Engineering consultants SMC Pneumatics South Africa has changed its name to SMC Corporation ZA, which reflects the growing range of non-pneumatic components being developed by SMC globally, owing to its continued focus on research and development (R&D).
With the objective of producing cutting edge products to meet the growing need for automation and control, SMC’s investment in R&D has increased, with more than 1 400 R&D engineers now located at technical centres globally.
The company has a portfolio of over 12 000 standard products available in over 700 000 variant forms - SMC launches around 40 new products each year. “This constant stream of new and improved products means that our non-pneumatic products – drives and controls, chillers and air dryers, and static control equipment – have made this name change even more important,” says SMC ZA GM Peter Findlay.
To help its South African customers select the most appropriate products for their needs, SMC has created a sales engineering group (SEG) at its Midrand facility. This exists primarily as a technical support function for the company’s broad product range. This support is not only for SMC’s internal and external sales personnel, but is also extended to customers and distributors.
SEG’s functions include technical advice on selecting the correct product, and sizing product for specific applications. SEG also offers an investigative service into application failures as well as counter sales support. There are also guided customer tours of the showroom, and product demonstrations and product training facilities for internal staff at the SEG facility.
“We pride ourselves on having one of the best sales support departments for the automation industry in South Africa. Our vast application experience in both electric drives and standard pneumatic fields enables us to give the best advice and support to our internal and external customers, with queries being handled in a short space of time,” says SMC ZA product manager Brian Abbott.
To enable shorter delivery times and availability of non-standard stock items, SMC ZA’s local production facility in Midrand was brought into operation in 2016. Abbott adds that this has created a huge competitive advantage as the company can offer product ranges and levels of service not available anywhere else in the country.
“As an example, we can offer three-day delivery on standard SY valve banks. Other benefits for the customer include free software and tools on the SMC website, a superbly equipped showroom, counter sales, a large stockholding and customised solutions tailored to individual customer needs.”
Training is a core part of SMC ZA’s offering, and in South Africa, the company offers five courses: basic pneumatics, electro-pneumatics, basic hydraulics, electro-hydraulics and mechatronics. SMC ZA national training manager Riaan van Eck says these training courses were developed to give machine operators, maintenance staff, technicians and engineers the knowledge and skills they need to operate and maintain their production machines on a daily basis.
“Although we have five standard courses scheduled throughout the year across the country, we also offer customers the option of on-site training. We can also customise courses depending on individual customer needs.”
The training department also offers educational training equipment for schools, colleges and universities and these are available to customers for in-house training. This range of training equipment covers a wide range of topics including e-learning, circuit design and simulation software, vacuum technology, energy efficiency in pneumatics, hydraulics, programmable logic controllers, instrumentation process control, mechatronics and Industry 4.0.
To deliver automation solutions to its diverse customer base, SMC ZA has a vast knowledge of applications in a wide range of industries ranging from automotive to food and beverage to packaging and mining. “In South Africa, we have a diverse and driven team ready to help our customers,” says SMC ZA northern region sales manager Shaun Collett.
He notes that the goal is to give the best possible service the company can to all its customers. It provides solutions and help its customers improve their processes, saving them time and money.
SMC Corporation is a global leader in pneumatics technology and industrial automation, and was voted for three consecutive years as one of the most innovative global companies by Forbes magazine.
With its headquarters in Tokyo, the company has 51 subsidiaries globally, with sales offices in 83 countries and employs over 20 000 people. It has an 8 200-strong sales force of experts who enjoy a close working relationship with their customers.
“We are committed to delivering the highest level of support at all times in line with our dynamic, customer-focused approach,” concludes Findlay.