Sheet metal fabricator Fabrinox welcomed the manufacturing industry’s stakeholders to its Paarl premises for its 2016 Manufacturing Industry event, held last month.

The open day included factory tours, exhibits by key Fabrinox suppliers and partners, and a presentation that was designed to inform and advise manufacturers about the latest technology and national and regional support structures, as well as business opportunities.

Fabrinox MD Andre Visser explained that the event offered interested parties the opportunity to learn from Fabrinox’s success while networking and interacting with key industry stakeholders.

Event attendees included company owners and buyers, as well as production and product engineers, original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) representatives, industry body Southern African Stainless Steel Development Association (Sassda), the Department of Science and Technology’s tooling initiative, Technology Localisation Implementation Unit (TLIU), and Western Cape trade promotion agency Wesgro.

Visitors from the local business community were also able to learn about the company’s latest technological investments, including its new machinery and software, namely the Trumpf fiber laser cutting machines and the latest in enterprise resource planning software.

Visser commented that the two-day event’s predominant aim was to improve skills, facilitate industry collaboration and educate companies on the opportunities available in the industry and its potential.

While outlining the company’s success, he emphasised the benefits of engaging with local, regional and national government, specifically industry support initiatives. He cited the Department of Trade and Industry’s Manufacturing Competiveness Enhancement Programme, which enabled Fabrinox to expand and increase its production capacity.

Further, the Firm Technology Assistance Package, provided by the TLIU, enabled Fabrinox to improve in numerous areas, such as job creation, production efficiency, black economic empowerment and skills development.

“Companies should form partnerships with associations and industry bodies such as Sassda, as this ensures they are informed about advances, hindrances and opportunities affecting the industry,” Visser stated. Moreover, Sassda and other industry bodies actively marketed their members and lobbied for the industry’s interests.

Visser highlighted the benefits of engaging with OEMs, including skills and technology transfer, citing the company’s involvement with machine tool manufacturer Trumpf Germany. He noted that several Fabrinox employees received advanced programming and machine operator training at Trumpf Germany on the latest technology investment. The skills transfer enabled Fabrinox to improve operator capability, thus improving operating efficiency.

He added that improving compliance with standards and applying for international accreditation provided more opportunities, especially in terms of exports – hence, Fabrinox’s drive to attain EN15085, the European standard for manufacturers that weld railway vehicles and components.

Fabrinox’s main factory comprises about 5 000 m2 of floor space, with an additional land for expansion. Its second premises, also located in Paarl, will form the manufacturing base of a new company, Andani Futuretech Manufacturing, formed through the partnership of Fabrinox, machining manufacturer Daliff Precision Engineering and investment company Adinah Capital Partners. The company aims to provide manufactured products that will allow for the development of smart infrastructure and smart cities.