By Raymond Obermeyer
In 2018, the South African automotive industry directly employed some 110,000 people and contributed 6.8% to our GDP, with 4.3% in manufacturing and 2.5% in retail. In 2020, NAAMSA reported that this figure had fallen to 4.9% due to the impact of COVID-19. But with an 18.7% contribution to the domestic manufacturing value of automotive vehicle and component manufacturing, the largest of all manufacturing sectors, the automotive industry remains “a key player in the industrialization landscape. of South Africa,” says NAAMSA.
From an investment perspective, the seven global automotive suppliers operating in South Africa invested a record R9.2 billion in 2020, while the component sector invested an additional R2.4 billion. This reflects the desire of the international community to promote localization, while investing in the best modern technologies available.
As an OEM manufacturer of drive solutions based in Germany, at SEW-EURODRIVE we have a history of leading innovative solutions for major vehicle brands and these solutions have been adopted by factories around the world.
As vehicle exporters to destinations around the world, our local vehicle assembly plants operate to global quality standards, which means manufacturing vehicles that are indistinguishable from those built in Germany. To do this, they adopt world-class manufacturing processes using state-of-the-art equipment.
Vehicle assembly in the automotive industry depends on just-in-time (JIT) and just-in-sequence (JIS) processes, which require highly flexible and efficient drive solutions to identify the parts required by each individual vehicle and then to deliver these parts. at the exact position on the assembly line at the exact time you need it. Any mistakes or delays can lead to very costly downtime on the entire assembly line.
SEW-EURODRIVE has developed a fully integrated set of drive solutions specifically tailored to these production needs. Our broad portfolio of products and services from our range of modular drive components can be used in every conceivable combination. The predefined and scalable drive solutions of our MAXOLUTION® packages for conveyor lines, for example, can be precisely adapted to individual plant layouts and applications, while seamlessly interconnecting all other complex processes.
This MAXOLUTION® variant is ideal for decentralized material handling and is ideal for up to three connected roller, belt or chain conveyor segments for transporting components on a plant. But this modular system, which usually consists of standard MOVIMOT® geared motors, each with an integrated drive, and all controlled by our MOVIFIT® MC master controller, can also be configured to perform fully integrated conveying using multiple MAXOLUTION® interconnected. systems.
The modular and decentralized structure of these systems makes maintenance extremely user-friendly, providing high availability, while the cost-optimized material handling concept significantly reduces installation complexity and costs.
Whether in stamping shops, body shops, transmission plants, paint shops or final assembly, SEW-EURODRIVE engineers are familiar with the processes of the automotive industry. They understand that the range of models manufactured is expanding; this debit must be faster and safer; costs must be minimized and energy efficiency optimized.
To support localization in South Africa, SEW-EURODRIVE recently invested R200 million in a local assembly plant for our custom and standard product ranges. We’ve proven ourselves on the global stage, but we also believe in acting locally. Our new factory in Aeroton, Johannesburg will allow us to reduce delivery times for all our standard products, while allowing us to quickly design custom solutions for automotive customers, as well as respond quickly to service or breakdown needs.
In order to advance localization in the automotive sector, SEW-EURODRIVE hopes to bring modern, cost-effective drive solutions to more of our local Tier 2 and remaining automotive parts and materials suppliers. Globally, according to Deloitte, these levels provide 50% of the industry’s manufacturing value, while in South Africa they represent only 20% of the value.
South Africa’s latest automotive policy, the South African Automotive Masterplan (SAAM), aims to broaden and deepen local value chains to enable the automotive industry to better support national industries and inclusive growth. This must place meaningful localization at the heart of the industry.
Skills development is essential to the success of this initiative. Recognizing this need for knowledgeable people with an understanding of modern connected drive systems, we have expanded our Drive Academy program to include a full suite of automotive solutions. All users of our systems now have better access than ever to product awareness and maintenance training and we can also offer sessions via online training and virtual support.
All of this aligns with our social development and localization plans. At SEW-EURODRIVE, we are now well placed to support the implementation of SAAM: with local assembly, state-of-the-art technologies and the skills development programs needed to ensure successful implementation.