Top brass develop plan for Auto sector growth

David Powels (MD of VWSA), Mcebisi Jonas (MEC for DEDEAT, Eastern Cape), Roger Pitot (NAACAM Executive Director) and Arno van der Merwe (Plant Manager, Mercedes Benz), along with other industry and government decision-makers met last week to shape the plans and activities of the newly formed Eastern Cape Automotive Cluster.

Top leaders from industry and government outlined key focus areas and ratified numerous proposed projects that are set to boost  the Eastern Cape Automotive sector at a Steering Committee meeting of the newly formed  Eastern Cape Automotive Cluster.

Meeting at the Beach Hotel in Port Elizabeth last week,  executives representing industry bodies, OEMs, manufacturers, Eskom, supply chain and government expressed common resolve and urgency to implement projects that had the potential to reduce costs for manufacturers and increase the general competitiveness of the supply chain.

Cluster Project Leader Lance Schultz said the meeting acknowledged that there was enormous potential to reduce the costs of doing  automotive business by, for example, pooling appropriate resources and strategically managing the movement of components between various suppliers and OEMs in the region.

“The Steering Committee and sub-committees have already begun to work on several projects in the areas of logistics, skills development and supplier development, focusing first on low hanging fruit ’’ Schultz said.

Projects relate to lean manufacturing, energy savings, logistical efficiency, skills development, procurement and others aimed primarily at reducing costs within the supply chain and improving the competitiveness of the Eastern Cape automotive sector, regarded as the engine room of the industry in Africa.

“But the most important action of the Cluster right now is engaging the entire supply chain – every automotive related business, to incorporate their needs and views towards ensuring that this Cluster is driven by industry, which itself identifies the benefits of synergies available.”

A workshop for the all automotive suppliers was planned for August 29.

The AIDC has been appointed to assist the Cluster in a secretariat capacity, while a Cluster Programmes Manager, independent of the AIDC, had also been recruited to assist in the management and co-ordination of programme identified by industry through the Cluster.