Manufacturing - April 2021

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MANUFACTURING WWW.BUSINESSMEDIAMAGS.CO.ZA

APRIL 2021

INNOVATIONS TO FUTURE-PROOF INDUSTRY INSIDE: TEXTILES I SAFETY WEAR I AUTOMOTIVE I PERSONAL HYGIENE

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F ROM T HE EDI T OR

INNOVATION APLENTY

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n this issue of Manufacturing, we look at innovations – from new technologies to pivoting business models. Read what the textiles, automotive and tyre industries are doing to grow and recover (pages 10, 27 and 33 respectively) and what innovations are necessary for South Africa to take full advantage of our position as a top manganese producer in the rapidly growing lithium-ion battery market (page 32). If you’ve ever slept on a lumpy mattress, you can appreciate how important innovations in this field are (page 38), while smarter diaper tech takes the spotlight on page 52. While the Forestry Master Plan proposes the allocation of more hectares of land to forestry across Mpumalanga, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape by 2026 (page 22), innovative biorefinery projects are finding ways to extract valuable chemicals from wood pulp, ensuring our resources are used to their full potential. The food and beverage industry has worked to modernise its supply chains to mitigate the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic (page 44), while the chemicals industry has stepped up to supply cleaning agents that mitigate the dangers of the virus itself (page 40). And of course, we can’t expect people to manufacture anything without proper safety precautions, so check out the latest innovations in safety wear on page 46. After all, even in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, people are the ones building our future.

PUBLISHED BY

A proud division of Arena Holdings Hill on Empire, 16 Empire Road (cnr Hillside Road), Parktown, Johannesburg, 2193 PO Box 12500, Mill Street, Cape Town, 8010 www.businessmediamags.co.za EDITORIAL Editor: Anthony Sharpe Content Manager: Raina Julies rainaj@picasso.co.za Contributors: Beth Amato, Trevor Crighton, Delia du Toit, James Francis, Caryn Gootkin, Anél Lewis, Nia Magoulianiti-McGregor, Thando Pato, Rodney Weidemann, Lisa Witepski Copy Editor: Brenda Bryden Content Co-ordinator: Vanessa Payne Digital Editor: Stacey Visser vissers@businessmediamags.co.za DESIGN Head of Design: Jayne Macé-Ferguson Senior Design: Mfundo Archie Ndzo Cover images: istock.com

Anthony Sharpe

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Contents

PRODUCTION Production Editor: Shamiela Brenner Advertising Co-ordinator: Johan Labuschagne Subscriptions and Distribution: Fatima Dramat fatimad@picasso.co.za Printing: Novus Print MANAGEMENT Management Accountant: Deidre Musha Business Manager: Lodewyk van der Walt General Manager, Magazines: Jocelyne Bayer

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22 COPYRIGHT: No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for unsolicited material. Manufacturing is published by Picasso Headline. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Picasso Headline. All advertisements/advertorials have been paid for and therefore do not carry any endorsement by the publisher.

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FORESTRY

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AUTOMOTIVE

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POLYMERS

FOOD AND BEVERAGE How have F&B manufacturers responded to the pandemic?

Managing forests sustainably, plus biorefineries extracting maximum value from wood fibre

What is the plastic industry doing to become more sustainable?

GLASS Smart glass is no longer the stuff of science fiction

SAFETY WEAR Safety boots walk the talk, and the pros and cons of smart wearables

Looking down the road to recovery for the sector, growing tyre exports and keeping up with the battery revolution

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METAL More government intervention is needed to revive the struggling sector

TEXTILES How the industry is driving growth through innovation, recycling and upcycling garments, and creating jobs

CHEMICALS How the cleaning products industry has coped with the spike in demand, plus SA’s green hydrogen potential

LEADERSHIP Industry leaders on tackling the pandemic and future-proofing their businesses

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HOME FURNISHINGS Local innovations in aid of a good night’s sleep

INFRASTRUCTURE Government is trying to create jobs and address spatial inequality through a new pipeline of projects

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PERSONAL HYGIENE Organic cotton and sustainability key to a resilient industry

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L E A DERSHIP

“COVID-19 GAVE US SPACE TO RE-EVALUATE OUR BUSINESS AND REFINE STRATEGY TO GROW AND ENTER NEW MARKETS.” – GARY CHAPLIN, CEO,

KAP INDUSTRIAL HOLDINGS

He says that the company continues to expand its product range with a particular focus on utilising biodegradable materials. “We have recently installed a new wet wipes machine, enabling us to manufacture our range locally. We are currently developing a range of biodegradable and flushable wet wipes for babies.”

André Oberholzer

BUILDING CREDIBILITY

IN A TIME OF CRISIS

LESSONS LEARNED Gary Chaplin

Industry leaders explain how they not only future-proofed their businesses, but also tackled the challenges of a pandemic head-on. By NIA MAGOULIANITI-MCGREGOR

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hile there is no good time for a crisis, Sappi found itself inadvertently well prepared. Besides operations being classified as “essential” during lockdown, the company’s corporate strategy from 2015 to 2020 had already shifted in such a way that there were unforeseen benefits when the pandemic unfolded, says Sappi’s group head of corporate affairs André Oberholzer. “Our shift in strategy to ‘Thrive25’ – defining how we contribute to a thriving, low-carbon world – prepared us. We were already moving towards a more diversified business, including renewable resource-based non-paper products. “Demand had already decreased for high-quality paper used in high-end catalogues and fashion magazines, so we had adjusted our focus.” As the immediate needs of customers changed during various lockdown levels, the company pivoted operations. “For example, A4 copy paper demand was down, but specialised paper for e-commerce needs such as food packaging and household wipes increased,” Oberholzer explains. With supply chains disrupted and shops closed, textile demand dropped so that dissolving pulp, usually spun into viscose, was steered instead into the manufacture of medical gowns and disinfectant wipes. “COVID-19 stress tested our supply chain, relationships with customers and employees and our internal health system,” he continues, “but Sappi absorbed the shock. We kept people working. We reduced the impact.”

PIVOTED MANUFACTURE National Pride’s business was not heavily compromised by the pandemic, says CEO Mark Russell. “The demand for diapers and wipes, as well as sanitary pads and adult incontinence products remained robust.” This enabled the company to continue employing at full salary. National Pride was well placed to navigate challenges after a successful management buyout in April 2020, says COO Kugin Muthu. “It meant a smaller, more agile entrepreneurial management team. We pivoted to manufacturing three-ply surgical face masks. We felt this was a key area where we could use our expertise in manufacturing using nonwoven materials,” says Muthu. He describes this as a corporate responsibility initiative that also built staff morale. The company introduced sanitiser products to its range at the request of a supplier, who had pivoted from paint manufacturing. Future-proofing the business is ever on the agenda, especially now, says CCO Luciano Giovio. However, some challenges remain. “One is the cross-border delays experienced at Beitbridge, which affects export volumes.”

KAP Industrial Holdings Limited CEO Gary Chaplin says COVID-19 has been just one of three major challenges the company has experienced in the past three years. “Fortunately, we had learned several key lessons post the collapse of our previous major shareholder, Steinhoff, and developed confidence in the resilience of our business model after the cyclical global collapse of the polymer industry,” says Chaplin. “Our first response to COVID-19 was to preserve liquidity and credibility,” says Chaplin. “Nonessential expenditure was cut back and all capital expenditure suspended. We forecast forward weekly, plotting possible scenarios and actions. “We had to make some tough decisions,” says Chaplin of the 20 per cent salary reduction for all non-bargaining unit staff. “In our regular webcasts we explained our risks and how we were mitigating these, and staff responded positively.” Since lockdown 5 was lifted, says Chaplin, the timber and bedding divisions have benefitted from home improvement. “Demand for our polymer products is robust due to increased health and hygiene spend, and we are also seeing improving demand across our logistics businesses. While some of the businesses, including automotive, remain sluggish, we’ll trade through it. “COVID-19 gave us space to re-evaluate our business and refine strategy to grow and enter new markets,” adds Chaplin. He says the pharmaceutical, geotechnical and agricultural spaces have since been identified as “opportunities”. With improving trade and credibility enhanced with banks and shareholders, the company recently paid back last year’s salary cut to staff. “It was a wonderful thing to be able to do,” concludes Chaplin.

From left: Luciano Giovio, Kugin Muthu, Mark Russell

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WEAVING POSSIBILITIES Government, industry bodies and business are finally working together to find innovative ways to grow our textile and garment industry. By ANTHONY SHARPE

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outh Africa’s labour intensive, in a country where level of the investment and the part of the once-thriving textiles we are trying to bring down value chain in which the company operates.” industry has fallen unemployment,” says Thandi At the core of the master plan is recognition on hard times. Phele, acting deputy of the role of retailers in developing the According to InvestSA’s Cheap (and director-general for industry, partly because they are the ones 2020 textiles fact sheet, in illegal) imports, rising the DTIC’s Industrial that drive demand, but also to try and return 2017 South Africa imported labour costs, the Competitiveness some of the production lines to South more than R60-billion worth arrival of fast and Growth Division. Africa, onshore new products and rebuild of clothing, textiles, footwear fashion giants and “It’s a sector that economies of scale for local manufacturers, and leather (with duties expensive tariffs predominantly employs work on the supply chain to improve of up to 40 per cent), are just some of the and creates multiple competitiveness, and assist local factories representing between factors that saw more socioeconomic impacts in meeting retail demands. 60 and 70 per cent of those than 160 000 jobs lost and entrepreneurship goods sold here. in 15 years, according to opportunities for women.” industry researcher Simon Appel. INCENTIVISING INNOVATION It’s an issue role players across The CTCP comprises two incentive the industry are attempting to remedy through components, explains Phele – one to provide a combination of innovation, partnerships incentives to factories to invest in innovation and strategic repositioning. At the centre and development, and the other to support of these is the Department of Trade, cluster programmes. “We have focused on Industry and Competition (DTIC), which supporting companies in buying new machines, has been running the Clothing and Textiles modernising production processes, continuous Competitiveness Programme (CTCP) since training and human development capacity, Thandi 2009, and in 2019 launched the Retailand doing research and development. The level Phele Clothing, Textile, Footwear & Leather Master of incentive support differs depending on the Plan to guide the recovery and build new growth programmes. “The textiles, leather and footwear industry is a very important manufacturing sector – THANDI PHELE, ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL, DTIC INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT DIVISION in South Africa, partly because it’s so

FAST FACT

“FAST FASHION AND FASHION ON DEMAND REQUIRE QUICK RESPONSIVENESS. WE NEED TO REORIENT OUR FACTORIES SO THEY CAN SUPPLY WHAT RETAILERS ARE LOOKING FOR.”

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T E X T IL ES

DID YOU KNOW?

US company Cognex is developing a system called Cognex ViDi to automate textile inspection. The company claims the system can visually identify faults in weaving, braiding, knitting, finishing and printing, using deep learning trained on reference images to spot patterns and anomalies. Source: Cognex

Marthie Raphael

“This has taught us that fast fashion and fashion on demand require quick responsiveness. We need to reorient our factories so they can supply what retailers and consumers are looking for,” says Phele. “The master plan methodology has heightened the need for collaboration between different parts of the supply chain, from yarn producer to textile manufacturer, to dyer, to clothing manufacturer and then to retail.” Phele says the CTCP is currently under review to align it with the objectives of the master plan, to underpin and support the realisation of the commitments by the social partners, and to support the value chain during this difficult period.

IMAGES: ISTOCK.COM, SUPPLIED

REINDUSTRIALISING AMID A REVOLUTION Investing in new technology is well and good, but these technologies require training as well as a different approach to work. Michael Lawrence, executive director of the National Clothing Retail Federation of South Africa (NCRF), gives the example of a modern textile mill, which requires R500-million to R5-billion in investment and occupies the area of several soccer fields. “Integrating fourth industrial revolution technologies into a factory like this requires retraining – your mechanic walks around with a laptop rather than a screwdriver, and is essentially a software analyst.”

That knowledge should be shared along the supply chain too. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills are becoming increasingly important among retail planners and buyers, who need to understand the capabilities and challenges of the relevant technology, says Lawrence. “They need to understand preparation time and what economies of scale are appropriate for certain price points, they must have functional, realistic insights into the machines that make the items they sell.” Lawrence says we may also need to take a look at the Competition Act. “The only way to justify such expensive technology is to make sure there is an agreement in uptake prices on the demand side, and that there is a certain amount of defined, reliable demand.” That will require retailers to participate in discussions, and, quite possibly, put money on the table to drive innovation. Furthermore, to justify investments and become competitive the industry needs to take full advantage of the output capacities of modern machinery. “Our wage rates are competitive, but the problem lies when you move outside normal working hours,” explains Lawrence. “A good machine can operate 24/7, but under our current labour regime, you can only put workers at the machine for eight hours a day. That means you get only six or seven hours of productive value out of that machine per day. What we want is two, preferably three shifts a day, to bump up that machine’s productive hours to 22 per day, which makes investment in it far more viable.”

