Pandemic-related lockdowns and global supply chain interruptions have highlighted the need to localise – and digitalise – vehicle manufacturing processes.
According to a report by Deloitte about the impact of Covid-19 on the international automotive sector, 80% of global vehicle production involves some form of “Made in China” parts.
For developing countries like India and South Africa, deepening local supply chains could lessen this reliance, strengthen the economy and create jobs for a growing population. But the practicalities of sourcing skilled labour and ensuring that locally made products are competitive in terms of cost and quality have left suppliers struggling to implement the right solutions.
As major vehicle-producing countries in their respective regions, both India and South Africa are ripe for a smart manufacturing revolution to address these issues. Post-Covid-19, the global smart manufacturing market is projected to grow from US$181.3 billion in 2020 to US$220.4 billion by 2025.
In South Africa, vehicle and component production accounts for almost a third of the country’s manufacturing output. While the Original Equipment Manufacturers and their Tier 1 component suppliers are well established, Tier 2 and 3 suppliers are underdeveloped and contribute just 20% to the automotive value chain.
The government’s new South African Automotive Masterplan, which aims to make the sector globally competitive by 2035, outlines ambitious targets such doubling direct employment and vehicle production, and increasing average local content in vehicles from 39% to 60%.
“Covid-19 will certainly cause job and production losses, and delay implementation of the plan, but the intention is clear,” says Jendamark SA’s sales and digital services director, Yanesh Naidoo.
“The plan creates serious opportunities for localisation of our supply chain, especially for black entrepreneurs, but we need to adopt new technologies and skills fast.
“The Odin Manufacturing solutions that we’ve developed are uniquely geared to the operating challenges within a developing economy. They are designed to assist deep localisation and don’t need high-end IT infrastructure. Most importantly, they don’t cause job losses,” explains Naidoo.
He points to solutions like the Odin Workstation operator guidance system and Odin Maintenance apps, which were designed to support human operators and technicians.
“Technology can equip even semi-skilled operators to perform complex tasks with minimum training, and ensure that production processes become faster, more accurate and efficient.”
Similarly, the Government of India’s stimulus package and the Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India) movement have provided the impetus for manufacturers to boost local production.
“The Indian automotive industry was at a crucial juncture when the pandemic hit,” says Jendamark India director and CEO Himanshu Jadhav.
“India had committed itself to move from BS4 to BS6 emission norms from 1 April – a seemingly impossible task was on the brink of reality when the national lockdown was announced.
“With the supply chain cut off, and the border stand-off with China creating difficulties, it exposed the industry’s dependence on other countries, as many things from raw material to complex electronic hardware were imported.
“In our own business, we were planning to bring some complex equipment from China for one of our EV customers. But we took up the challenge to ‘Make In India’. We looked for the right material and processes, scouted for local partners with similar experience, and it was a success.”
Jadhav says an over-reliance on cheap imports, in the form of critical inputs and raw materials, has created a problem for many industries.
“Unless there is input substitution where India either identifies other sources or augments domestic production, there will be continued reliance on China. We know that there are limiting factors but digitalisation can fast-track the process.”
Jadhav says the manufacturing sector is already on a journey to digital transformation but that Covid-19 has been the catalyst to accelerate the adoption of digital technology.
“Localisation and digitalisation are now even more important than ever, as the pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of companies, industries and countries that have not embraced these factors.
“Smart technologies allow businesses to streamline processes and increase efficiency, while helping to revive the economy and restore normalcy.”
He believes localisation of the value chain from the bottom up, with intelligent automation, can help to meet uncertain demand and huge cost pressures in times such as these.
“Digital transformation is preparing the manufacturing industry for current and future interruptions or black swan events by plugging gaps across production, distribution and management.
“Moving towards digital is not a choice any more but a necessity for survival,” says Jadhav.
“New technologies are helping manufacturers to increase efficiency, enable high levels of product customisation, and improve speed to market. Covid-19 has changed the narrative around automation technology from ‘good to have’ to ‘must-have’.”
Organisations that show agility and adopt the right technologies will have a competitive advantage and a sustainable future, says Jadhav.
“It’s with such organisations that Jendamark wishes to partner and share our Odin Manufacturing ecosystem and digital services.”
