Specialist wire supplier Nockers Engineering Products notes that the manufacturing decline, which started in all local sectors in 2002 has either led to industry consolidation or company closure.
“Many local component manufacturers have become importers of finished products, which they supply to the local market,” says Nockers Engineering Products owner Mike Hardisty.
The decline is attributed to a lack of educational and technical skills, low motivation to work in trades in a factory environment, diminished markets for traditional products, manufacturers’ inability to compete with industries in other countries and the inability to innovate and develop new lines of business.
“These are key areas that need to be addressed on a society-wide basis,” highlights Hardisty.
“Government appears to have no grasp of small business and its ability to create jobs and develop skills and, with labour in industry regarded as a problem, businesses that can innovate and succeed do so through automating or subcontracting, rather than through training and developing staff,” he comments.
Companies are investing in expensive modern equipment, while also exploring higher-volume or lower-margin markets outside South Africa for optimum use of the equipment’s capacity, notes Hardisty.
South African companies have tradi-tionally considered exporting only when the exchange rate was in their favour and never concentrated on driving down the costs of production, he says, adding that the exchange rate is not the only reason for exporting being a viable option.
“The manufacturing world is truly global today and to compete interna- tionally, the trick is to find product and market niches to decrease competition,” Hardisty points out.
He explains that the company supplies wire from China to a local manufacturer to make a product for export back to China, which, in turn, is incorporated into equipment being exported back to South Africa.
“Our largest customer by volume, which we supply with material from East Asia, is in South America. However, local industries should have been able to supply the material,” he adds.
Hardisty notes that Nockers Engineering Products continues to grow, as the company is improving technical knowledge, correct product placement and treating suppliers and customers as partners.
The company attended the International Wire and Cable Trade Fair in Dusseldorf, Germany, from April 7 to 11 earlier this year to not only meet its manufacturing principals and source suppliers, but also to add new wire materials to its product offering.
“We know that we cannot be everything to every wire user, but we believe that we can offer material solutions to problems that many local manufacturers think are inherent in their businesses,” concludes Hardisty.