PIVOTING TO SURVIVE Sometimes innovation involves pivoting around existing hardware and business models, as has been the experience of Pep Clothing (PepClo), a division of Pepkor, since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived on South African shores. “People generally think innovation is about technology, but if you look at clothing manufacturing specifically, we’re not a capital-intensive industry,” says PepClo CEO Marthie Raphael, who adds that although sewing machinery has become somewhat more automated, it hasn’t changed much fundamentally over the years. “However, next to agriculture, we’re the most labour-intensive industry in South Africa and the world, the implication of which is that innovation comes from people.” The pandemic proved a catalyst for such innovation, as PepClo management found itself trying to come up with a way to keep its 1 800

permanent staff busy during lockdown. They began by making cloth masks – consulting with the DTIC on specifications, designing prototypes, setting up the lines and getting workers back into the factory just over three weeks after lockdown began. “We didn’t innovate technologically – we had sewing machines and had to think of products that could be made using them – but we had to retrain staff completely to produce a new item, andin a relatively sterile environment too.” From there the group expanded to making disposable isolation gowns for the Western Cape Department of Health. “We had to innovate across our entire supply chain,” says Raphael. “We entered the medical and nonwoven fields, which were foreign to us. We had to build up our supply chain for that, educate them, do testing on new fabrics, and realign our sewing lines and internal processes.”

TALENT MANAGEMENT When people are your greatest asset, managing their skills and time effectively is essential, and here PepClo has found technology to be a boon, explains Raphael. “We just implemented biometrics for access control and attendance recording. We had an electronic time and attendance system in the past, but it was so archaic that we couldn’t draw details about our staff’s attendance and productivity.” The new system gives greater visibility for people management per person and operation. “Absenteeism is always a challenge, and how you balance your skills in a manufacturing environment is important. Previously, we had a manual list of people’s skills, but if someone was absent you had to page through it to find a replacement. Now we have that information at our fingertips.”

GOING GLOBAL In 2019, US investor Mark Cuban and his partners invested in the manufacturing of a uniquely South African leather shoe, the Veldskoen, taking the shoe global. Source: South Africa Fact Sheet 2020: Investing in South Africa’s Clothing, Textile, Footwear and Leather Sector (DTi and InvestSA)

“STEM SKILLS ARE BECOMING INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT AMONG RETAIL PLANNERS AND BUYERS, WHO NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE CAPABILITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE RELEVANT TECHNOLOGY.” – MICHAEL LAWRENCE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CLOTHING RETAIL FEDERATION OF SOUTH AFRICA

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KEEPING CLOTHING

OUT OF LANDFILLS How does textile recycling work and what sort of products can be made through this? BETH AMATO reports

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esearch by Dr Lorna Christie at the University of South Africa shows that in 2017 South Africans spent R180-billion on clothing and textiles, accounting for 18 per cent of all retail sales that year. But much of the clothing and textiles purchased is often poor quality and quickly discarded. Christie noted that discarded clothing is “hugely polluting” and that so-called fast fashion is similar to plastic in that clothes either don’t decompose or decompose very slowly. Furthermore, the chemicals and dyes used in clothing are harmful to delicate ecosystems if disposed of irresponsibly. Textile production, even when natural fibres are used, is energy-intensive and comes at an environmental cost. Christie reveals that more than 10 000 litres of water go into the manufacturing of a single pair of jeans. “This is equivalent to the average drinking water for one person for five-and-a-half years,” she says. Washing clothes releases 500 000 tonnes of microfibres into the oceans each year, says Christie – the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles.

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FORWARD-THINKING FASHION Our appetite for the latest fashions is not going to abate any time soon. And producing new garments, including those with better quality materials, takes a toll on the planet. But all is not lost, and it starts with consumers’ awareness and choice. Purchasing durable, ethically made garments is a first step. And South Africa is not short of innovative, forward-thinking, environmentally conscientious small and medium-sized textile enterprises. Rhanda Clarke, owner of the Dress Shop in Durban, believes that clothing and textiles must be kept in use for as long as possible through reusing and recycling. “Our ethos is one of promoting a ‘circular fashion’ economy,” she says. Clarke says that people are becoming more eco-conscious and second-hand clothing is becoming popular. However, the second-hand clothes market is still misunderstood. “When

Thrift shops play a pivotal role in the circular fashion economy.

you say ‘thrift store’, people think of a dusty shop with old stuff that nobody wants. We sell quality second-hand clothing and have an online shop too,” says Clarke, adding that the Dress Shop has customers buying and selling their second-hand clothes all over South Africa. Christie notes that textile recycling is more of an informal process in South Africa. “We don’t yet have advanced textile recycling facilities and programmes here.”

“CLOTHING CAN LAST LONGER IF PEOPLE ARE READY TO MEND AND REINVENT IT. QUALITY FABRICS CAN LAST MANY YEARS, ESPECIALLY IF CARED FOR MINDFULLY.” – MELANIE BRUMMER, OWNER, DYE AND PRINT

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A STITCH IN TIME Melanie Brummer, owner of Dye and Print, says that only in extreme circumstances should clothing end up in a landfill. She notes that the mending of clothes is gaining popularity, especially overseas. “Clothing can last longer if people are ready to mend and reinvent it. Quality fabrics can last many years, especially if cared for mindfully – online communities share ideas about upcycling and extending the life of textiles.” Formal textile recycling is complex, says Brummer. “Fibres need to be sorted to recycle them successfully. This is difficult to do, especially since one item of clothing is made from many fibre sources.” She agrees with Christie’s notion that textile recycling is more organic in South Africa. “We have such high rates of unemployment and homelessness. Unwanted garments very easily find new homes if you just ask around in your

HAPPY IN HEMP Abigél Sheridan of Chic Mamas do Care advocates for people to consider buying clothes made from hemp. Hemp is more durable than cotton, requires less water and space to grow, and has resistance to bacteria, lasting longer than many textile fibres. Hemp doesn’t get distorted after being washed, gets softer with time and can grow in the same soil for 20 years without depleting nutrition.

network, and many South Africans donate such items.” Brummer says that she usually starts by asking close friends and family if they’d like her clothes, then her work colleagues and then a charity shop. She says some shopping centres have bins with the word “Humana” on them, and clothes deposited there are distributed to

those in need. Churches and animal shelters also sometimes accept clothes, she says.

RETHINKING OUR WARDROBES Abigél Sheridan, owner of Chic Mamas do Care, says that we fundamentally have to rethink our relationship with clothing. “We like to say that the second-hand clothing we receive is ‘preloved’. Pre-loved clothing is not old clothing; our garments are in good condition, are dry-cleaned and resold. Those items that don’t make it to our rails are given to people in need, who either distribute items among themselves, upcycle them, or sell them.” She says that all proceeds from clothes sold go to charity projects around South Africa. For example, Chic Mamas do Care has an upcycling project that uses old pieces of denim to create new products. People can deliver their items to stores in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town and have them resold in aid of charity projects, to which over R8-million has been donated.

CASE STUDY: THE EQUATOR – THE BELT FACTORY TM

A SUSTAINABLE JOURNEY

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report by the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development, Repositioning the Future of the South African Clothing and Textile Industries (2020), posited: “Sustainability pressures within the [clothing and textiles] value chain will continue to grow in terms of environmental impact, ethical trade and localisation pressures. “Production locations unable to verify their sustainability credentials may be increasingly locked out of leading global markets.” It’s clear that sustainability is no longer just a nice-to-have. Equator – The Belt FactoryTM, is an example of an accessories company that has embraced the opportunity to produce high-quality belts, while ensuring this doesn’t negatively impact the environment. Leon Buhr, MD of the Durban-based company, says that it uses recycled material to make a resilient, nontoxic alternative to polyurethane. The company’s factory was retrofitted to include water tanks and improved waste management to prevent materials from

ending up in a landfill or in water courses. Electricity and energy consumption were improved through double glazing on windows, motion sensor lighting, and LED lights. Now it takes less energy for the factory to manufacture a belt than it takes to make a cup of tea. “People assume that this is a very expensive process, but it’s simply not true – our energy costs are low, and our waste has been drastically reduced,” Leon Buhr says Buhr. Part of the company’s sustainability journey is its commitment to engaging with the United Nations Global Goals in an attempt to do its part to reach a more sustainable 2030. Buhr says that the company’s sustainability goals are divided into three manageable parts to be able to understand and change one aspect at a time: 1. Where is the belt made? 2. What is the belt made from? 3. How is it packaged and distributed?

So where to from here? “Over the last few years, we have made great strides in developing plant-based materials

Production at Equator – The Belt FactoryTM.

that are vegan-friendly. These products age the same as leather and are incredibly durable. We will be continuing with this development with the hopes to make them accessible to the market,” says Buhr. “Having achieved our green building certification in 2020, our 2021 focus will be on what our belts are made from, and how we can innovate our supply chain and materials usage. This interweaves with our dedication to two other 2021 goals that we, as a manufacturer, have: localisation and transparency.”

DID YOU KNOW?

Equator – The Belt FactoryTM is the first member of the local fashion supply industry to achieve a Five Star Green Star Certification for Existing Building Performance from the Green Building Council of South Africa.

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A DV ER T ORI A L

Manufacturing is about people The faces behind Equator – The Belt FactoryTM

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anufacturing plays an important role in stimulating our economy. Behind every job is a multifaceted person integral to turning the wheels of industry. This is an important consideration when looking to buy clothes and products, and why it is so important to make an effort to support local. Equator – The Belt FactoryTM is a leading Durban-based design house and manufacturer producing belts for some of South Africa’s major retailers and brands. It has also always been a proponent of people-first manufacturing. “People-first means providing dignified and productive work environments to all employees,” says director Leon Buhr. “It also means considering our environmental impact, and how we engage and listen to staff to create an inclusive and equitable company culture. In our world, soil is the lifeblood of our existence, in business people are the soil. From healthy soil, wonderful things can grow.”

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THESE ARE THE PEOPLE OF MANUFACTURING

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Meet some of the faces behind making your belts: Amber Grant is Equator’s in-house trend forecaster and designer. “Trend forecasting is the starting point,” says Amber. “It’s

He also sits on multiple committees in the company, including the Employment Equity, Sustainability, and Celebrate Diversity committees. He is also the ultimate champion behind the company’s sustainability journey. Rajeev Matai “When it comes to sustainability, Michael it has been amazing to take my Peter learnings home with me. But I think the best part is when things start working and the hard work pays off. I feel so proud to see the staff at the factory doing their part and knowing that I had something to do with it.” Philisiwe Hlatshwayo has been responsible for ensuring Teamwork is at the heart of our achievements that high-touch surfaces such as tables and light switches are sanitised multiple times a day since the start of the pandemic. This is in addition to her regular about looking to the future and determining Philisiwe routine of ensuring all areas of key trends, colours, silhouettes and materials Hlatshwayo the factory are cleaned each that will inform the design of our products. I work day. “It has been difficult look at what is happening internationally and with COVID-19”, says Philisiwe. “But I work hard how we can make it relevant for our market.” at my system and my time management Vishal Ramdutt is and ensure that I do them well. I enjoy my Equator’s production floor job and take great pride in what I do.” supervisor. Vishal and his team Lungani Manqele is in charge are responsible for ensuring of waste management. Part of what the craftsmanship and quality Lungani does daily is sorting behind the manufacturers’ through rejects, materials product, and aligning Vishal off-cuts and raw materials production processes with their Ramdutt waste products from the aim to be more responsible, factory with the aim to sell sustainable and circular in or donate these products to small approach. “I love working with people and the businesses and informal traders. “I challenge that supervising a big team brings,” Lungani see a lot of value in this process,” says Vishal. Manqele says Lungani. “We not only Nteboheng Mohare works have less waste, but we also in belt production on staining, supply many people with ensuring the edge of the belt is useful materials, which makes properly stained and no residue them very happy.” is left on top of the belt. “Even though the work is sometimes hard, I apply love to what Nteboheng Mohare I’m doing so that I do it well. I’m proud of my job because through it I became a breadwinner,” says Nteboheng. Rajeev Matai is head of Amber Grant production excellence at Equator.

“PEOPLE-FIRST MEANS PROVIDING DIGNIFIED AND productive WORK ENVIRONMENTS TO ALL EMPLOYEES. IT ALSO MEANS CONSIDERING OUR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT, AND HOW WE ENGAGE AND LISTEN TO STAFF TO CREATE AN INCLUSIVE AND EQUITABLE COMPANY CULTURE.” – LEON BUHR, DIRETOR, EQUATOR – THE BELT FACTORYTM

For more information: 031 702 1469 8 Pine Industrial Park, 16 Pineside Road, New Germany, 3610, KZN, South Africa https://equator.group https://thebeltshop.co.za

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T E X T IL ES

PATCHING UP THE CLOTHING AND TEXTILE INDUSTRY THANDO PATO speaks to stakeholders from the clothing, textile, footwear and leather industry about their plans to help revive the local industry and create jobs

CENTRE, TFG MANUFACTURING AND PRESTIGE CLOTHING

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“We intend to roll out an expansion programme that includes taking over factories that are in trouble and absorbing them into our value chain, allowing us to retrain their staff.”

