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KITE 2023 promises to be ‘bigger and better’

Head shot of Specialised Exhibitions portfolio director Charlene Hefer

CHARLENE HEFER This year’s exhibition promises to deliver insight into Industry 4.0 and the potential benefits for KwaZulu-Natal

7th July 2023

By: Bridget Lepere

Creamer Media Reporter


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The KwaZulu-Natal Industrial Technology Exhibition, also known as KITE, will be held at the Durban Exhibition Centre from July 18 to 20 for the fortieth consecutive year.

Attendance numbers are expected to exceed those of last year, at 2 716, as the 2022 event was the first in-person trade show to be hosted following the Covid-19 lockdowns.

KITE organisers Specialised Exhibitions portfolio director Charlene Hefer says an appetite for face-to-face interaction, and the offering of products and services that tease the pain points of consumers, is evident, judging by the attendance earlier in June at Securex, A-OSH Expo, Facilities Management Expo and Firexpo.

This year’s exhibition promises to deliver much more in terms of outlining what is needed for manufacturers to thrive in Industry 4.0, amid the digitalisation of manufacturing using data analytics, human-machine interaction and robotics improvements.

Industry 4.0 is no longer “a thing of the future” – it is already under way and will soon be eclipsed by the looming Industry 5.0, Hefer declares.

She insists that businesses need to quickly adopt technologies that will not only help them to latch on to what their competitors are doing but also engender a high level of future sustainability.

“KwaZulu-Natal will be prepared for increased industrialisation and the cyber arena will play no small part in this development, as organisations more readily and enthusiastically adopt the Internet of Things and move forward to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, then towards a future that is powered by the Fifth Industrial Revolution.”

There has been an increased demand for products and services that will assist in the streamlining of automation processes and with the digitalisation of organisations; these trends are reflected in the exhibitor offerings at KITE, adds Hefer.

Acquiring Industry Insider Information

KITE is more than simply the meeting of industry experts, suppliers and buyers who gather to attract new business, and showcase their products and services: exhibitors will provide solutions that will equip the market with automation tools, while the seminar sessions will focus mostly on trends to help the market gear up for industrialisation and digitalisation processes, explains Hefer.

Exciting topics attendees can look forward to include how to circumvent challenges in the industry such as solving equipment malfunctions, improving energy efficiency using alternative viable energy sources while protecting the environment, and the latest trends and insights provided at the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineering (SAIMechE) Seminar Theatre.

The SAIMechE seminar promises to deliver a packed programme. Key speakers scheduled to deliver presentations are South African Capital Equipment Export Council CEO Eric Bruggeman, representing the capital equipment, machinery and equipment sector, who will talk about the challenges in local manufacturing; visual learning and digital productions solutions company The Boiler Room chief learning and innovation officer Adi Stephan, who will discuss training in the age of the Metaverse and embracing the future of learning; and mechanical engineering consultancy firm Umulig Engineering MD Mfundo Mhlongo, who will unpack the topic: The key to the green building industry.

Further, the Lifting Equipment Engineering Association of South Africa Conference will engage those involved in the lifting industry with in-depth talks on accepted lifting methodologies, industry trends and regulations in lifting.

Hefer explains that when the implementation of Industry 4.0 was initiated in South Africa, it was not without resistance, owing to concerns about job losses and the potential dismissal of human labour in the manufacturing processes.

“Stakeholders came to realise that digitalisation and automation were not only amazing productivity and sustainability tools, but also saw that they did not intend on completely removing people from the equation. Consequently, organisations are increasingly seeing the huge benefits that accrue from adopting automation within their facilities, and the barriers to change are falling.”

Contrary to popular belief, KwaZulu-Natal has huge growth potential, despite its often being referred to as the ‘slow province’, adds Hefer.

She stresses that the province boasts the highest level of industrialisation and export potential in the country, in addition to its economic structure being fundamentally based on the large manufacturing sector.

“It has emerged as a hub of industrial development in sub-Saharan Africa, owing to a wealth of natural resources, an exceptional production capacity, two very busy ports and great infrastructure.”

KITE attracts visitors from across the country, though it is predominantly focused on KwaZulu-Natal.

Hefer says the event attracts visitors not only from larger organisations but also those who come for the province’s local attractions, which, in turn, has a knock-on effect on the tourism sector. This assists emerging companies in sourcing the right solutions to help them maximise productivity and, subsequently, better equip themselves for growth and, as a result, boost employment in the province.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor



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