As surging energy bills and the cost of living crisis deepens across the majority of Europe and other parts of the world for the foreseeable future, it is only a matter of time before serious manufacturing opportunities present themselves to South Africa. Some already have and big corporates are investing. The government has committed to rejuvenating the rail industry and allowing individuals to produce their own renewable and sustainable power, and this presents huge opportunities for long-term cost savings in the form of transportation and elsewhere.

The cost of labour in South Africa will always be cheaper than the majority of these other nations too and this will always be a manufacturing advantage for us. But in order to fully realise this advantage, we must not let the small things that may seem unimportant pass us by. Quality control is key and tolerances need to be tighter than ever. Listen to your customers. Listen to your distributors for it is them that are ultimately the face of your product. The customer more often than not returns to the distributor if something is wrong and they’re the ones forced to do the explaining.

We have always had a good reputation for being hard workers and producing quality components and products across a broad range of industries from the mining sector to the so called 4×4 overlanding industry to name a couple. Technology can change the game for us but it is still the customer experience, the staff the customer deals with, the aftersales service and the actual product that make up the full experience. And it is the whole experience that matters.

We are so accustomed to bad service in South Africa at times that sometimes we allow it to slip into our own businesses, and perhaps shrug off one or two badly made components. Just deliver high-quality products with expert aftersales service, first time, every time. Work smart not hard. Distribution channels take time to understand so listening to feedback is priceless really. And don’t let automation pass you by.

“To remain competitive, industrial companies need to produce more goods, to higher quality, in less time. This is hard to achieve with human personnel alone, especially given the current skills shortage. The way to resolve these pressures is through automation – using robots to do the dirty, dull and dangerous jobs and freeing up workers to complete more value-added tasks.”

“Robots have become more agile, more flexible and more adaptable, their purchase price has dropped accordingly. The days of one large, bespoke, immovable robot, surrounded by heavy guarding, doing one standardised job over and over are gone. Today’s automated solutions take up a smaller footprint, are lighter, and can often be easily redeployed as business needs evolve to meet changing consumer demand, making them a lasting investment that can continue to add value for years to come.”

You might have your way of doing things, but don’t be afraid to learn new things too as this is the only way to take advantage of opportunities. The next generation uses technology to learn so it is imperative to incorporate it into your business because every business needs to be able to adapt if necessary in order to survive.

Remember that by the time your products end up in the hands of an overseas customer, this customer is expecting everything to be 100% as you said it would be, and it should look like it did on your website if you have an Internet presence. They’ve paid a premium for it by the time it reaches them so it should be a given that they are happy with not just the product, but the whole experience.

Better production with reliable quality will be better for everyone. Understand your market, talk openly with your customers and distributors and understand what they want and what they expect. Don’t cut corners to save a buck, quality never cuts corners.

Damon Crawford
Online Editor