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DID YOU KNOW?

ey stakeholders in the clothing, textile, footwear and leather (CTFL) industry are The City of Cape Town in partnership with the Craft and Design Institute has committed to restoring South Africa’s launched the Cape Skills and Employment Accelerator project, focused on once-proud sector. The Retail-Clothing, creating employment opportunities for youth and women in Cape Town’s Textile, Footwear & Leather Master clothing and textile industry over the next three years. Plan, formulated by the sector, labour and the Source: Craft and Design Institute Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) in 2019, aims among “The IT infrastructure in our plants is showing us other things to ramp up by the sheer volume of undervalued what a massive difference we are making to local local production to boost and misdeclared imports of its retailers by being nimble,” says Choice. employment in the sector, products, such as yarns and fabrics, The group currently has 3 170 employees with a target of creating 165 and the products of its customers, across its various factories and plans to grow the 000 jobs by 2030. such as domestic textiles and apparel. staff complement by 2 000 in the next year, with Key challenges facing Illegal imports have displaced the local an overall target of 5 000 over the next few years, the industry include illegal supply chain.” explains Choice. “We intend to roll out imports, a lack of government Brink says what has also hastened an expansion programme that includes taking support, and a skills shortage the decline is a severe shortage Graham over factories that are in trouble and absorbing in the industry, says Brian of managerial, operational and Choice them into our value chain, allowing us to retrain Brink, executive director of technological skills in the industry. their staff.” the Textile Federation. “The “This hampers the necessary He says that training, deploying modern textile industry has been severely impacted upgrading of productivity and technological production equipment and processes, and advancements to meet the competition.” an effective HR strategy are all key to the PUSH AND PULL expansion programme. Part of the TFG RELOOKING THE WAY BUSINESS IS DONE ON EMPLOYMENT strategy includes introducing a curriculum that Graham Choice, head of TFG Design Centre, In 2016, StatsSA reported that the is pitched at NQF level 2 and 3 for sewing, Manufacturing and Prestige Clothing, says CTFL sector had the biggest loss in cutting and fitting so as to standardise the that to successfully contribute to the master employment in the manufacturing skillsets required and upskill staff currently doing plan, TFG has taken a strategic multipronged industry between 2005 and 2014, with those jobs. He adds that the industry needs more approach in its operations. This includes 91 000 jobs lost. In the third quarter of senior people on the shop floors. This is why changing its production and manufacturing 2020, the manufacturing sector (including TFG is introducing a Production Management model to compete with that of Chinese CTFL) reported job losses. However, the Academy, which offers an intensive two-year importers, who need at least six months’ DTIC recently announced to the Portfolio training programme including a modern advance notice to produce fashion for each Committee on Trade and Industry that approach to production management. season for local retailers. investment to the value of R564-million from stakeholders such as Pepkor with R30-million, TFG with R350-million, and Glodina with R184-million has already helped save 4 300 local jobs in the – GRAHAM CHOICE, HEAD OF TFG DESIGN CTFL sector.


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ENGAGED AND INFORMED When it comes to employee health and safety during a pandemic, TFG has found that communication is key

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mployee safety, welfare and documents in one secure and morale have been place, and HR-related concerns and more important than ever questions could be addressed via a over the past year, with dedicated app. businesses working hard “Especially during the early and to support their staff through most critical phases of the lockdown, challenging times. there were weekly updates sent out Senta “The key to keeping all our by TFG’s CEO Anthony Thunström, Morley employees engaged, informed both to address critical issues and to and motivated has been reassure employees,” says Morley. constant communication via multiple channels,” “We also ran a series of ‘Thankful Thursday’ says TFG group director Senta Morley. campaigns during which we shared good news A COVID-19 multifunctional task team was stories to lift sentiments.” formed upfront, and regular meetings were held to ensure that all employees were aware of the different measures taken to ensure their safety. TFG launched a COVID-19 portal for employees to access communication, policies – SENTA MORLEY, GROUP DIRECTOR, TFG

Morley says employee safety comes first, with COVID-19 health and safety training accessible through TFG’s intranet portal, the app and kiosks in manufacturing plants., as well as printed booklets for those not comfortable with digital training. “In addition, our wholly owned Prestige Clothing factories in Caledon and Maitland have an in-house radio station – Radio Prestige – where education and information was constantly being shared. We also shared educational COVID-19 videos with employees through our extensive WhatsApp networks set up for ease of communication.” TFG has partnered with INCON, its wellness provider, to assist all employees with COVID-19 support. “This includes a 24/7 helpline which provides counselling and emotional support during these challenging times,” concludes Morley.

“The key to keeping our employees engaged, informed and motivated has been constant communication via multiple channels.”

FROM MINE TO FINGER IMAGES: ISTOCK.COM, SUPPLIED

American Swiss has partnered with Kwame Diamonds to introduce a diamond that’s a cut above the rest

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f diamonds are indeed a girl’s best friend, then why aren’t there more female diamond cutters? That might’ve been the question on the lips of sisters Jo Mathole and Khomotso Ramodipa back in 2008 when they established their diamond-cutting business, Kwame Diamonds.

Fast forward a decade or so, and a different question was on the lips of American Swiss: how could they create a uniquely South African diamond, one that hadn’t travelled through many lands to be cut for their customers? “We were looking for a team who could mine, cut and manufacture diamonds locally,” explains American Swiss group director Shani Naidoo. “When we met Jo and Khomotso, there was an instant connection. It felt like meeting people with the same objectives.” Naidoo says the Kwame Diamonds story resonated with them. “We learned they were mining in Alexander Bay. Those are alluvial diamonds – they are deposited into the alluvial plains where the Orange River meets the ocean and they have amazing clarity.” The sisters said they could do a unique cut for American Swiss and the relationship began to grow, says Naidoo. “Most diamonds are cut with 58 facets, but we asked them to develop a unique cut. We ended up with 67 facets – and if you look at the diamond from below it looks like a flower, and from above, like a star. This is why we decided to name it the Ocean Flower diamond – now a registered American Swiss proprietary cut.”

FULL TRANSPARENCY But the relationship has been about more than just creating a uniquely cut stone. “If you buy a diamond in South Africa today, it’s difficult to get clarity on where it was mined,” says Naidoo. American Swiss follows the Kimberley Process, certifying their diamonds as “conflict-free”, but some customers want further clarity on provenance. These answers aren’t always easy to provide. “When Jo and Khomotso came onto the scene, they provided the answer,” says Naidoo. “They said they would mine and cut the diamonds for us, giving us transparency along the supply chain. In theory, a customer could come to us and ask for a particular diamond, then track Shani Naidoo its progress from mine to finger in real-time.” American Swiss is launching the Ocean Flower with its annual diamond promotion in July. “For the customer who wants something unique, in its year of launch, we think the Ocean Flower will be extremely special.”

“IF YOU LOOK AT THE DIAMOND FROM BELOW IT LOOKS LIKE A FLOWER, AND FROM ABOVE, LIKE A STAR.” –

SHANI NAIDOO, GROUP DIRECTOR, AMERICAN SWISS

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GROWING UP The new Forestry Master Plan aims to revitalise the industry and boost South Africa’s troubled economy. Experts weigh in on its potential. By DELIA DU TOIT

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he new Forestry Master Plan, finalised late in 2020, has ambitious goals. It aims not only to secure 151 000 hectares (ha) of new forests and procure R36-billion in investment, but also to create more than 100 000 new jobs – at a crucial time. Though the plan has created much excitement and already delivered on some of its tenets, including R10.2-billion in investment, many in the industry are sceptical after decades of being let down by government’s execution of similar plans. This time, though, things could be different, Michael Peter says Michael Peter, executive director of industry representative Forestry South Africa. “Indeed, the industry has seen a great number of nationally approved plans that have never

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been executed. The failures can be squarely attributed to the lack of political will from a long list of ministers in forestry and water, and a lack of service delivery and accountability. We have even seen instances where, in our view, officials have sabotaged the implementation of the state’s plans with impunity.” Peter says that in this case, however, the plan is not an isolated initiative, but rather a result of the Public Private Growth Initiative that the industry negotiated in 2019 with President Ramaphosa. “The industry has committed to massive targets on investment, employment and transformation. The president, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and others must, in turn, deliver the structural, legislative and administrative reforms needed to unlock these opportunities. Delivery failures by the state will invoke presidential-level intervention. We have already experienced an example of this in a six-year-long struggle with the Department of Water Affairs where the presidency intervened.”

THE PLAN If implemented well, the plan will ensure almost 200 000ha of forests through afforestation and recapitalisation of DEFF-owned plantations. This will create the bulk of the planned 100 000 new jobs,

around 60 000 and 20 000 respectively, though it represents only a small portion (R1.6-billion) of the investment target. The bulk of that remaining R34-billion will come from large companies involved in the pulp and paper, sawmilling and board manufacturing subsectors. It also aims to remove many stumbling blocks in the sector, including finalising land claims, addressing plantation theft and crime, promoting the use of timber as a green building material, and financial support to replant pest-damaged plantations in KwaZulu-Natal and fire-damaged areas of the Western Cape.

SHORTFALLS AND PITFALLS Many industry insiders are not convinced. Dr Jaap Steenkamp, CEO of the SA Forestry Contractors Association, says fire damage is just one case in point. “Two major fires ravaged the Southern Cape in 2017 and 2019. Private companies in the area replanted every hectare lost, yet the state did not plant one single hectare on the available 20 000ha. The fire danger is increasing daily, the cost of replanting is going through the roof, and we estimate it is costing the George economy around R800-million annually in lost jobs, among other factors. Why will the execution of such issues be different with the master plan?” Dave Dobson, owner of Umziki Forestry Consulting, has similar doubts. “Similar afforestation targets have been bandied about

“FAILURE TO RECAPITALISE STATE-OWNED FORESTS IS ONE OF THE MAIN GROWTH INHIBITORS IN THE SECTOR. ” – MICHAEL PETER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FORESTRY SOUTH AFRICA

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F ORES T RY

Harvesting

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DID YOU KNOW?

Forests cover around 40 million hectares of total surface area in the country and are mostly made up of savannas. Plantations contribute fewer than 1.3 million hectares to that number, and natural indigenous forests such as Knysna and Tsitsikamma cover less than 1 million hectares.

IMAGES: FORESTRY SOUTH AFRICA

Source: Department of Agriculture to Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

for too long, while communities see no real change. The only successful afforestation I know of in the Eastern Cape, for example, was done by community members who borrowed the money to plant 1 300ha after realising they couldn’t rely on government. This has been going on for 20 years despite several plans, and I don’t see why it would change now.” And municipal forests in a state of disrepair have long been hurting the industry – yet are expected to create 20 per cent of proposed new jobs. One forest in KwaZulu-Natal, for example, was completely felled a few years ago to pay salaries and Eskom debts, and nothing has been replanted since, says Dobson. Peter echoes this saying: “The recent Auditor-General’s report is revealing in this regard: failure to recapitalise state-owned forests is one of the main growth inhibitors in the sector. The master plan addresses this and other industry constraints like inhibitive regulation, service delivery failures by officials, and no state support for black timber growers. We now need to see action from the state in honouring all their commitments made years ago.”

THE WAY FORWARD Recapitalisation of state and community plantations is crucial to the success of the

plan, as these provide the feedstock to support the major investments in processing, says Peter. But the most exciting developments could come from the uptake and promotion by the state and private sector of timber as a sustainable, renewable and carbon-beneficial material in the built environment. “South Africa lags decades behind the rest of the world in this regard, largely due to the historical misperception that concrete and steel are more reliable and attractive building materials,” explains Peter. “Modern use of engineered wood products around the world has shown that this is not the case. The cost and comfort advantages of timber are slowly being recognised in the architectural and building industries, and the recently introduced carbon tax could accelerate this.” Dobson believes this solution could be twofold. “You can build a two-bedroom house from a modular pack in just two days for around R100 000. Other countries live in timber frame houses, but we never had this tradition because in the past there just wasn’t enough timber. Yet it could stimulate the industry and would help solve our country’s severe housing issues.” If ever there was a time for the industry to boom, this could be it. “Through the growing trend of conscious consumption, people are

becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of timber products over their alternatives – from packaging to plant-based plastics,” says Peter. “It’s clear that the sector will contribute significantly to the country’s green economic recovery. The next step will be to retain the momentum created by the plan, work hard toward its implementation, and keep pressure on government to do the same.”