Jendamark supports the Incubating Great Engineering Minds (iGEMS) programme, which is fostering a new generation of engineers ready to meet the demands of a tech-driven world.
Run under the auspices of the Unity in Africa Foundation, iGEMS is an education-to-employment initiative that aims to develop employable, passionate and skilled engineers, and also place work-ready graduates into the marketplace.
With artificial intelligence and robotics already prevalent in industry, the foundation believes the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) will require a niche set of graduates who are familiar with the demands of the world of work.
According to Jendamark’s apprentice co-ordinator Allan Bellairs, the company has been involved with iGEMS since 2016 and sees great value in the multi-layered approach to youth development and creating a talent pipeline.
“For us it’s about both skills development and socioeconomic development. It helps to fulfil our commitment to community engagement, while also assisting in the development of work-ready professional engineering graduates.”
The programme introduces the youth in Jendamark’s hometown of Nelson Mandela Bay to the technological revolution through annual coding and programming workshops. Weekly maths, science and leadership development sessions round out the supportive, holistic approach to education.
Aside from financial support for iGEMS, Jendamark also acts as a host company, facilitating site visits for participants, and absorbing one or two learners annually for a year of experiential learning and mentorship. This acts as a working “gap year” for learners who have successfully completed
Grade 12 before embarking on their tertiary studies.
“The student becomes a full-time employee at Jendamark for one year, experiencing the world of work, especially in relation to an engineering career such as electronics or robotics,” says Bellairs.
He says the year of work assists in making the transition to university easier as it links practical and theoretical knowledge, and creates a working relationship between student and industry.
“It really allows students the opportunity to change their interest in engineering into an absolute passion!”
Jendamark South Africa’s new tech centre is an exciting space for collaborating with customers and forging new paths on the digital transformation journey.
“As the ecosystem of digital products and services grows, we can now showcase the different offerings, as well as our partners’ technologies, while finding new ways of solving some of the toughest challenges on the production line,” says Jendamark’s manager for digital strategy and transformation, Juane Schutte.
“We have defined Industry 4.0 not as a bunch of technologies, but as a new way of collaborating in an ecosystem that works together seamlessly to provide value to our stakeholders and customers,” says Schutte.
Some of the technologies that customers can look forward to experiencing first-hand include the:
- Odin data platform – WorkStation (operator guidance system), LineWatch (real-time production dashboard) and mobile apps (end-of-line quality inspection).
- Integrated hardware – Odin smart watch, wireless bolting tools, augmented reality glasses, infrared sensors for hand and tool tracking, scanners and cameras.
- Virtual reality
– production line simulation to ensure design optimisation;
– operator training using digital worker guidance;
– development and simulation by gaming developers.
- 3D printing – printing parts for testing, new part development and prototyping.
Schutte says the tech centre also includes a giant screen for demonstrating the various capabilities to visiting groups and customers.
“It is exciting to be able to show the many practical applications for digital technologies throughout an organisation. We can help customers to improve efficiencies for operators, HR personnel, production
managers, process engineers, data scientists and more.”
So far, Jendamark has hosted visitors from all strata, including students, CEOs and government officials.
“Everyone who enters the room gains a practical understanding of how Industry 4.0 is impacting manufacturing and the future of work,” explains Schutte.
“The feedback has been phenomenal. We think this is because real collaboration has been missing between businesses and stakeholders. We find that, after visiting our tech centre, our potential customers want to bring their own children to learn and open their eyes to the ways in which the future of work will be impacted.
“We look forward to not only showcasing our tech, but also enabling eager learners to get involved and build new solutions together. Technology should not be a stumbling block but rather a great enabler for future growth.”
Making the move from machine builder to technology company has been a natural progression for the newly rebranded Jendamark India – and one that will have huge implications for its global customers.
That’s the message from Himanshu Jadhav, who has taken the helm as chief executive offi cer and director of the new-look entity, previously known as Jendamark Techcellency.
By aligning more closely with Jendamark’s international head office in South Africa, Jadhav says, Jendamark India will be able to bring the latest solutions and technological advancements to its Asian customers.
“We are looking to move towards value creation for our customers by bringing new systems, new innovations and something new which does not exist in the current market.
“Previously, India was focused only on manufacturing. With access to this broader global offering, operating with the same vision and focus as Jendamark SA just makes much more sense.
