The advancement of manufacturing in South Africa and on the rest of the continent has received a boost from four South African manufacturers.
JSE-listed groups Illovo Africa, Metair and The Foschini Group (TFG), as well as local vehicle manufacturer Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), have pledged a combined investment of R18-million in the Toyota Wessels Institute for Manufacturing Studies (TWIMS).
TWIMS, which as an academic partnership with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), is South Africa’s only manufacturing-focused business school and research institution.
The multiyear investment will specifically fund the creation of four dedicated research chairs.
Each chair will focus on a particular issue relating to the advancement of manufacturing on the continent.
“We hold that the only way for an economy to grow sustainably is through industrialisation,” says TWIMS and TSAM chairperson Dr Johan van Zyl.
“Unfortunately, South Africa has lagged the rest of the developing world in harnessing manufacturing for this purpose, and it is even more pronounced for the rest of the continent.
“We thank the corporate sponsors for their generous investment, which will go a long way towards addressing this issue.”
TWIMS has identified four key areas for further research.
They are African Trade and Industrialisation, Green Manufacturing, Future Manufacturing and Lean Management.
These areas will now be funded by Illovo Africa, Metair, TFG and TSAM, respectively.
“Our research shows that South Africa’s manufacturing sector has developed sub-optimally over the last two decades,” adds TWIMS executive director Justin Barnes, who is also an associate professor at GIBS.
In the 20 years to 2018, South Africa’s average value addition per capita through manufacturing was only 0.5%, compared with 8% in Vietnam and 5.7% in India.
“These numbers do not reflect the immense capacity for economic growth that lies dormant in South Africa and the rest of Africa,” says Barnes.
“We urgently need to develop a passion for and commitment to manufacturing in order to unlock our economic growth and benefit from the rapid change in technology that we currently see around the world.”
Four Key Areas
“Africa’s manufacturing sector is ideally positioned for significant growth across different industries on the continent, creating considerable opportunity for investment and sustainable jobs,” says Illovo Sugar Africa group MD Gavin Dalgleish.
“As the continent’s biggest sugar producer, we are very excited to be partnering with TWIMS for the advancement of African manufacturing leadership and trade and industrialisation, which is an initiative that aligns perfectly with our Illovo purpose – ‘Thriving African Community.’ ”
Dalgleish adds that improving the agroprocessing supply chain requires various manufacturing interventions, such as soil mapping and chemical applications by drone.
“It’s about getting more out of each hectare of land, out of each litre of water.”
Mbongeni Ndlovu has been appointed as the Illovo-sponsored head of African Trade and Industrialisation.
“Given our exposure to the automotive industry and own efforts in adopting more environmentally friendly mobility options, we felt that sponsoring the Green Manufacturing programme is an excellent fit for Metair,” says Metair CEO Riaz Haffejee.
Metair produces batteries and vehicle components.
“In addition to the drive for more sustainable automotive products in operation and at the end of life, vehicle manufacturers are placing increasing importance on green manufacturing processes,” explains Haffejee.
“This is a trend that is likely to intensify across industries in coming years and poses a very interesting opportunity.”
Liesel Kassier has been appointed as the Metair-sponsored head of Green Manufacturing research.
“Technology is advancing at an ever-increasing pace,” notes TFG CEO Anthony Thunstrom.
“The subsequent disruption of manufacturing and management practices is both a threat and an opportunity for African manufacturers.
“We hope that with our investment in the creation of a research chair in future manufacturing we will be able to help position the country and continent to benefit from this change.”
“We recently acquired the Jet business out of Edcon,” adds Thunstrom.
“That has close to trebled the number of units of apparel we’ll be selling in South Africa every year.
“The majority of that will be sourced in South Africa and that means we’ll be needing more and greater manufacturing capacity in the country.
“Our manufacturing challenge is that we have to be absolutely cutting-edge. Increasingly we are looking at big data and three-dimensional printing of some of our commodities, really embracing the next wave of manufacturing.
“Three or four years ago, we were told categorically that we could never manufacture in South Africa at a price equal to the landed cost of product out of the Far East. The good news for a lot of the simpler product is that we can manufacture them cheaper locally.”
Dr Kruschen Govender has been appointed as the TFG-sponsored head of Future Manufacturing research.
“Manufacturers have to constantly innovate and adapt to remain viable and profitable,” notes TSAM president and CEO Andrew Kirby.
“This is especially true given the many disruptions to our logistical infrastructure, electricity supply, labour force and raw material inputs.
“To best address this, we need skilled managers that are well versed in the specific challenges of a manufacturing organisation. Toyota is the father of lean manufacturing and the practice of lean management.”
Khavitha Singh has been appointed as the Toyota-sponsored head of Lean Management.
TWIMS was established in November 2018 as a way to address the shortage of business managers with manufacturing expertise and to support research, policy creation and the industrialisation of South Africa and the continent.
The school was made possible thanks to an endowment of R56-million from the Toyota South Africa Educational Trust (TSAET).
TSAET later made a second endowment of R70-million for the creation of a dedicated scholarship for students to participate in the GIBS manufacturing-focused Master of Business Administration (MBA).
TWIMS has subsequently established a further scholarship for students from across the continent to attend the various manufacturing short courses on offer.
Since welcoming its first cohort of manufacturing-focused MBA students in 2019, TWIMS has grown its campus with a new 80-seat Harvard-style auditorium, several academic break-out rooms, and a gym and swimming pool to complement the on-site accommodation.
Moreover, TWIMS is the process of investing in a technology exploration centre that it calls a “Management Sandbox”.
Earlier this year, the first cohort of GIBS MBA students completed their studies.
At the same time, TWIMS welcomed the third group of MBA students, as well as its first Doctoral student.
This brings the number of postgraduate manufacturing-focused GIBS students on campus to 80.