SA FORESTRY BY NUMBERS Commercial forestry makes up just 1 per cent of South Africa’s 122 million hectares of arable and grazing land, yet is responsible for 9.8 per cent of the country’s agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) and 4.9 per cent of its manufacturing GDP, making it one of the top five sectors in manufacturing. With an export value of over R38.4-billion, it is a key contributor to South Africa’s economy and a major employer – well over half a million South Africans rely on the sector for their income. Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal have the most land devoted to plantations of all the provinces, each contributing about 40 per cent to total forest hectares in the country. Pine trees fill almost half of South Africa’s plantations by hectare, followed by eucalyptus trees (43 per cent). Source: Forestry South Africa

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Using half a tree is so last century. New innovations offer green alternatives, extracting optimum value from each tree and eliminating waste. By NIA MAGOULIANITI-MCGREGOR

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appi’s reimagining of a circular economy and extracting maximum value from wood fibre by using the full potential of each tree necessitated a few things: innovative in-house technology; some number crunching alongside projections of the economic solidity of the path ahead; and a commitment and determination to developing biorefinery capacity. The new pilot furfural plant near Saiccor Mill in KwaZulu-Natal, set to be operational by next year, is a prime example of this. Furfural is a versatile, sustainably sourced biochemical that replaces oil-based chemicals used in a variety of applications including resins, crop protection products and solvents. “Sappi will be using technology developed in-house to assess the feasibility of a future commercial furfural plant,” says André Oberholzer, the company’s group head of corporate affairs. If the results of the pilot project prove successful, the plan is to make the plant “one of the largest, lowest-cost, and most sustainable production facilities in the world”. Sappi Biotech executive VP Louis Kruyshaar says: “Industrial outcomes can vary from those in laboratory settings. Only once a small industrially representative pilot plant is optimised do we build a full-scale industrial option. It’s a step-by-step risk-management process essential in building a sustainable, credible and profitable business.” He adds that the company is looking at opportunities adjacent to its core business, including biomaterials and biochemicals. “Sappi has developed a technology to extract hemicellulose sugars at Ngodwana Mill in Mpumalanga. This product is a core ingredient of the low-calorie, diabeticfriendly sweetener xylitol. “The company already produces lignin – a renewable, organic natural polymer – commercially from its KwaZulu-Natal-based Tugela Mill,” says Kruyshaar. “Lignin-based dispersants and binders are increasingly in demand by customers who favour green alternatives.”

SPLINTER CELL Sappi’s biomaterials include nanocellulose, used as suspension stabiliser in paints and cosmetics, or as bio-based barrier material in green packaging. “Our cellulose-based fibre plastic composites offer a renewable solution, which is all part of this green planet-friendly offering,” says Kruyshaar. “The company is developing demand for fibre-based composites and nanocellulose before scaling up production further.” While traditionally about 50 per cent of a tree mass is used to make paper, with the remainder being burned for energy, Kruyshaar says using half a tree for its cellulose content is “no longer an option. The previously unused 50 per cent, lignin and hemicellulose, will now provide green speciality chemicals and alternatives to oil-based products. There is an unstoppable move towards renewable sustainable resources.”

• ne large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people. • Compared to other large-scale crops, tree plantations release 10 times as much oxygen. • ylitol was rst discovered in the 1 90s by scientists in rance and ermany, but only became popular as an arti cial sweetener after orld ar II when urope was experiencing a sugar shortage. • The carbon absorbed by plants during photosynthesis is locked up in paper products during their lifetimes. Sources: Sappi, www.patrickholford.com

Kruyshaar adds that as a new tree can be grown where a mature tree has been harvested, “wood is an ideal natural resource for biomaterials”. He explains: “This biomass cycle reduces carbon footprint and underpins our belief that commercial forestry and forest conservation can live together.” Consumers are increasingly demanding more sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions, Kruyshaar says. “Consumers are reading labels and governments are regulating or legislating to reduce pollution and carbon in the atmosphere.” Besides consumers and the good of the planet, there is a further cherry on the sustainable cake, says Oberholzer. “From an HR point of view, it’s much easier to attract good, young talent when you’re developing products and solutions for the future. And that invigorates us as a company. It’s not just a responsibility; it’s an opportunity.”

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TREES

FAST FACTS

Louis Kruyshaar

“SAPPI HAS DEVELOPED A TECHNOLOGY TO EXTRACT HEMICELLULOSE SUGARS AT NGODWANA MILL IN MPUMALANGA. THIS PRODUCT IS A CORE INGREDIENT OF THE LOW-CALORIE, DIABETIC-FRIENDLY SWEETENER XYLITOL.” – LOUIS KRUYSHAAR, Biotech executive VP, Sappi

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AU T OMO T I V E

Technological advances continue to automate vehicle production lines.

BMW’s Rosslyn manufacturing plant manufactures upwards of 76 000 X3 models for local and export sales.

IN THE HEADLIGHTS How long will it take for the local automotive industry to recover from the impact and consequences of the pandemic? By TREVOR CRIGHTON

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ith new vehicle sales in South Africa already having declined 2.8 per cent in 2019, the automotive industry was hoping for an improvement in 2020, but saw a 29.1 per cent decline from 536 612 to 380 449 units on the back of the lockdowns and subsequent economic pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA). Its December 2020 sales report showed that the impact of the pandemic put domestic new vehicle sales numbers back two decades. Dr Martyn Davies, managing director for emerging markets and Africa at Deloitte, says the recovery process is complex. “The peak for automotive sales in South Africa was 2013. If you take into account the structural decline new car sales and the economy have experienced since then, we need to ask whether ‘recovery’ looks like returning to the highs of 2013 or simply getting back to tepid 2019 levels.”

WORK IT

IMAGES: SUPPLIED

Gary McCraw, director at the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA),

“THE INDUSTRY NEEDS TO MAKE A MAJOR SHIFT TO PRODUCING ELECTRIC VEHICLES FOR EXPORT OR SCRAMBLE FOR NEW MARKETS, FAST.”

– DR MARTYN DAVIES, MANAGING DIRECTOR, EMERGING MARKETS AND AFRICA, DELOITTE

DID YOU KNOW?

Counterpoint analysts estimate the industry will decline nearly 20 per cent over 2019. Comparisons between January–September 2020 sales and those during the same period in 2019 showed volumes down 29.3 per cent in Europe, 18.8 per cent in the USA, 18.1 per cent in Japan, 32.9 per cent in Brazil and 12.5 per cent in China.

says that the success of franchise dealers is not measured only on vehicle sales, but also on services and parts. “Since September, NADA’s member dealers have returned to near-normality in workshops due to more regular commuting patterns. Supply challenges around new vehicle stock across brands are also impacting negatively on new vehicle sales.” He estimates

that, depending on how the pandemic plays out over the remainder of 2021, it could take at least another 18 to 24 months to full recovery. McCraw says that motor vehicle dealerships support about 60 000 jobs, with closures and consolidations in the past year resulting in the loss of just over 7 000 jobs in that sector alone. “Within the last 11 months we saw seven dealership amalgamations, 21 dealerships sold and 42 closures. We don’t anticipate many more casualties, as the big groups have already taken the hard decisions and right-sized their businesses in the face of the pandemic.”

LEADING THE WAY? Davies cites the SA automotive industry as the only successful case of industrial policy in the country in the past generation. “While every other sector has been hollowed out, the automotive industry has remained solid. Credit to the DTIC and the industry for working together to shape policy that retains and grows original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in South Africa,” he says. He cites Korea as an example where plans like South Africa’s delayed Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) have worked. “Korea has a smaller population than South Africa, but it’s the eighth-largest car market in the world. It has been able to produce massive volumes for export on the back of a huge windfall from a local market that’s been protected,” he says. “The APDP aims to export a million cars by 2035, so there’s going to have to be a dramatic shift to get there. The UK – one of our largest export markets – plans to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030. The industry needs to make a major shift to producing electric vehicles for export or scramble for new markets, fast.”

THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY’S VALUE The automotive industry contributes 6.4 per cent to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP). • Total automotive revenue in South Africa amounted to R500-billion in 2019. • In 2019, the export of vehicles and automotive components reached a record R201.7-billion, equating to 15.5 per cent of South Africa’s total exports to 151 international markets. • The industry accounts for 27.6 per cent of the country’s manufacturing output. • The manufacturing segment of the industry presently employs more than 110 000 people across its various tiers of activity. • Combined with the industry’s strong multiplier effect, the automotive sector is responsible for about 457 000 jobs across the South African economy’s formal sector. Source: NAAMSA

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MANUFACTURING WWW.BUSINESSMEDIAMAGS.CO.ZA

APRIL 2021

THE NEXT ISSUE OF MANUFACTURING WILL BE PUBLISHED IN SEPTEMBER 2021 To advertise contact: Tarin-Lee Watts Business Development Specialist p: 087 379 7119 m: 079 504 7729 e: wattst@picasso.co.za Published by PICASSO HEADLINE, A PROUD DIVISION OF ARENA HOLDINGS Hill on Empire 16 Empire Road (cnr Hillside Road), Parktown, Johannesburg Postal Address: PO Box 12500, Mill Street, Cape Town, 8005

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LITHIUM-ION VS LEAD-ACID While both types of battery have benefits and disadvantages, which has the greatest staying power? By RODNEY WEIDEMANN

LEAD-ACID BATTERY INNOVATIONS There are regular advancements made in battery technologies, and in the lead-acid space, the focus has been to reduce the charging time and increase the lifespan of the cells. A key innovation has been absorbent glass mat technology. This ensures the battery is extremely resistant to vibration, remains totally sealed, nonspillable and maintenance-free, while also offering better cycling performance and minimal gassing and acid leakage. Source: Gareth Farrell, solar and eco energy specialist, Oxbow

IMAGES: ISTOCK.COM, SUPPLIED

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he increasing uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) around the globe is resulting in a growing number of advancements in lithium-ion battery technology, along with a related fall in prices. All of this raises the question: does the traditional lead-acid battery still have a long-term future? Proponents of lead-acid batteries will point to their lower costs and greater recyclability as key advantages, but the truth is that both types offer certain unique benefits, as well as disadvantages. Gareth Farrell, solar and eco energy specialist at Oxbow, indicates that the continuing technological advancements and decreasing price of lithium-ion batteries may signal the beginning of the end for lead-acid batteries. “We are reaching a tipping point where the popularity and use of lithium-ion batteries will begin to overtake the traditional lead-acid type. There are many applications and uses for batteries in general, so I am sure many will remain on the lead-acid platform for a long time to come. However, it should be clear that in the renewable energy space, at the very least, the tide is turning firmly in favour of lithium-ion.”

FAST FACT

Having the ability to manage the use of lithium-ion batteries through an electronic battery management system, via inverters, has made these batteries the first choice for the solar industry. Source: Gareth Farrell, solar and eco energy specialist, Oxbow

Professor Bernard Bladergroen, head of the Energy Storage Innovation Lab at the University of the Western Cape, adds that it boils down to the individual use case for the battery. “As a pure energy storage device, for example, a lead-acid battery power backup system is a cost-effective option if power outages are happening less than once a week. On the other hand, if the battery is used in conjunction with something like a photovoltaic solar array and exposed to daily cycles, then lithium-ion is the better option,” he says. “Overall, lithium-ion certainly seems to be the future of battery manufacture, particularly as electric vehicles become increasingly popular. Current lithium-ion battery demand warrants the construction of gigafactories. Mass

“CURRENT LITHIUM-ION BATTERY DEMAND WARRANTS THE CONSTRUCTION OF GIGAFACTORIES. MASS PRODUCTION DRIVES DOWN PRICES, FURTHER IMPROVING THE MARKET POSITION FOR LITHIUM-ION – THERE IS A MASSIVE FUTURE FOR THESE BATTERIES.”– PROFESSOR BERNARD BLADERGROEN, HEAD, ENERGY STORAGE INNOVATION LAB

production drives down prices, further improving the market position for lithium-ion – there is a massive future for these batteries.” Bladergroen says that the required supply chain for manufacturers to distribute is also growing, and ongoing research is leading to regular improvements in the technology, so quality is increasing as price is decreasing.

THE RECYCLING QUESTION Farrell suggests that at present, lead-acid batteries are by far the more recyclable product due to their make-up being primarily plastic and lead. Alternatively, the counterargument for lithium-ion is the lower requirement for recycling, due to the far greater lifespans of these batteries. Bladergroen adds that this is also because lead is far more toxic than lithium-ion battery components, which has resulted in a far more regulated environment. “As the lithiumion market grows and things like EVs become the technology of choice, so the lithium-ion recycling processes will themselves mature.” Farrell agrees that lithium-ion technology is certainly going to dominate in the future, noting that it is technology already used on a grand scale in all manner of applications, including power tools, radio-controlled devices like drones and many other similar offerings. “However, potentially the biggest driver for the advancement of lithium-ion is the huge global push towards EVs that no longer rely on fossil fuels. This is because lithium-ion offers a far greater output from a smaller form factor – and power, weight and size are all key factors in EV design.”