“With this restructuring, we have re-aligned our business to focus more on automation and Industry 4.0-driven digital technology.”
Jadhav makes it clear that the Pune and Port Elizabeth plants will continue to operate in a unified manner, combining their strengths to deliver turnkey assembly facilities, but that Jendamark India’s particular understanding of the local manufacturing sector will allow it to make a unique contribution on the subcontinent.
“We will introduce our special blend and way of doing things, and gradually take more responsibility in shared customer projects. There is a lot to share and learn between the companies,” he says.
As far as the implications for customers are concerned, Jadhav says he believes they will be the biggest
beneficiaries of this positive development.
“There will be investments made in the near future in specific areas for technological advancements.
Knowledge transfer will be smoother, with our research and development team working on specific solutions needed by Indian customers,” he says.
Jendamark Automation’s operations director Siegfried Lokotsch remains in his role as chairman of the board of Jendamark India.
“The Jendamark name has always represented the highest standards in automation technology and service to the global automotive industry. We are proud of the tremendous strides Jendamark India has made since the start of our association five years ago and we are excited to continue growing in service of the booming Indian manufacturing sector,” adds Lokotsch.
Jendamark is proud to be associated with long-standing customer Eberspächer
South Africa, which recently became SA’s first recipient of the Factory of the Year award.
As a supplier to the major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) globally, Eberspächer has become synonymous with the manufacture and assembly of catalytic converters, diesel and petrol particulate filters, mufflers, pipes and cold-end exhaust systems.
This reputation for quality was cemented this year, when the company received the inaugural South African award, which forms part of the highly prized international Factory of the Year initiative.
According to Eberspächer SA managing director Kieron Jordaan, the company was ranked in the second quintile of the global competition, having demonstrated above-average performance across the customer satisfaction, economics and quality categories.
“We also showed strong performance within the top quintile of the global competition across several benchmarks, including maintenance costs, employee productivity improvements, energy cost ratio, delivery improvements, reductions in external failure costs, and total cost of quality.”
Jordaan says the win is significant, especially in the demanding, fast-paced world created by the fourth industrial revolution.
“The automotive sector is highly competitive – this proves that we are able to produce a quality product while maintaining our costs, and motivating and
improving our workforce.
“It proves that South African firms are capable of competing against first-world companies, which is significant considering the ever-increasing demands and challenges facing not only our sector, but the country as a whole,” he says.
Over the years, Jendamark has helped Eberspächer SA with a number of solutions designed to improve efficiencies in the factory, including hard-stuffing equipment, adaptive canning lines and full assembly lines. This has been backed up by machine improvements and upgrades as well as service and maintenance support.
The relationship started back in 2011 with an upgrade to a press for the Volkswagen PQ35 project and has grown significantly since then, as tougher global emission regulations have radically altered the requirements for catalytic converter assembly facilities.
Outlining the changes, Jordaan says early products involved manual assembly stations with manual wrapping of the mat and ceramic monolith within halfshell stampings.
“Changes to the holding mat technologies, multiple variant requirements, tighter tolerances for our product as well as vehicle engine space, and a much greater emphasis on traceability and GBD, have necessitated far more sophisticated processes and equipment.
“Enter Jendamark,” he smiles.
Jendamark has gone on to build and assemble various complex pieces of equipment for some of Eberspächer SA’s major projects, as well as assisting with the upgrading of several machines since those earlier days.
“In addition, there is close co-operation on project management and technical aspects including process integration,” says Jordaan, adding that the Jendamark team’s technical expertise and support on call has made the company a trusted local supplier.
The most recently completed project was an adaptive canning line for the Ford DV-Neo programme, which is a diesel particulate filter intended for multiple vehicle assembly plants in Europe.
Developed and built by Jendamark, the line assembles the ceramic filter, support mat and stainless steel tube such that each part is unique in terms of identification, holding force and Gap Bulk Density (GBD).
And, says Jordaan, Jendamark is busy with the final assembly line for the Volkswagen MAR-Evo programme that has the start of production in 2020.
“The line has multiple stations to enable assembly of hang-on parts, leak testing, laser marking and measurement for a diesel particulate filter for a Volkswagen platform.”
Whatever the requirements, Jendamark has stepped up and responded to each project with consistent service and a desire to keep Eberspächer SA serving its customers to the best of its award-winning ability.