We, as South Africans, like and adapt to new technology

It has always been known that South Africans love technology and adapt to it very quickly. This is a perception that many of us have but we can’t qualify it with concrete research figures. One that sticks out in my experience is the use of the ATM machines and more specifically our banking system. When travelling internationally more than a few decades ago you could see that South Africa was way ahead of countries in the UK and the EU. Another area where we have ‘excelled’ is the adoption of cell phones. Despite our economic woes, unemployment and being labelled as an African country we rank very high in the per capita rankings for subscribers, depending on where you do your research.

In the medical field we are world renowned and this reputation was enhanced with the identification of Omicron, although others did try and claim it as their discovery through research. I know we all have different opinions but South Africa stands out with the discipline of wearing masks by most and I firmly believe this has had a big factor in slowing transmission and infections.

We have some of the best minds in world and we are also entrepreneurial by nature as South Africans, so we need to encourage and push wherever possible.

The one aspect that I have always bragged about is our engineering capabilities and skills. We are quick to innovate and also adopt. Whether it is because we are situated at the bottom of Africa far away from the mainstream and have to be inventive or because it is in our genetic makeup or because of our extensive exposure to the mining industry, I am not sure. But whatever it is we are not scared and like to try the new technology that is available or has recently been released. This might be tempered by the fact that we are price conscious but this is not always the considering fact.

This issue has a number of articles where people and companies have been very creative. There is the Advanced Engineering and Design Group (AEDG) student team at the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) that initiated a project to create a unique configurable golf putter that could appeal to the needs of many high-level golfers. This project reached its fruition in the manufacture of this unique golf putter during 2021, and the putter is now being successfully tested on the links golf courses of the Eastern Cape. Competitive Eastern Province golfer, Wian van Aswegen, a student at the university, has led the initiative and has used advanced Additive Manufacturing (AM) design and manufacturing outputs to develop the putter.

There is also the story on the Ford Struandale plant in Port Elizabeth that has gone through extensive changes and must be a shining light in the Ford Motor Group – just look at the pictures.

I have also done a story where Admo Engineering has made a major investment in a Hugong 12m by 4.5m 8kW fibre laser. The 8kW might not be significant nor is the 12 metre length but the bed size width certainly is – 4.5 metres is 50% more than what is termed as normal or regular for a bed width. I am sure there are not many of this size in the world.

The installation of a fibre laser with a 15kW output is almost the norm these days. There are quite a few in the country now as there are ones with a 12kW output. But my research has revealed that soon there will be a fibre laser installed in the Gauteng area that will have a 30kW output. I can’t wait to see this machine operate. One thing we know is it is going to be fast and will churn out many components. I hope the downstream operations can cope!