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OTHER USES FOR LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES Lithium-ion batteries have a wide range of applications beyond just electric vehicles, and as prices drop we can expect to see widespread adoption across a number of other industries. Almost all portable consumer electronics today, including laptops and mobile phones, use this technology. It is also implemented as stationary storage for telecoms, railways, uninterrupted power supplies and power back-up solutions. Other uses include as a lightweight and safer alternative for boats, for implantable medical devices (due to its long-lasting capacity) and as the best-match storage device for solar energy, due to its manner and speed of charging. Source: James Mackay, South Market lead for Energy, PwC Africa

THE BENEFICIATION GAME As a large manganese producer, will South Africa remain an exporter of this lithium-ion battery component, or will it begin producing the end products? By RODNEY WEIDEMANN

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s the demand for electric vehicle (EV) batteries rises, South Africa is well positioned to potentially capitalise significantly on the growth of this market, being the world’s largest producer of manganese, a crucial component of the lithiumion batteries used for EVs. However, producing the raw material and creating the finished product are two different things. Is South Africa truly capable of becoming a competitive producer of fully functional EV systems, rather than just a primary exporter of raw or partially developed materials? Kelvin Naidoo, manufacturing and technical director at Auto-X, a leading local battery manufacturer and distributor, says that the South African government has been driving mineral beneficiation hard, with lithium battery manufacture a key channel. “At present, local companies are working on producing high-purity manganese for export primarily for the battery industry. Unfortunately, we do not yet have large-scale lithium battery manufacture, but a significant amount of research and policy development is underway to facilitate the growth of this industry.”

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NO EASY CHARGE James Mackay, PwC Africa South’s market lead for energy, says that there are multiple steps in the manufacturing process for lithium-ion batteries, from the extraction and purification of mineral ore to the construction of the battery components and final cell assembly. “With the right policy and regulation, South Africa can harness a significant part of the value chain domestically for lithium-ion manufacturing. “Mineral refining for Kelvin producing the active precursor Naidoo chemicals required for the cell components is certainly an area where the nation should develop and harness capabilities. The proximity of raw minerals in the country and nearby regions along with our mining and refining capabilities positions South Africa as an ideal location for the manufacturing of lithium-ion cells and batteries.”

THE E-VALUE CHAIN Beneficiating the minerals to one extent or another is a good thing, but still offers nowhere near the benefits of being able to produce fully functional EV systems. To do this, Naidoo says, will require development of the broader value chain. “While the raw materials are available, producing the active materials is a complex, expensive process, which tends to be viewed as high risk because battery technologies are changing very fast. “Battery cell manufacture is perhaps the lowest-risk element of the value chain,” Naidoo continues, “but even this requires active materials from other sources if not available locally. On the other hand, battery pack assembly is relatively easy and low risk – several small assembly facilities are already active.” Mackay believes that for South Africa to become an integral part of the lithium-ion battery industry, the government must recognise the importance of this technology, and draft policy and regulations for driving and incentivising innovation and investment in the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries. “Integration of the country’s production capabilities with global markets is needed, as international demand for lithium-ion batteries is increasing rapidly. Furthermore, attracting private investment in this sector will play a key role in the development of the domestic industry. After all, creating local content and value chains can unlock significant growth and jobs for South Africa,” he concludes.

THE PROXIMITY OF RAW MINERALS IN THE COUNTRY AND NEARBY REGIONS ALONG WITH OUR MINING AND REFINING CAPABILITIES POSITIONS SOUTH AFRICA AS AN IDEAL LOCATION FOR THE MANUFACTURING OF LITHIUM-ION CELLS AND BATTERIES.” – JAMES MACKAY, MARKET LEAD FOR ENERGY, PWC AFRICA SOUTH

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AU T OMO T I V E

“T

he post-COVID reality for most industries in the country, if not the world, is that on the back of job losses, pay cuts and lockdowns, fewer people are driving. Someone who previously drove 30 000km a year is now driving 5–10 000km, so their tyres aren’t wearing as much,” says Bridgestone South Africa CEO Jacques Fourie. “With mileage being lower, when it’s time to buy new tyres, people are opting for lower-tier products – also with an eye on cost effectiveness – putting the local tyre manufacturing industry under pressure.” South African Tyre Manufacturers’ Conference (SATMC) managing executive Nduduzo Chala is upbeat about the industry’s prospects, however. He says that SATMC members have done plenty to stabilise sales, with a focus on production quality and the retail space, and communicating better with customers. The SATMC, which comprises local manufacturers Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear and Sumitomo, reports quarterly on tyre sales. At the end of Q4 2020, the new tyre sales market was down 15 per cent across the board, with sales shrinking to below 10 million tyres – the majority of lost sales coming at the expense of the local manufacturers. Chala says that imports from other brands have been making inroads into local market share since 2016, with price sensitivity a major factor. Local products still account for just over half of sales, though. “Some of these imports are cheaper because of the manufacturers’ economies of scale. We rely to an extent on retailers promoting South African products as the go-to, but also look to government to assist with production incentives to ensure we can remain competitive.”

BUILDING RUBBER Increasing imports from Asia and the economic downturn have put the tyre industry under pressure in recent years. TREVOR CRIGHTON looks at the outlook for this pivotal local industry

INNOVATIONS IN TYRE TECHNOLOGY Bridgestone was the first of the local manufacturers to produce run-flat tyres in South Africa. The Alenza range, also produced here, is an OEM product on several vehicles and is exported to the US, Europe and Australia. The company is also expanding into mobility solutions provision, with a focus on developing solutions for fleet customers in particular, on the back of the international purchase of TomTom Telematics a few years ago.

of rands recently to enable it to produce new product lines. “We’ll soon be announcing substantial OEM contracts, for which we’ll be producing those new lines,” says Fourie. “The technology we’ve brought to South Africa allows us to manufacture those products for global export with the OEMs – this is a tremendous boost. “We’ve also worked hard to secure contracts with local automotive manufacturers that have announced investment in their plants to produce vehicles for the local market and global export.”

Source: Bridgestone

GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES

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The presence of these four manufacturers in South Africa makes the country a manufacturing hub for the rest of the continent. Chala says their focus had largely been on stabilising the local market before expanding into the rest of the continent. All the brands make products here for both local and export markets, and also import some lines for use here. “There’s certainly a growth opportunity in the rest of Africa,” says Chala. “That will come with the right support from the policy space – things like the African Continental Free Trade Agreement – which will help us become more competitive in the export market.”

Fourie says that locally produced Bridgestone tyres are exported as standard fitments for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like BMW and Toyota that produce vehicles in South Africa for other markets, while also exporting their products. “The tyre industry is a broader part of the automotive industry and South Africa is its continental home, so products from our industry are exported into many other markets across Africa,” he says. Despite having to close the company’s Port Elizabeth plant – which had been operational for 86 years – Bridgestone’s main Brits plant has seen an investment of hundreds of millions

Nduduzo Chala

“WE RELY TO AN EXTENT ON RETAILERS PROMOTING SOUTH AFRICAN PRODUCTS AS THE GO-TO, BUT ALSO LOOK TO GOVERNMENT TO ASSIST WITH PRODUCTION INCENTIVES TO ENSURE WE CAN REMAIN COMPETITIVE.” – NDUDUZO CHALA, MANAGING EXECUTIVE, SOUTH AFRICAN

TYRE MANUFACTURERS’ CONFERENCE

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P OLY MERS

Plastic fantastic?

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here is a big sentiment that plastic does not belong in the environment, says Safripol CEO Nico van Niekerk. “As a polymer producer, we agree wholeheartedly. Yes, there is a problem. Yes, we all need to take action immediately and consistently. But plastic isn’t the problem; pollution, littering and dumping are the problem. That is where the focus of the ‘war on plastic’ should lie.” Anton Hanekom, executive director of Plastics SA, says that for the past five years the industry has been focusing its efforts on developing circular economies within South Africa. “In a circular economy, there is no waste. When a person has finished with something, it becomes the raw material for something else.”

We’ve adapted our soft POLYMERS AREN’T JUST FOR drinks to local palates PLASTIC PACKAGING In South plastics packaging and tasteAfrica, preferences.” 49TWIZZA per cent of the – accounts LISLE CLARK,forCEO,

local market followed by building and construction at 13 per cent and agriculture at 10 per cent. Textiles in the form of synthetics such as polyester consume 47 million tonnes of plastics annually. Consumer and institutional products that encompass everyday goods such as bins, input for appliances such as laptops and TVs, furniture and so forth utilise 42 million tonnes of plastic while transportation consumes 27 million tonnes. Electronics, largely in the form of insulation for electric wires, consume 18 million tonnes, and industrial machinery uses 3 million tonnes. Source: Plastics SA

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RESPONSIBLE PLASTIC

DID YOU KNOW?

Safripol splits plastics into two categories: 503 600 tonnes of plastics waste responsible and irresponsible plastic. The (45.7 per cent of all the plastic produced former is any plastic that is used, handled and in South Africa) was collected for managed responsibly, leading to repurposing, recycling in 2019. Of this, more than reuse, recycling or the correct and safe half (362 800 tonnes) was packaging. disposal. The latter is that which is not used, Source: Plastics SA handled or managed responsibly, leading to overpackaging, a lack of recycling, and bioplastics are not just one single material, dumping and pollution. “For some time now, but comprise a whole family of materials with we have been disinvesting in partnerships and different properties and applications. “A plastic products that we feel are damaging material is defined as a bioplastic if it is to the environment, have a either bio-based, biodegradable, better alternative, or are or features both properties,” he unnecessary,” says says. “Bio-based polymers Van Niekerk. are similar to petro-based In 2019, 1 842 745 tonnes Safripol views the polymers except the of polymer (locally pressure to make monomeric units are produced, imported and the plastics industry derived from plant-based recycled) was converted more sustainable and materials, rather than into plastics products – environmentally friendly fossil fuels.” 18 per cent of these locally as an opportunity rather Van Niekerk believes converted polymers came than a challenge. “The the term is misunderstood from recycled material. whole industry is taking in South Africa, and many Source: Plastics SA ‘responsible plastic’ very different types of plastics are seriously,” says Van Niekerk, incorrectly bundled under the “from the initial design of products “biodegradable” banner. “If those to individual commitments to reduce, plastics were properly repurposed, recycle and reuse. Plastic is one of the most reused, recycled or disposed of correctly, they recyclable materials and plastic waste has wouldn’t end up in landfills and the environment a value. Collected and recycled, plastic can in the first place. We should be talking about create employment biopolymers as opposed to biodegrading.” and stimulate Safripol believes there is going to be the economy.” substantial growth in recycling and innovative projects to reduce plastic in design and reuse and repurpose plastic waste into BIO BUGBEARS new products. “We also believe people will Regarding growing start taking greater responsibility for recycling calls for the use of at home and that there will be a reduction in more biodegradable litter, pollution and dumping – that’s what plastics in the Nico we all want for the environment,” says industry, Hanekom van Niekerk Van Niekerk. explains that

FAST FACT

“PLASTIC IS ONE OF THE MOST RECYCLABLE MATERIALS AND PLASTIC WASTE HAS A VALUE. COLLECTED AND RECYCLED, PLASTIC CAN CREATE EMPLOYMENT AND STIMULATE THE ECONOMY.” – NICO VAN NIEKERK, CEO, SAFRIPOL

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Globally, countries are declaring war on plastic. What does that mean for the polymer industry? TREVOR CRIGHTON investigates

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A DV ER T ORI A L

Sustainability is core to PG Bison. It plants more than 4.7million trees per annum.

KAP: INTEGRATED INTO EVERYDAY LIVING With business operations spanning half a dozen sectors, KAP truly is integrated into our everyday lives

K

AP Industrial Holdings Limited (KAP) is a diversified group consisting of leading industrial, chemical and logistics businesses. Listed on the JSE, the group offers investors access to market-leading businesses with strong brands, supplying nondiscretionary goods and services across several industries. KAP’s purpose as a group is to build exceptional businesses that create unique opportunities and accelerate sustainability. To do so, the group strives to identify markets with growth potential and then become the leader in those markets by creating innovative strategies that offer value-added solutions to its customers. To grow and maintain a competitive advantage, KAP continuously invests in its brands, products and services, and through a combination of innovation, scale, backward integration, channels to market, technology and market share protects margins and revenues in the long run. Operations are guided by the dual belief that the best product always wins and the cheapest producer always wins – this philosophy is a driver of relentless innovation in solutions and processes.

A key tenet of KAP’s strategy is maintaining earnings sustainability through diversification. The group comprises marketleading businesses – servicing various sectors including construction, automotive, furniture, logistics, food, agriculture, mining and recycling – across a range of geographic regions and growth sectors, ensuring consistent revenue regardless of the vagaries of the market. This approach creates opportunities for investors to invest in companies and sectors they may typically struggle to gain access to while spreading their risk across a variety of territories, industries and markets – a win-win. As an African company, KAP is focused on growing markets on the continent and sees its proximity to these markets as an advantage over global competitors. Africa is a region of growth: in population, development and investment. KAP’s interests in its various sectors ensure it is positioned to take advantage of the growth and development across Southern Africa. Of course, investing in innovative products, solutions and processes is meaningless without investment in the right people.

