How much time do we have available?

This is the opinion piece of Paul Savides, MD of PBS Machine Tools

I was doing a new machining process evaluation for a customer whilst keeping his standard production time availability in mind but, the result was that I needed too many machines to accomplish the required batch size. This proposal would clearly have made my customer uncompetitive both locally and against imports.

So, the hunt was on to find a more efficient solution and to see where I could find more time to machine – the result of my time hunt was staggering. Using a 5 day week, I started with the basic calculation of 52 weeks x 5 days = 260 days – 12 compulsory paid public holidays gave them 248 days.

According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act an individual should receive 1 days leave per 17 days worked i.e. 15 x 17 = 255 days (or shifts) need to be performed to get 15 days leave. 255 – 248 = 7, indicating that 7 Saturdays would have to be worked to be granted the 15 days annual leave.

This means that if I used an operator to load and unload, I would have to augment an additional 122 days (i.e. 255 – 133). # 122 – 52 Saturdays still leaves me 70 days short! If I automated the line on the other hand, I would immediately add back the days lost to operator efficiency and, there would be no sick days or annual leave days. Adding back the 88 + 12 + 15 = 115 days + 133 available days brings us back to the 248 meaning we only have to supplement 7 Saturdays. This also means that there are enough Saturdays available to make up for any eventuality like Covid.

This does not even take into account the socio-economic/ political climate like strikes and the B-BBEE act that drives companies to Future Proof themselves and protect their Status Quo i.e. Intellectual Property, Return on Investment and HEPS. These companies are the assets of our country South Africa. Here is the imbalance: None of the profit the entrepreneur made will go back to the employees of the OEM’s or manufacturing enterprises. Also the across the board 5.49% increases in wages will force the employers to protect their businesses and they will need to cut employees by 1 in every 18 employed.

I know you just can’t always state what is wrong, so this is what I’d do
If I were President, I’d scrap BBBEE and ask every employer in the country to employ 1 person for every 18 they have on their staff complement. These new employees can learn the skills and disciplines required to work, gain social interaction skills and, most important, contribute to the economy. They can even be employed by the companies and seconded to training or charity groups to assist with valuable urban renewal projects.

Then, I’d tackle the SOE’s by asking those OEM’s that have equipment within our SOE’s to take over the day to day operation and maintenance of the assets. Take the traditional Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) Model used for a greenfield project and morph it into the Rehabilitate-Own-Operate-Transfer (ROOT) Model that refers to the Rehabilitation of an existing facility: Then, I’d tackle the SOE’s by asking those OEM’s that have equipment within our SOE’s to take over the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the assets.

1. OEM’s use their own resources i.e. money and skills to get the likes of Eskom running economically
2. They would behave like a concession and earn money selling the commodity i.e. electricity until their predetermined, justifiable costs are recouped within a set timeframe
3. At the same time they can train employees to run and manage the enterprise to international benchmarked standards and in a profitable manner
4. There would be competition between the different OEM’s, by example General Electric and Hitachi in the case of Eskom, to supply the most electricity into the grid at the most competitive cost

Unlike the Gauteng Toll Concession model that is Build- Own-Operate (BOO) where the private company retains ownership of the facility in perpetuity this is TABOO.

Not having to finance the SOE’s that swallow copious amounts of money, will leave the government with sufficient budget to administer our country and improve the life of all.

This would leave government to do the job they are elected to do and take care of all socio-economic aspects of the country. Don’t just make laws, make and keep order, protect our borders with the army, protect our citizens with the police and ensure our roads and inner city are safe with metropolitan policing.

The lack of discipline we experience each day on the roads with a total disregard for the laws shows the state of the economy.