It is vital for South Africa to maintain a manufacturing sector that is internationally cost competitive and can produce quality end-products, says Germiston-based material transfer solutions provider Weba Chute Systems MD Mark Baller.
“The manufacturing industry has been under a lot of pressure, with the decline of the economy over recent years, but there is hope for positive changes. If companies can leverage the country’s local advantages, we can be extremely competitive on an international stage.”
He explains that the manufacturing industry must ensure that it uses the people who have the best skills and it must continue to upskill the workforce, adding that it is important for industry to work with government to achieve this. He believes that there should be a focus on developing “blue collar” skills in the manufacturing industry.
“This will automatically lead to an increase in productivity and the quality of products which will set our industry up to compete against First World countries.”
There must be a link between remuneration and productivity, and an increase in the latter would “lend itself to industry being able to pay higher wages and salaries”, Baller adds.
Further, he notes that staying ahead of the latest technology and leveraging the appropriate technologies can help manufacturing companies to ensure increased efficiencies and lower costs.
“Weba Chute Systems is a leader in what it does and we do, in part, attribute that to investing in emerging technologies. We also use the latest techniques to ensure optimum accuracy during the design and engineering phases, which also facilitate improved efficiencies.”
The company uses three-dimensional scanning technology used for site surveying, which is “extremely accurate and rules out human error”. Moreover, no two chutes that the company designs are alike, as each chute is custom-designed for different circumstances and the technology helps to assess such circumstances.
Weba Chute Systems has manufactured about 4 068 custom-engineered chute systems and is considered one of the top original-equipment manufacturers in this sector globally, he points out.
The company also uses the latest computer-aided design software, discrete element modelling and sophisticated nesting software.
“We also try to minimise our impact on the environment by using inverter-based plasma cutters and welders – which ensure better-quality products while using less electricity,” notes Baller.
He says the company continuously focuses on waste management and ways of reducing its environmental footprint – including a shift from using old to new technology – and encourages other companies to do the same.