THE GROUP STRIVES TO IDENTIFY MARKETS WITH GROWTH POTENTIAL AND THEN BECOME THE LEADER IN THOSE MARKETS BY CREATING INNOVATIVE STRATEGIES THAT OFFER VALUE-ADDED SOLUTIONS TO ITS CUSTOMERS. 36

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The group’s culture recognises how crucial attracting and retaining the right people is for realising its vision, and these people – industry leaders as diverse as its businesses – form the heart of the group. KAP achieves a decentralised management structure by empowering and trusting its leadership to execute its mandate in their respective sectors. This engenders the agility necessary to adapt and thrive in today’s ever more dynamic and constantly changing world. As a market leader, KAP also recognises the responsibility that comes with that position and remains committed to responsible corporate citizenship, directing the company’s social responsibility to projects involving the youth that enhance education, nutrition and community development. Projects include the creation of sustainable feeding schemes, teacher education and learnership programmes for interns and apprentices including learners with disabilities.

PG BISON Established more than 120 years ago, PG Bison is the leading wood-based panel supplier in Africa. The integrated timber business, which has its own sustainably managed forests and primary timber processing plant for making structural timber and poles, services the retail, construction, furniture manufacturing and residential development market in Southern and East Africa and Australia with leading branded wood panels and decorative products. With revenue over R3-billion, PG Bison ensures its long-term sustainability by its investments in plantations – where more than 4.7 million trees are planted every year – and its manufacturing of resin and upgraded paper. In fact, such is KAP’s confidence in the sustainability and growth of PG Bison and the timber sector that it recently announced a R2-billion investment in the division. “These expansion projects, employing the latest technology, will significantly improve PG Bison’s global competitiveness and position the company for further growth in both local and export markets,” says KAP CEO Gary Chaplin.

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A DV ER T ORI A L

Restonic has the largest matttress manufacturing footprint in Southern Africa.

Safripol is the only manufacturer of PET and HDPE in South Africa.

Restonic manufacture all their own bedding components.

Safripol utilises the latest technology to drive manufacturing efficiencies.

FELTEX

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The Automotive Components division manufactures a wide range of components used in the assembly of new motor vehicles under the Feltex banner, with 15 manufacturing plants supplying moulded foam seats, insulation, acoustic and thermal components, among others, to all the major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in South Africa. Feltex plants are strategically located close to the OEM assembly plants, providing an advantage in terms of “just in time” and “just in sequence” supply – crucial in today’s increasingly on-demand consumer model. As a level 4 B-BBEE company, Feltex is also well-positioned to take advantage of the recently revised Automotive Production and Development Programme, which incentivises

OEMs to increase procurement from local, black-empowered suppliers. The division also produces after-market accessories under the Maxe banner, including nudge bars, rear styling bars and side steps for light commercial vehicles, sports utility vehicles and heavy commercial vehicles.

RESTONIC With a history stretching back more than 70 years, Restonic notably has the largest mattress manufacturing footprint in Southern Africa and is the only fully vertically integrated national manufacturer of mattresses, supplying more than 700 000 units under house brands for retail customers as well as its brands like Green Coil and Restonic.

FELTEX PLANTS ARE STRATEGICALLY LOCATED CLOSE TO THE OEM ASSEMBLY PLANTS, PROVIDING AN ADVANTAGE IN TERMS OF “JUST IN TIME” AND “JUST IN SEQUENCE” SUPPLY – CRUCIAL IN TODAY’S INCREASINGLY ON-DEMAND CONSUMER MODEL.

With five production hubs across South Africa and Namibia, the Integrated Bedding division comprises Restonic, Deslee Mattex, Vitafoam, Vitatex and Connacher, manufacturing everything from flexible polyurethane foam, rebonded foam, expanded polyethylene and knitted and woven fabrics to nonwoven textiles, springs, bed bases, mattresses and recycled textile products.

SAFRIPOL With revenue over R7-billion, Safripol produces polymers used in applications ranging from piping, multipurpose containers, fibres and films to textiles, nonwoven fabrics, packaging and bottling. Safripol is committed to a sustainable plastics industry and recently launched a campaign to encourage consumers to use plastic responsibly. Safripol splits plastic into two categories: responsible and irresponsible plastic. The former is plastic that is used and managed responsibly leading to repurposing, reuse, recycling or the correct safe disposal.

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A DV ER T ORI A L Unitrans passenger provides personnel transport to large corporate employers.

Unitrans operates across South Africa and in nine African countries.

The Unitrans Control Tower improves efficiencies and safety.

UNITRANS SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS IS A BLACK-EMPOWERED TRANSPORTATION AND LOGISTICS COMPANY WITH DIVERSIFIED OPERATIONS IN SECTORS INCLUDING FOOD, PETROLEUM, CHEMICALS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTS (SUCH AS CEMENT), MINING AND GENERAL FREIGHT. The latter is that which is managed irresponsibly leading to overpackaging, a lack of recycling, and dumping and pollution. Safripol’s focus is on developing polymers that support the responsible use of plastic. Plastic waste has a value and when collected and recycled, plastic can create employment and stimulate the economy. Safripol, in partnership with PETCO, has provided funding to start up two recycling plants and conducts beach clean-ups in its own capacity with the assistance of employees.

UNITRANS Unitrans Logistics – with revenue of R9-billion – consists of three operations, each with a specific focus on their respective markets.

Unitrans Africa KAP’s logistics footprint covers more than just South Africa. Unitrans Africa’s fleet of over 1 400 vehicles services the general freight, agriculture and mining sectors across nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The company has invested heavily in technological innovation in the agricultural field, enabling it to expand into the field of complementary farming services. Alongside trials of precision farming techniques, Unitrans has implemented drone surveying to conduct normalised difference vegetation index mapping. Analysing the data accumulated through this process can identify areas requiring additional irrigation or fertiliser. This allows for precise and variable application of fertilisers and agrochemicals, thereby improving crop yields and reducing costs for customers. Looking to the future, the company sees potential in commodity freight on the continent and is in the process of expanding its inbound and outbound road freight services. Unitrans Passenger Unitrans Passenger’s key focus is the management of long-term commuter and personnel contracts for governmental and corporate organisations. It has contracts with

several provincial governments to provide cost-effective, reliable and safe transport solutions to various municipalities and surrounding districts. Unitrans also operates the Gautrain bus feeder service on behalf of the Gautrain Management Agency. On the corporate front, Unitrans provides transport to and from work for the employees of large corporates, making more than 1 270 trips per day. The burgeoning oil and gas sector in Mozambique has been a growth opportunity for the business to leverage its existing infrastructure in the region and introduce a personnel transport service offering to various customers in the north of the country. The KAP group comprising diversified leading businesses operating across many sectors supplying nondiscretionary goods and services is well poised for growth on the African continent.

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Unitrans South Africa Unitrans Supply Chain Solutions is a black-empowered transportation and logistics company with diversified operations in sectors including food, petroleum, chemicals, industrial products (such as cement), mining and general freight. Unitrans recently established the Unitrans Centralised Control Tower (UCT), which utilises several technologies to monitor the safe and efficient movement of more than 2 500 vehicles. Tracking vehicles against defined route plans, the UCT helps to mitigate the risk of goods-in-transit theft and hijackings, ensures load integrity and increases operational efficiencies, fleet utilisation

and customer service. Cutting-edge in-cab systems monitor driver fatigue and behaviour and pre-empt incidents, thereby reducing accidents.

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HOME F URNISHING

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leep is so vital to our wellbeing that Shakespeare called it “the main course in life’s feast, and the most nourishing”. Having the right mattress that offers benefits such as comfort, support and temperature control will ensure a good night’s sleep.

FOAM ENCAPSULATION To prevent sagging around the edges of the bed, which can make you feel like you are rolling off the edge, foam-encapsulation technology encases the insides of the mattresses in a supportive foam border. “At Restonic SA, we use Edge Tech Hybrid Technology to describe this feature in our mattresses that offer it. We are proud to have a patent on this technology for dual-spring systems,” says Restonic sales and marketing executive Dale Harley. “This increases the overall sleeping surface by strengthening the sides of the mattress for better support, helping to maintain mattress shape and reinforcing the whole mattress.”

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS Manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to reduce the negative effects of production methods on the environment. “All Restonic manufacturing facilities are designed with an eco-friendly mindset, including greywater systems, natural lighting, borehole water and energy-saving systems,” says Harley. “Our business is built on a zero-waste principle: we recycle offcuts at each step in the process and use them for bases, legs, insulation pads and springs. Restonic is the only integrated bedding

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A WORLD LEADER IN BEDDING INNOVATION FOR 200 000 YEARS In August 2020, archaeologists uncovered remains of early bedding in the Lebombo Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal. The broad-leafed floor coverings mixed with ash are the first example of bedding. Researchers found that the cave inhabitants sometimes burned the grass bedding before adding new leaves, possibly to repel crawling insects.

SLEEP TIGHT,

COOL AND COMFORTABLE CARYN GOOTKIN looks at innovations in the manufacture of mattresses that help to ensure we get the most out of our downtime

manufacturer in South Africa, so we can innovate at every step of the process.”

PORTABILITY

TIPS WHEN BUYING A MATTRESS 1. Learn about the different mattress materials. Be aware that firm mattresses aren’t always the best. 2. See what your healthcare provider thinks. If you have a back or neck condition, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about what he or she recommends. 3. Read reviews from real customers. Seek out unbiased reviews from people who have purchased the mattress you are interested in. 4. Think about adjustable beds. This option allows you to elevate your head and knees slightly, which may relieve lower back pressure. 5. Look for generous trial periods and return policies. Many mattress companies have a trial period, guaranteeing free returns within a certain time frame if you are unsatisfied with their product. Make sure you read the fine print and understand all the details.

Mattresses are notoriously bulky and difficult Source: spinehealth.com to move. Proudly South Africa brand Sloom has developed an innovative solution to this. “Our mattresses are compressed by a powerful Kemp says Sloom’s medium foam is made hydraulic press to a sliver of their original size from cool latex foam, which reduces body heat and packed in an easy-to-handle box,” says build-up thanks to its superior airflow. Rudo Kemp, founder of Sloom. “This makes it really easy to manoeuvre them through corridors or up a CUSTOMISATION staircase or lift and enables Today you can choose the us to deliver our bed-in-afabric covering of your The spring core of a box free anywhere in South mattress to suit your design typical innerspring Africa. When unboxed, style. “Deslee Mattex mattress contains the mattress returns to its supplies first-grade mattress between 250 and 1 000 original shape and size – a fabric on demand with coil springs, totalling up testament to the quality of patterns inspired by global to 600m of steel wire. the foam.” decor and fashion trends,” Source: www.madehow.com says Alistair Marr, managing executive of Deslee Mattex. “Our TEMPERATURE CONTROL DS Knitting Machine offers limitless There is nothing worse than waking design possibilities on high-quality, up drenched, so manufacturers look soft-feeling knit fabrics.” for ways to ensure the sleeper remains cool. Comfort is now also customisable. “Sloom is “Restonic’s latest range of infused foams South Africa’s first and only comfort-adjustable incorporates aeration technology, which uses mattress,” says Kemp. “Our mattresses consist micro air channels uniformly punched through of four distinct layers: soft, medium, firm, and the comfort layers to improve the thermal extra-firm. You can easily rearrange the layers regulating and hygienic properties of the to suit your preference. In fact, the two sides of mattress through effective airflow,” says Harley. our queen and king mattress can be adjusted “It dissipates both heat and moisture build-up, separately to keep co-sleepers happy.” creating an optimal sleeping environment.”

FAST FACT

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KEEP IT CLEAN

Demand for cleaning and disinfectant products grew exponentially when the pandemic hit in early 2020. CARYN GOOTKIN looks at how the industry coped good manufacturing practices (GMP), so we did not feel the impact of this change, but some companies may have needed to readjust their formulations,” adds O’Reilly. “The amendment gives customers the guarantee that when they buy a disinfectant product from a reputable supplier it is effective against the category of microbes it is designed for,” says Sunasky. “Prime Cleaning’s existing quality control and operations made the adjustment a natural progression, but there have been delays due to a backlog

of paperwork at the NRCS caused by the rush of new entrants to the market,” she says. O’Reilly lists the following requirements that products must now meet: 1. Any product that claims to clean or disinfect any surface must now be registered based on what pathogens it reduces or eliminates – bactericidal, fungicidal/yeasticidal, sporicidal or virucidal efficacy. 2. Each disinfectant requires a safety data sheet. 3. Packaging must be impervious to and incapable of reacting with its contents, be sufficiently strong and have means to prevent leakage. 4. Labels must meet stringent requirements regarding contents, safety and claims. 5. The manufacturer must prove they have a QMS or GMP system in place. In addition, food disinfectants require a SABS 1853 or an Intertek EN1276 certification. “Industrial and domestic products require South African National Accreditation System laboratory tests showing the necessary kill rates over time for the type of disinfectant, while health products require South African Health Products Regulatory Authority registration, which ensures the product is fit for use on humans and meets medical requirements,” says Sunasky.

