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Boost for SA manufacturing research

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The advancement of manufacturing in South Africa and on the continent has received a significant boost from four of South Africa’s top manufacturers.

Listed groups Illovo Africa, Metair, TFG and vehicle manufacturer, Toyota SA Motors (TSAM), together pledged an 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 multi-year investment will fund the creation of four dedicated research chairs. Each chair will focus on a particular burning 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,” said TWIMS Chairman, 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. In the 20 years to 2018, South Africa’s average value addition per capita through manufacturing was only 0.5%, compared to 8% in Vietnam and 5.7% in India,” said Justin Barnes, Executive Director of TWIMS and an Associate Professor at GIBS.

Immense capacity

“These numbers do not reflect the immense capacity for economic growth that lies dormant in South Africa and Africa. 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.”

The investment into the four research areas was announced during a small business function in the new auditorium at the TWIMS campus. The function was attended by the leaders of the four sponsoring companies, members of the TWIMS advisory board, selected guests, and the media.

Gavin Dalgleish, Group MD of Illovo Sugar Africa said Africa’s manufacturing sector is ideally positioned for significant growth across different industries in the continent – creating considerable opportunity for investment and sustainable jobs.

“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.”

Mbongeni Ndlovu has been appointed as the Illovo-sponsored Head of African Trade and Industrialisation.

Riaz Haffejee, CEO of Metair said, “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. In addition to the drive for more sustainable automotive products in operation and at end of life, vehicle manufacturers are placing increasing importance on green manufacturing processes.”

He said this trend was likely to intensify across industries in coming years and posed a very interesting opportunity. “More so, sustainability is a global imperative that should be top priority for every business and society to ensure that future generations can benefit from Earth’s bounty.”

Liesel Kassier has been appointed as the Metair-sponsored Head of Green Manufacturing research.

Anthony Thunstrom, CEO of TFG said technology was advancing at an ever-increasing pace. “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.”

Dr Kruschen Govender has been appointed as the TFG-sponsored Head of Future Manufacturing research.

Andrew Kirby, President and CEO of TSAM said manufacturers have to constantly innovate and adapt to remain viable and profitable. “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 who are well versed in the specific challenges of a manufacturing organisation. Toyota is the father of lean manufacturing and the practice of lean management. We are proud to support TWIMS and the Lean Management Research Chair.”

Khavitha Singh has been appointed as the Toyota-sponsored Head of Lean Management.

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