By Raymond Obermeyer, Managing Director at SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa
One of the biggest lessons out of the Covid-19 pandemic is that in order to ensure operational continuity, organisations need to be less reliant on global supply chains.
The latter were initially disrupted in 2020 when hard lockdowns were imposed and borders closed. As lockdown restrictions have been eased around the world, supply chains have tended to skew to larger, more profitable markets such as the US as pent-up demand is released.
Exacerbating the situation has been a shortage of container vessels and congested ports which have resulted in shipping bottlenecks and the cost of freight transport rising dramatically. These supply chain constraints are putting pressure on the availability of finished articles and components.
What is not in question is that in a time of global uncertainty and volatility there is a decided benefit to being able to source parts and components locally.
That’s precisely the reason that SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa, a specialist in drive and control technologies, has invested in a new R200 million African headquarters consisting of an assembly and warehousing facility based in Aeroton, Johannesburg to service customers both in South Africa and southern Africa.
The new high-tech facility, which will ultimately be fitted with state of the art, 4IR technologies including automated assembly machines and guided vehicles, is a key component of more efficiently servicing customers while an expanded warehousing facility will allow us to hold greater quantities of stock in order to alleviate potential supply chain delays.
Globally SEW-EURODRIVE has a culture of investing in countries and regions in which it operates with manufacturing plants situated around the world in order to be closer to customers.
The company’s new automated assembly machines will ultimately result in greater efficiencies in terms of assembly processes, ensuring better productivity and quicker outputs. In turn, the aim is to ensure customers are more efficiently serviced.
Despite the fact that the new factory is automated, the company is particularly proud of the fact that they have no intention of reducing the number of people it employs. Instead, existing staff members are being reskilled and upskilled as part of SEW-EURODRIVE’S global upskilling programme. Additional staff with the necessary Industry 4.0 skills required by the new factory are being employed.
Clients too are part of the company’s upskilling focus and are offered extensive and practical product training using the latest training methods to enable better learning and to allow them to work with modern drive technologies.
Our new warehousing and assembly facility is approximately five times larger than the facility it replaces. This means we are now able to significantly increase our local stockholding, ensuring customers receive even more efficient service and are not subjected to lengthy supply chain delays.
A big benefit for clients is that SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa is part of a global engineering powerhouse and benefits from global technical engineering expertise. The business has a strong focus on collaboration which means we’re able to share knowledge, tap into the capabilities of a global network and combine the unique insights of regional partners with global best practice.
SEW-EURODRIVE is a specialist in drive and control technologies which offers a comprehensive range of services to industry for the entire value chain including engineering and selection to start-up and maintenance. The company provides services to companies in the mining, automotive, manufacturing and agri-processing sectors, amongst others.
The company’s new R200 million African headquarters based in Aeroton, Johannesburg is a state-of-the art high-tech factory, which will ultimately be fitted with Industry 4.0 technologies including automated assembly machines and guided vehicles. Not only will the factory be a key component of more efficiently servicing customers both in South Africa and in the rest of Africa, but it will also help customers to take advantage of Industry 4.0 technologies.