“CHEMICAL SUBSTANCES THAT MAKE PUBLIC HEALTH CLAIMS IN SOUTH AFRICA MUST NOW COMPLY WITH MINIMUM SAFETY REQUIREMENTS AND BE REGISTERED BY THE NATIONAL REGULATOR FOR COMPULSORY SPECIFICATIONS.” – LEE O’REILLY,

SAFETY, HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT AND QUALITY MANAGER, INDUSTROCLEAN

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hile the pandemic heralded a boom for cleaning and disinfectant manufacturers, the sudden increase in demand created immediate challenges for the industry, including shortages in the supply of raw materials, price increases, and stricter enforcement of trading terms with suppliers. “Our company was largely able to meet this demand without major changes to our operation, but many manufacturers may have found it challenging to upscale their existing capacity so quickly while meeting the associated financial demands,” says Emma Corder, managing director of Industroclean. “The demand seems to have stabilised now, and with it has come a return to normal pricing levels and greater availability of raw materials.” Judy Sunasky, head of cleaning chemical manufacturing for Prime Cleaning, agrees: “After the initial challenge of the COVID-19 rush from March to May last year, the market has adapted and is now able to meet the demand.” The Compulsory Specification for Chemical Disinfectants came into effect in October 2017 to safeguard the environment while also protecting consumers. “Chemical substances that make public health claims in South Africa must now comply with minimum safety requirements and be registered by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS),” says Lee O’Reilly, Industroclean’s safety, health, environment and quality manager. “The public is also assured that the packaging and labelling of such products meet stringent requirements. “As an ISO 9001:2015 certified company, Industroclean already had a quality management system (QMS) and followed


CHEMICA L S

KEEP IT

GREEN South Africa has been identified as a potential leader in the production of green hydrogen, with a very lucrative potential export market. CARYN GOOTKIN finds out what this means for the country

H

ydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the universe, and therefore, presents the ideal energy transfer medium, says Ian Fraser, founder and chairman of the African Hydrogen Partnership (AHP). “While hydrogen can be obtained from splitting other chemical compounds (like methane), this process releases carbon dioxide. Green hydrogen is generated by processes and technologies that use direct solar or wind energy and do not add greenhouse gases of any kind to the atmosphere.” “As the world moves towards renewables as the primary energy vector, production will become increasingly geographically constrained, necessitating increased cross-border transportation and storage of green energy,” says Jonathan Metcalfe, south market lead for Hydrogen PWC. “Hydrogen is a highly efficient carrier and long-term store of green energy that can also be used to decarbonise sectors that renewable electrons alone cannot.”

WHY SOUTH AFRICA? The vast open spaces and abundance of sunlight in Africa are ideal for the development of green hydrogen. “South Africa has all these advantages and is also technologically developed, placing it in an ideal position to drive the hydrogen revolution throughout the continent,” says Fraser. Metcalfe points out that South Africa has world-class wind and solar resources co-located, creating a good opportunity for hybrid production models. “Wind and solar in South Africa tend to correlate negatively, creating a smoother energy profile to run electrolysis technology, allowing for greater efficiency and more cost-effective production of green hydrogen than most of the world.”

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WHO ARE THE KEY ROLE PLAYERS? Numerous organisations – both commercial and academic – are working on developing green hydrogen technologies in Africa. “In the public sector, the Department of Science and Innovation and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research are currently championing hydrogen development, with some interaction from the Department of Mineral Resources,” says Metcalfe. “In the private sector, international funders (developers, investors, banks, governments from Japan and Germany) have a particular interest in Africa. PwC has established a worldwide hydrogen network of consultants, industry experts and academics. We are here to support the county in transitioning to a sustainable green energy major. “ “The African Hydrogen Partnership is now a registered organisation and membership is open to all companies and institutions that are active in the hydrogen industry,” says Fraser. “The AHP will play a leading role in co-ordinating the hydrogen-powered green energy initiative throughout the continent.”

“Green hydrogen is generated by processes and technologies that use direct solar or wind energy and do not add greenhouse gases of any kind to the atmosphere.” – Ian Fraser, founder and chairman, African Hydrogen Partnership

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ME TA L S

STEELING OURSELVES ANTHONY SHARPE looks at the key takeaways of the recently released State of the Metals and Engineering Sector Report 2021-2022

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“INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT OVER THE NEXT THREE YEARS IS AROUND R791-BILLION.” – CHIFIPA MHANGO, CHIEF ECONOMIST, SEIFSA 42

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he report, released by the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) in February 2021, provides a comprehensive review of the industry over the past year. “From 1994 to 2008, there was massive infrastructural investment in the economy,” says SEIFSA chief economist Chifipa Mhango. “Coupled with key energy projects like Medupi and Kusile, and the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the metals industry was on the up in terms of demand. But ever since such projects dried up, we’ve seen a drop in investment, employment and capacity utilisation in the sector.” He says government infrastructure plays a key role in addressing the industry’s challenges. “The good news is that infrastructure investment over the next three years is around R791-billion. That is quite massive, but still a drop from the previous three years – understandable in the context of government fighting COVID-19 and poverty.” Other challenges facing the sector include unreliable energy supply, rising energy costs, increasing logistical costs and inefficiencies, supply of materials, increasing imports, a lack of skills and our declining trade position, says Mhango. He says government has acknowledged the scale of the energy supply challenge. “The cost element is not being addressed, however. We tried to oppose Eskom’s recent 15 per cent tariff increase, but failed.” He also says that getting power through municipalities in some areas increases the price. Transnet’s tariffs are also increasing, says Mhango. “This is an area where other countries with whom we are trying to compete are heavily subsidised. It is cheaper to bring steel in from China than to transport it across the country.” Regarding imports, Mhango says government has provided tariffs to protect the steel industry. “However, the 10 per cent tariff across some of the key products we’re trying to protect is way below what other countries like the US have to protect their local industry.” He says customs officials are also poorly trained in differentiating between key items at borders. In terms of labour, it’s an issue of both skills and an ageing workforce. “As much as the industry is doing its best to offer on-the-job training and internships, intake of graduate engineers is low. There should be a way to encourage the younger generation to enter the metals industry.” SEIFSA analysed South Africa’s metal trade across the world and found the only region where we have a positive trade balance is in Africa. “The recently launched African Continental Free Trade Agreement is an opportunity for government to play a key role by supporting industry in Chifipa Mhango growing its footprint on the continent,” says Mhango.

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GL A S S

NOW YOU SEE ME…

Glass that goes from clear to opaque in one touch? It’s no longer science fiction, writes JAMES FRANCIS

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t is like a scene from a science fiction movie. Push a button, and the clear glass of a window turns opaque. But smart glass is very real and can be distinguished as passive and active. Passive smart glass changes of its own accord, usually to counteract light or temperature, while active smart glass changes when someone applies an electric current to it, producing the satisfying obscuring effect mentioned earlier. Yet smart glass is more appealing for its environmental controls than button-push privacy. “Ordinary glass can be responsible for up to 40 per cent of the energy lost through doors and windows in a building,” says Clive Engelbrecht, technical manager for glazing at the PG Group. “High-performance glass products offer an elegant way to achieve better energy efficiency by reducing the cost of heating and cooling.”

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IS IT AFFORDABLE? Smart glass varies in manufacturing and materials used. Prices vary as well, but it is often an expensive investment due to the technical complexity of making such panels, which also cover different traditional formats such as double glazing (two separated layers to manage heat and sound). Active smart glass is the priciest, followed by passive smart glass and smart film, a more affordable laminate product that layers over a regular window. Smart glass prices have been dropping as the technologies mature, yet in South Africa, these products can still be pricey due to import logistics. “Over the last decade pricing has decreased with this solution,” says Adriaan Vlok, owner of smart film provider Presentation Solutions. “But importantly, due to the weakness in the rand-dollar exchange rate and the logistical cost of shipping rather large units to South Africa, we have only seen a marginal cost reduction in this technology.” Yet as companies look to lure back employees or use their real estate more creatively, smart glass can offer significant enhancements such as allowing 70 per cent of light without heat or UV radiation. Active or passive, glass or film, this technology is no longer a Hollywood dream. It’s even got a coronavirus angle, says Vlok: “In current times, you can take the hygienic factor into consideration. It’s a great fit for corporations and any public areas with no cloth or dust-attracting material.”

“HIGH-PERFORMANCE GLASS PRODUCTS OFFER AN ELEGANT WAY TO ACHIEVE BETTER ENERGY EFFICIENCY BY REDUCING THE COST OF HEATING AND COOLING.” – CLIVE ENGELBRECHT, TECHNICAL MANAGER FOR GLAZING, PG GROUP

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F OOD A ND BE V ER AGE

TAKE A BITE

Food and beverage manufacturing did better than most during the pandemic. But it’s not all good news, writes JAMES FRANCIS

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SAFETY FIRST Health and safety garnered even more attention than usual during the pandemic. Fortunately, numerous food and beverage manufacturers could rely on their food safety management systems to meet new COVID-19-related requirements. Since handwashing and some types of personal protective equipment are already mandated in the sector, switching more stringent behaviour wasn’t too – to LISLE CLARK, CEO, TWIZZA hard. However, it was costlier, says Linda Jackson of Food Focus. Most safety protocols impact restaurants and other hospitality businesses. For example, Sun International mandates that its restaurants use reservations to manage capacity limits, and orders should be placed on a table and not directly into a customer’s hands. The South African Property Owners Association offers comprehensive guidelines for food and beverage sellers. Its advice includes separate takeaway areas, regular employee screening, and abiding by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

We’ve adapted our soft drinks to local palates and taste preferences.”

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total sales in manufacturing dropped by a slightly smaller margin of 9.9 per cent. The food and beverage sales increased marginally by 0.1 per cent in 2020 [according to StatsSA].” That nudge hides two divergent trends. Food sales are up (6 per cent), whereas beverage sales, including alcohol, dropped by 14 per cent. It helped that parts of the sector were designated essential services. Local agriculture supplies also had a good year due to recovery from recent droughts and very favourable growing weather.

A RECOVERING SECTOR? Generally speaking, there is an optimistic tone around the sector’s recovery. For example, the nascent and struggling local craft brewing market became creative with marketing and online sales. South Africa’s local food and beverage manufacturing capacity was also a boon: even as global supply chains stuttered, some local operations could pick up the slack. More significantly, local food and beverage manufacturing didn’t stall, and many constituents made significant upgrades to domestic supply chains. But enthusiasm for local sourcing hasn’t quite materialised into tangible cases, says Linda Jackson, food safety and training consultant at Food Focus, a local start-up providing food sector resources. “We have seen a lot more chatter on our social feeds

DID YOU KNOW?

There are more than 1 800 food production companies operating in South Africa, but the top 10 make up more than 80 per cent of the industry’s production revenue. Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

about buying and supporting local, but there is also limited supply. It is not possible to ‘grow’ the additional supply in the limited time. In the longer term, we need to be looking at food security policies that rely less on foreign supply where possible to avoid these kinds of supply chain disruptions.” For many, the fallout from COVID-19 became a catalyst to modernise their systems. Digital supply chains are all the rage and the pandemic has encouraged their wider adoption. An example of this is how retailers increasingly connect with suppliers using electronic data interchange – paperless processes to manage and speed up orders. But there is blood on the floor. The sector’s employment numbers have shrunk, and its SMEs are suffering because they often don’t have the sophisticated supply chains that major retailers could rely on, according to research by Dr Reena das Nair and Andrew Bowman. Many involved in feeding schemes, hospitality and catering also took massive blows.

“THE TOTAL MANUFACTURING SECTOR WAS MORE SEVERELY IMPACTED BY THE PANDEMIC, WITH ACTUAL PRODUCTION LEVELS DROPPING BY 11 PER CENT WHEN COMPARING 2020 WITH 2019.” – PROFESSOR FERDI MEYER, MD, BUREAU FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL POLICY

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s we all stay home, cutting down our patronage of restaurants and cafes, the food and beverage sector’s fortunes have decreased. According to a Deloitte report, COVID-19: Impact on food & beverage consumer products companies, reduced consumption and disrupted supply chains are the main antagonists. The overall impact is tricky to measure, says Professor Ferdi Meyer, MD of the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy. “The total manufacturing sector was more severely impacted by the pandemic, with actual production levels dropping by 11 per cent when comparing 2020 with 2019. However,

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PUTTING THE BEST FOOT

FORWARD SAFELY

From wearable technology to advances in footwear, new innovations are ensuring that safety workwear provides better protection than ever. By LISA WITEPSKI

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oe-capped boots may be the best-known safety footwear, but the fact that they leave the tender bones of the metatarsal vulnerable to falling objects means that they are not the most efficient, says Thandi Momubaghan, founder and CEO of Khulunathi PPE specialists. In fact, says Deane Nothard of the BBF Safety Group, the area is gaining attention as a growing number of case studies highlight the importance of metatarsal protection, especially for workers in industries such as mining. This has led to the development of new technologies. One such development is a gel that hardens on impact, moulding to the shape of the footwear to create a lightweight “shoe”. The drawback, though, is that this gel does not consistently pass tests specified by 20345 regulations. “That’s why, at present, the

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traditional metaguard is still preferred – albeit with improvements in shape and weight,” says Nothard. The metatarsal guard is another option, says Momubaghan. Such guards are available as internal or external protection, with a new variety – the external/internal super met guard – gaining traction. “We’ve moved on from the days when external guards made of impactresistant plastic were the only choice. These sat on top of the shoe, covering the entire metatarsal region as well as the toes and were made of hard plastic. The next design featured a leather-like material that was covered with resistant plastic inside. This had the advantage of protecting the foot from sparks and heat, but the hard plastic meant that it was heavy and uncomfortable, and because the guard covered the shoe down to the sole, it often caused falls.

