could cut those four days down to half a day’s work, saving them millions of Rands. Any manufacturer would like to decrease their working capital, and by using our solution, they can see immediate results.’
He says in the South African context, no manufacturing plant can go without a solution that does not consider local challenges, such as load shedding or water shortages.
‘We look at incorporating risk mitigation, which is specifically focussed on warning the customer in case of service interruptions to deal with instances of blackouts or a lack of basic services such as water, which is critical for the manufacturing industry. We assist clients in preparing for planned and unplanned interruptions.’
IoT Solutions offers digital programmes for companies in Logistics, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Consumable Electronics and other industries. A custom-made solution for a manufacturing plant ranges from R12 000 per month and can take manufacturers from traditional processes into the 21st century, allowing them to function optimally, while saving costs.