South Africa’s product manufacturers need to invest more in automating and computerising their products and systems to stay abreast of global competition, says local solar water heating specialist SunTank.
The company announced in April that it had completed the implementation of a fully automated robotic welding system, the SunTank robot, which has been designed to weld an entire range of solar tanks with minimal human intervention.
SunTank MD Yoram Gur-Arie tells Engineer-ing News that this investment aims to increase production while reducing the exposure of humans to dangerous working conditions.
“Our machinery is a result of thousands of hours of design, trial and error, redesign, train-ing, evaluating and improving. It was a never-ending cycle that only long-distance runners should contemplate.”
Gur-Arie adds that, during the 20 years of its existence, SunTank has learned that continual improvements of manufacturing systems and processes have assisted in positioning the company at the forefront of the solar water heating industry in Southern Africa.
He highlights that when SunTank started to import and install its products for the Southern African market in 1999, the company started focusing more on developing its own products, adding that “it became clear that, to offer suitable and competitive products, we would need to design and manufacture the products ourselves to ensure the highest possible quality”.
“And it wasn’t easy – the process of taking a garage operation and turning it into a modern production facility was a long-distance race. The structure of the industry in South Africa and elsewhere in the world is quite difficult to enter for new companies and makes heavy investments in capital equipment a risky matter.
“For that purpose, we have had to pace the process of introducing robots and other automation very carefully to ensure that we don’t have too much spare capacity when the industry is going through a down cycle,” Gur-Arie