Thandi Momubaghan

“We’ve moved on from the days when external guards made of impact-resistant plastic were the only choice.” – Thandi Momubaghan, founder and CEO of Khulunathi PPE Specialists

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SAFETY WEAR This led to the development of internal guards, along with improved external guards, which are lighter and more flexible.” Momubaghan predicts that further innovations are certain to come, as worker safety becomes a greater priority. Sisi Safety Footwear’s Predahni Naidoo agrees, pointing to changes in the growing focus on safety shoes for women as an example. This was prompted by the introduction of the Mining Charter of 2004, which stipulated that 10 per cent of the mining industry’s workforce should be female by 2009. Despite this, a 2012 Unisa report found that most personal protective equipment (PPE) was neither suitable nor safe for women, hence Sisi Safety Footwear’s focus on creating footwear that accommodates the narrowness of the female foot. This is important, Naidoo explains, as a shoe that doesn’t take this unique characteristic into account leads to an oscillation that places strain on the ankle, ultimately, impacting the knee and hip.

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WEARABLE TECH Wearable technology is an especially dynamic area of the industry, says BBF Safety Group’s Nothard, and there are some exciting offerings emerging. These promise to benefit a number of industries not only from a safety perspective, but also in terms of the traceability of PPE. Sensors able to monitor gas, heat and chemicals are a case in point, but Thandi Momubaghan of Khulunathi PPE Specialists warns that these technologies are not without drawbacks. “The process of developing wearable tech should be a multidisciplinary collaboration between experts in medical science, engineering, textile and material science. The usability of wearable tech should be evaluated and accepted in terms of safety and comfort for the human body. It should also be able to pass a water test – for example, what would happen to a person wearing gear fitted with electronic components if it started to rain?” Wearable tech doesn’t come cheap, especially if it is to be worn companywide, she says. However, technologies may help to bring down the number of work injuries, which are also costly for a company. “I think it’s important for companies to weigh these costs against each other,” she says. Cost notwithstanding, the idea is attractive to South African companies – evidenced by the many private sector enterprises investing significantly in R&D, each hoping to make a discovery that would lead either to the development of new products and processes or improve existing ones.

Deane Nothard

WALK THIS WAY

Such injuries are a common hazard for people who spend long hours on their feet, Nothard acknowledges. That’s why podiatrists’ insights are vital when developing safety footwear, from the time the shoe last is designed. “Soling technology has progressed to provide sufficient cushioning to protect the knees and joints, along with arch support through insoles and orthotics,” he says. However, the considerations don’t end there: the incorporation of materials like colloidal silver and antibacterials is crucial for people working in environments where fungal infections are a risk. Again, mining is a prime culprit here, especially since conditions make it impossible to remove the boot to air the foot. Nothard says that another solution lies in moisture-wicking sock technologies. A new consideration, from an orthopaedic perspective, is the natural pump action of the foot – a key mechanism for driving blood through the body. “Designing the bottom of the shoe to aid this action can hold significant benefits for health conditions like diabetes,” says Nothard.

“SOLING TECHNOLOGY HAS PROGRESSED TO PROVIDE SUFFICIENT CUSHIONING TO PROTECT THE KNEES AND JOINTS, ALONG WITH ARCH SUPPORT THROUGH INSOLES AND ORTHOTICS.” – DEANE NOTHARD, BBF SAFETY GROUP PPE DEMAND BY THE NUMBERS According to data from the Trade and Industrial Policy Strategy, between April and June 2020 South Africa imported 23.2 million kilograms of nonwoven fabrics to be used in the production of face masks and other essentials. That’s not to say that the country was entirely reliant on imports. The BBF Safety Group increased its capacity threefold to produce PPE, while other companies shifted focus to answer demand. JMP is one such organisation: prompted by a need to keep factories operational during the pandemic, it moved away from its usual manufacturing activities, centred around automotive and engineering, to produce 315 000 face shields. These success stories are encouraging, and possibly a good omen for South Africa’s manufacturing industry, says Nothard. He notes that the BBF Safety Group partnered with many local suppliers to produce PPE, creating new opportunities for these companies. Moreover, the masks were manufactured entirely out of locally sourced materials. There is a dark edge to this silver lining, however. Nothard says the lack of understanding of industry regulations is concerning. “South Africa adheres to the European standards, rather than American. This is important because the N95 is an American standard; the South African equivalent is the FFP2,” he explains. Unsurprisingly, the market was flooded with masks as companies identified a potentially lucrative niche. However, many of these had not been regulated or homologated by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications, as required. The implications are far-reaching: beyond providing protection against COVID-19, FFP2 masks are frequently used to filter chemicals and harmful gases in industries like mining. It is, therefore, critical that technical properties such as breathability comply with regulations.

WHAT’S NEW IN NONSLIP When it comes to nonslip technology, the development of lighter-weight polyurethane soles is big news, says Thandi Momubaghan of Khulunathi PPE Specialists. She’s also excited about the use of direct-attach construction, as well as cement construction techniques that improve the resilience and elasticity of the soles and mid-soles of safety boots. This is an area that may increasingly come under the spotlight, says Deane Nothard of the BBF Safety Group. He points out that the SRC slip rating included in the 20345 regulations is becoming a norm, where once it was an exception. However, it is important to bear in mind that SRC measures are based on tests on smooth surfaces. While this may be appropriate for industries such as hospitality or in hospitals where extra grip is needed, it is not necessarily the correct measure at a construction site or open cast mine. Here, stability in uneven terrain is the main consideration. At the same time, the South African Income Tax Act’s R&D Incentive, designed specifically to encourage innovation, may also be contributing to the interest in developing wearables, Momubaghan says.

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INF R A S T RUC T URE

DID YOU KNOW?

The Infrastructure Fund creates an opportunity for more partnerships between government and the private sector through the use of blended finance. To fast-track these projects, government has committed R100-billion to this fund over the next 10 years. It will support projects in the energy, water, transport, ICT and social sectors. Source: National Treasury

BREAKING GROUND

PAVING THE ROAD

TO RECOVERY Just how crucial is infrastructural development to South Africa’s sustained economic recovery? ANÉL LEWIS reports on government’s Sustainable Infrastructure Development System

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De Lille confirms that the projects are at various stages of implementation. “Timelines for the start of construction are dependent on securing funding and financing for the projects from the fiscus or financial markets. These are ongoing and very positive discussions.” Work has started on some of the projects, including Mooikloof, Green Creek, Joe’s Place, and the Sondela Phase Two (45 per cent in construction) human settlement development projects. Construction on the upgrade of the N3 between the Dardanelles interchange and the Lynnfield Park interchange between Cato Ridge and Pietermaritzburg, which will create an estimated 700 job opportunities, is also imminent, she says.

FAST FACT

By the end of June 2020, Patricia de Lille, 276 projects, with an investment Minister of Public SHOW ME THE MONEY value of R2.3-trillion, formed Works and Government’s vaccine part of the Economic Reconstruction Infrastructure, explains roll-out plan, expected and Recovery Plan. The following that the methodology to cost over month, 50 strategic integrated applies specific R20-billion, is projects and 12 special projects, admissions criteria that likely to have little enabling over R340-billion in new focus on the economic, material impact investment, were gazetted. social and strategic on its infrastructure Source: Department of importance of each development targets, as Public Works and Infrastructure project. “Social facilitation financing has been allocated is a key component linked to specifically for these projects, the engagement with surrounding says De Lille. “Government has communities where the project is to be committed to a R791.2-billion infrastructure implemented. This identifies the skills investment drive. We are already partnering and training needed to ensure local with the private sector and other players to roll community members benefit from the out infrastructure through initiatives, such as infrastructure development.” the blended finance through the Infrastructure The DPWI last year opened a skills portal Fund, which was operationalised in where unemployed graduates could register for August 2020.” work opportunities created by the infrastructure Other finance models include blended investment plan projects. “We have to financing, public-private partnerships, and recognise that we do have the skills in our build-operate-transfer (BOT) or build-owncountry, we just need to pull them together to operate-transfer (BOOT) for large-scale achieve our infrastructure development goals.” infrastructure projects. Green bonds are also De Lille says the department is also tapping an option for projects that meet the criteria, into the expertise of the private sector. adds De Lille. “The National Treasury has also provided R440-million for project preparation – a key area we need to get right to ensure that projects are de-risked from the start and implemented on time and within budget,” concludes De Lille. – PATRICIA DE LILLE, MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS AND INFRASTRUCTURE

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OVID-19 has been devastating for many sectors of the economy, but it has also provided an opportunity to deal with challenges already evident before the pandemic. Billed as a “reset for the South African economy”, the national government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, launched in October 2020, aims to “create an environment supportive for sustained and accelerated economic recovery”. As such, infrastructure has been identified as a key driver of investment and growth, and Treasury has set out a pipeline of projects that will create jobs and address spatial inequality. These will also be used to transform social planning by integrating communities and making employment opportunities more accessible. Patricia The Infrastructure and Investment de Lille Office in the Presidency, together with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), has therefore developed a new method of planning and implementation, known as the Sustainable Infrastructure Development System (SIDS).

“GOVERNMENT HAS COMMITTED TO A R791.2-BILLION INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT DRIVE. WE ARE ALREADY PARTNERING WITH THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND OTHER PLAYERS TO ROLL OUT INFRASTRUCTURE THROUGH INITIATIVES.”

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PERS ON A L H YGIENE

INNOVATING WITH FABRIC

New fabric innovations in the diaper and sanitary towel market are ensuring local producers compete internationally. THANDO PATO speaks to local manufacturers

core foundation to produce starch. We are currently in the final such products. Often stages of product development with cotton-like synthetics are a leading retailer in South Africa,” used instead; however, says Russell. proper cotton provides South Africa’s panty liner the best quality.” SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION market was worth more than Parker says that sustainability R400-million in 2018, with is important to the sector COTTONING ON expected growth of in terms of product and While cotton may be 9–10 per cent per year. production. “With the rise of a key ingredient, it is at Source: Engineering News environmentalism, there is a drive least 50 per cent more for conservation and eco-friendly expensive to use in diapers, A LOT TO ABSORB harvesting as well as eco-friendly says Russell. This is why some As manufacturers compete with one another methods of production. But in the manufacturers may opt to use they need to consider these customer end, to ensure a level of quality or build, alternatives that offer the same preferences, which is why local manufacturers certain materials are non-negotiable in the properties as cotton. have responded to international trends in the production process. Parker says that the COVID-19 pandemic production of their products. Mark Russell, “However, facilities are always trying to has had an impact on prices and availability CEO of National Pride says: “National Pride has improve production methods, without affecting of all raw materials used in the production already responded to customers’ preferences the quality of the product, and innovating in of diapers and sanitary towels. “The recent by introducing breathable fabrics in our terms of carbon footprint, and more digitalised lockdown resulted in a loss of cultivation as well Cuddlers range of diapers and pants. We are and efficient methods of production.” as production. There was a sharp increase in very proud of this, given that we are the only the price of raw materials for the production of South African brand found in all major incontinence and sanitary products.” retailers and wholesalers.” ENTERING THE PPE SPACE In light of this cost discrepancy, Raaes Parker, marketing and communications Given National Pride’s expertise manufacturers around the globe have manager at The Nappy Warehouse, says in manufacturing using nonwoven innovated and found alternative materials that that organic cotton and fluff are important materials and, as an essential service offer the same properties as cotton, but at a components in achieving the goal of breathable provider, it was able to convert one of lower cost. “National Pride currently has the and absorbent products. “Organic cotton as its existing diaper machines to produce capability to utilise both sustainable disposable well as fluff is an important component of all three-ply surgical masks certified to diaper raw materials made from bamboo incontinence and sanitary products, as this SANS 1866-1 specifications for the and biodegradable materials made from corn material provides breathability, comfort and the country’s healthcare workers. “We already had all the required technical skills and manufacturing expertise,” says Russell, “and we were also able to create employment for an – RAAES PARKER, additional 30 South Africans.” MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER, THE NAPPY WAREHOUSE

FAST FACT

“THE RECENT LOCKDOWN RESULTED IN A LOSS OF CULTIVATION AS WELL AS PRODUCTION. THERE WAS A SHARP INCREASE IN THE PRICE OF RAW MATERIALS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF INCONTINENCE AND SANITARY PRODUCTS.” 52

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bsorbent, kind to the skin and odour-controlling are just some of the qualities that customers across the globe require of disposable diapers and sanitary towels. Interestingly, when most of us hear “disposable diapers”, we think of babies and toddlers, but a large part of the global market for diapers is adult diapers used in cases of incontinence and immobility, especially among the elderly.

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