Driving Energy Efficiency
Given the current power challenges, energy efficiency should be top of mind, and companies should focus on selling products that lower energy consumption, states SEW-EURODRIVE MD Raymond Obermeyer.
Around mid-March, South Africans were faced with Stage 2 and 3 load shedding, and the threat of Stage 5 and 6, which wreaked havoc on both the way of life of citizens and businesses alike.
The effects of load shedding included the concern around South Africa as an unfavourable (high-risk) investment destination, and an associated reduced appetite for investment in the country.
While load shedding is expected to undo some of government’s efforts to promote the country as an attractive investment destination, it is also an opportunity for government to partner with businesses to help find solutions to the power crisis.
“If viable solutions to the power crisis are to be found, then the government needs to partner with, and gain buy-in from, industry,” stresses Obermeyer.
Meanwhile, the manufacturer of drive technology states that even though more advanced energy-saving products are on the market, South African companies continue to stock and sell products that are highly energy-inefficient.
SEW-EURODRIVE stocks and sells only highly energy-efficient motors and components, and advises companies to follow suit.
“South Africa should follow in the footsteps of industry leaders like the US and the UK, which prohibit the production of and/or the import of energy-inefficient equipment. For instance, IE 1 and 2 motor ranges should not be sold, given that the latest IE 3 motor range is on the market and available to end users. In South Africa, there is no pressure to enforce the adoption of energy-efficient products,” laments Obermeyer.
The supplier of conveyor equipment, materials handling, mixing technology and logistics notes that most of its business divisions have posted strong results. According to national sales and marketing manager Norman Maleka, the company performed very well and achieved most of their objectives.
“Given the tough economic environment, not many companies can say that they have come even close to meeting their sales target,” says Maleka, adding that this is because the company understands its clients’ needs.
“Customers seek solutions that work, and products that are reliable, simple to use, of good quality, and backed up by great service,” says Maleka.
The supplier of electric motors to the pump industry is looking to leverage off synergies with pump manufacturers in a bid to “provide a complete pump offering to clients”. The company supplies IEC electric motors to some of the major local pump manufacturers.
In a climate where the pipeline for new projects has slowed significantly, existing projects “still have to be maintained, and existing project upgrades supported”, notes Maleka.
“When it comes to gearboxes, SEW-EURODRIVE is the obvious choice. We would like to replicate this sentiment with the rest of our products, particularly our pumps range. Ultimately our aim is to be the only specified supplier, as is the case with our gearboxes,” he adds.
While the signing of Mining Charter 3 has injected some level of confidence into the sector, which accounts for roughly 30% of business for SEW-EURODRIVE, the economy continues to struggle and, like its peers, the company continues to seek opportunities north of the border.
“There is robust growth taking place in Africa, especially in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Ethiopia and Namibia. Although this is from a low base, it makes up for the reduced workload coming from the South African market,” says Obermeyer.
Apart from targeting new geographical destinations, SEW-EURODRIVE is also targeting “a new set of large customers”, including the water industry and the food and beverage markets.
Meanwhile, in line with its focus on new product developments, and in a bid to attract new clients, the company will showcase its innovative product range at Hannover Messe 2019, a premier equipment exhibition in Germany.
According to Maleka, the theme of innovation and technology, as driven by elements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, remains a key theme at Hannover, and sets the stage for the German-engineered equipment supplier to showcase its advanced technologies.
However, some of the cutting-edge technologies launched by its parent company remain too advanced for some African markets, which lag behind the “developed world in technology” adoption.
Hannover Messe is the world’s leading trade fair for technology, combining industrial automation, energy, digital factory, industrial supply and research and technology under one roof.
In line with driving its technological advancement, the company recently acquired a 50 000m2 property adjacent to its Aeroton, Johannesburg, facility where it plans to establish a brand new “smart” factory and regional head office. The development is at concept stage, says Obermeyer.