Unlocking available funds to realise new local tooling initiatives remains challenging, despite adequate support from government to ensure a growing fasteners and tooling industry, notes Toolmaking Association of South Africa (Tasa) Gauteng secretary Henk Snyman.
As financial institutions normally undertake a thorough investigation before funding is approved, the approval process is often perceived as being long and criticised as such. It is also true that inappropriate funding can do more harm than good.
Tasa is trying to assist industry members to prepare and apply in good time to avoid valuable business opportunities being missed, as well as to understand the need for proper preparation and timing when applying for financial support from the sources available.
“Increased focus by government and financial institu-tions is being placed on local financial assistance for entrepreneurial development to ensure a growing economy, with increased job oppor- tunities and innovation,” he stresses. Industry members are often not adequately geared to unlock the available funding sources and need assistance in this regard.
The toolmaking industry worldwide tends to consist of technical entrepreneurs who have started new companies. This, Snyman says, is what South Africa needs – more small production companies creating jobs.
He adds that toolmakers have adequate qualifications to create solutions to improve componentry used in the fasteners industry.
Snyman highlights that the South African government, through the Department of Trade and Industry, has several incentives to assist emerging and mature industries. “While there are challenges, government provides enough incentive schemes to encourage tech- nological advances.”
To ensure a growing skills base for the local tooling industry, Tasa, through the National Tooling Initiative Programme (NTIP) and in conjunction with the Gauteng City Region Academy, organises yearly career guidance days at Gauteng high schools, during which learners are informed of the opportunities in the tooling industry, Snyman adds.
Learners interested in the NTIP programme are also taken on company visits to experience what a toolmaker does. “The visits to factories are enlightening and result in appropriate applications for toolmaking apprenticeships being received by Tasa each year.
“The NTIP skills development programme delivers capable toolmakers who can successfully be deployed in the fasteners industry, which has rapidly changing demands, requiring constant innovative solutions,” says Snyman.
Snyman emphasises that the fasteners industry is an integral element of the South African manufacturing industry. “Without all fastener types, such as basic bolts and nuts to more sophisticated applications, the industry will come to a standstill.”
To boost momentum in the South African manufacturing industry, this year’s AfriMold Conference, cohosted by Tasa, focused on critical challenges in the industry and paved the way for improved production standards that will enable local companies in the tool, die and mouldmaking (TDM)and precision engineering sectors to be globally com- petitive.
In a statement released last month, Tasa stated that it was proud to be a cohost of the conference at this year’s fourth annual exhibition, which was held at the Nasrec Expo Centre, in Johannesburg from June 4 to 6.
The conference presented invaluable opportunities for toolmakers and buyers of tooling products to network with key participants in the industry and gain insight into the various training initiatives, based on Tasa’s mission to revitalise the TDM industry.
“The two-day conference exposed toolmakers to management and Tasa support systems to assist them in becoming more efficient and profitable. It also introduced visitors to the mechanics of raising Industrial Development Corporation funding, to initiatives for boosting toolmaking enterprise development and techno- logical advances for machine tool and tooling suppliers,” Tasa reports.
In addition, Snyman made a critical presentation on the second day of the conference, announcing the signature of an agreement with the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP), enabling it to launch a number of tooling clusters, which enable members to gain access to more tooling orders being placed locally. It is expected that this initiative will have a far-reaching and significant impact on the industry in its entirety.
At the AfriMold Trade Fair Exhibition (Stand F32), Tasa featured a sample of successfully introduced visual shop-floor manage-ment systems and a video presentation of its tooling franchise.
Locally manufactured tooling of various types, as well as computer-aided design and machining done by students who are being trained by the NTIP initiative, was also on exhibition. In addition, Tasa’s legal consultant was available to promote the standard TDM contract developed to assist the TDM industry in serving its clients in a more equitable manner.
“Now, more than ever, local toolmakers need to seek out the support of Tasa to help improve their performance for their own benefit and that of the South African manu-facturing industry. As the only event that focuses on this critical aspect, AfriMold offers an integral platform to achieve these goals to make local manufacturing more viable and productive,” Tasa states.
Enterprise Development Programme Launched
Engineering News reported in early June that the NTIP, supported by the Gauteng Tooling Initiative (GTI), in conjunction with Tasa and the Gauteng Department of Economic Development, has launched an enterprise development programme to bring Gauteng tooling manufacturers in line with global best practice and boost their competitiveness and profitability.
This follows the successful roll-out in 2010 of the TDM Powered Programme, an initiative to equip aspiring toolmakers with the skills needed to pursue careers in South Africa’s tooling industry, Engineering News reported.
The first 200 Gauteng-based students from the NTIP will graduate in mid-2014 with an internationally recognised qualification in toolmaking and machining, virtually guaranteeing employment.
Both initiatives form part of the broader drive by the Department of Trade and Industry and Tasa to revitalise the South African TDM and precision-machining sector to meet the tooling demands of local manufacturers. This is driven at national level through the national tooling initiative, otherwise known as Intsimbi, which was established in 2006.
Snyman noted in June that tooling opportunities in South Africa were worth about R12-billion and 80% of tools were imported because local toolmakers do not have the capacity to meet demand. If this business remains in South Africa, it would contribute to significant growth in the sector and create jobs, he said.
Boosting the TDM and precision-machining sector supports government’s National Development Plan. Nurturing highly skilled toolmakers aligns with the aspirations of Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande, as expressed in the 2012 Green Paper on Post-School Education and Training, added Snyman.