Gauteng-based government implementation agency the Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC), in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) and the International Labour Office (ILO), has launched a pilot programme for the development and application of a methodology to upgrade Tier-2 – and lower-level – suppliers in the South African automotive industry.
The programme will look to strengthen the South African automotive industry, enhancing the competitiveness and sustainability of selected local industry players, namely the Auto Industrial Foundry, the Gasket Manufacturing Corporation, Prevail Engineering, African Electroplating and Feltex Fehrer.
As part of the pilot programme, the AIDC will develop an integrated approach to improve the competitiveness of lower-tier suppliers in the automotive industry, in line with the strategy of the Automotive Supply Chain Competitiveness Initiative.
The AIDC will also leverage off its own supplier development programmes to drive supply-chain development growth across the automotive industry, it said in a statement.
Over the past decade, the AIDC’s supplier and enterprise development department has worked closely with various automotive industry institutions, as well as Unido, to develop and implement the Tirisano cluster programme, which was supported by the Department of Trade and Industry.
Speaking at the project kick-off, Unido industrial development officer Robert Novak said the inception-phase programme would boost sustainability and best practice among small and medium-sized enterprise suppliers in South Africa.
“We are currently working on a one-year pilot programme and we hope to develop small, medium-sized and microenterprises into globally competitive companies.
“At the end of the pilot phase, we will then launch a fully fledged programme over the next three to four years,” he noted.
ILO chief technical adviser Jens Dyring Christensen explained that labour relations and good work practices could assist in improving productivity and global competitiveness at local automotive manufacturing plants.
“Responsible work practices and good labour management assists in raising productivity levels in local automotive manufacturing companies. This can also reduce absenteeism,” he added.
AIDC senior project manager Claude Pillay explained that the programme’s methodology result from a collaboration between the AIDC, Unido and the ILO.
“Each organisation was able to offer expertise from their own previous programmes and this contributed towards developing a methodology which can be implemented at primarily lower-tier automotive manufacturing companies.”
Pillay further noted that the organisations want to develop a final methodology, with input from the industry during the pilot phase. “We will have regular discussions with our five participating companies to shape the final programme,” he explained.
The first training session of the pilot programme is set to get under way in the first quarter of 2016.