SEW-Eurodrive South Africa now assembles drive units and associated electronic products locally, which gives customers a significant advantage in terms of lead times, while ensuring quality to the standard imported directly from Germany. “Gear and servo motors, plus a range of electronic products are all assembled locally at SEW-Eurodrive Cape Town, which represents the national electronics and technology assembly hub for the company,” reveals branch manager Jason Jackson.
While the Cape Town branch is smaller than the main Johannesburg facility, it carries a larger stockholding in terms of electronics specifically. Jackson explains that the power modules and control heads are imported as separate items, in addition to the option boards. The fact that the units assembled in Cape Town use mostly the same power sections reduces stockholding of different components, allowing for an accelerated turnaround time.
National sales manager Norman Maleka explains that local assembly is a strategy embarked upon globally by the company: “Obviously it has taken a while to institute this strategy in South Africa, as we first had to ensure we had both the capability and the demand to justify local assembly. The main benefit for customers is quicker delivery and guaranteed availability, which are critical factors in terms of increased productivity and reduced downtime.”
He adds that local assembly is also part of a longer-term strategy to cut costs and improve efficiencies even further. At the Johannesburg facility, for example, the company has made a significant investment in installing state-of-the-art ‘assembly islands’ to reduce turnaround time from order to dispatch of high-volume products such as gearmotors. The new islands reduce waste dramatically, as well as assembly errors, thereby boosting product quality.
The concept has been duplicated at the Cape Town facility. While the products are currently assembled in Cape Town and then dispatched to the various branches countrywide for delivery to customers, a future part of the localisation strategy is to deploy Cape Town as the main distribution hub as well.
“In future, we will be able to service the entire African market in terms of electronic products from our Cape Town facility,” concludes Maleka. “In the meantime, for quality control and logistics purposes, the products go to the respective branches and are dispatched from there. This will change once we are confident that the quality is one hundred percent and that we are able to oversee every single aspect of the local assembly process.”
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