As metalworking industries develop, so do associated industries and products. One such industry is abrasive manufacturers, and it is expected that numerous new initiatives and developments will be seen throughout 2023. These are five predictions for the year ahead.

1. More efficient utilisation of resources in the face of load shedding

South Africa’s ongoing electricity crisis will require manufacturing businesses to prioritise the development and training of their workforce as well as the effective allocation and use of available resources, to further improve their overall operational efficiency and productivity.

All indications are that load shedding has already had a negative impact on manufacturers. According to Financial Mail, the local motor manufacturing industry is “bleeding money and jobs because of load shedding.”

A National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (Naacam) study into the effects of load shedding found that the biggest impact is to small and medium component suppliers and if the current high levels of load shedding continue, losses to volumes of assembled vehicles will become commonplace. The study found that 30% of Naacam members had to suspend production at various times between October and December 2022 putting exports and new business opportunities at risk.

2. Continuous research and development

Research and development will be particularly important for abrasive manufacturers in 2023 as it will enable the improvement of existing products and create new tool solutions with enhanced capabilities. The advancement of technology enables abrasive manufacturers to develop modern and ergonomic abrasives that offer improved performance and longevity.

Innovative abrasives can help manufacturers streamline their manufacturing process by reducing the number of processing steps and consumables required for a specific application. By reducing processing steps, not only do manufacturers improve productivity, but occupational health is also improved within the production environment. This is done by reducing an operator’s exposure to noise, dust and vibration.

3. Leveraging experience and expertise

Industry-specific application, equipment, and material knowledge are highly important considerations when manufacturers select a suitable abrasive supplier, especially when they are faced with new challenges or projects.

Sales representatives play a vital role in addressing unique challenges faced by customers. Their expertise and industry specific knowledge can help manufacturers identify and resolve application problems faster by offering tool solutions that meet the customer’s unique requirements.

4. Increased uptake in 4IR technology

The use of robotics and automation in the industrial manufacturing industry will continue to gain traction as a means of improving efficiency, productivity and output. In South Africa, the implementation of this technology is particularly relevant due to the disruption caused by the ongoing electricity crisis to the regular operations of companies. These novel abrasive applications offer several benefits, including:

Increased efficiency:

The integration of automation in the manufacturing process allows machines to handle basic, routine tasks quickly and efficiently, freeing up human resources to focus on higher-value activities that require human expertise, ultimately leading to increased productivity and improved operational efficiency.

Increased precision:

The implementation of programmable automation in manufacturing can improve precision as it enables machines to execute tasks with a high degree of accuracy, making it ideal for producing componentry that have tight tolerances.

Improved safety:

The integration of automation and robotics promotes a safer working environment by reducing the risk of injuries. By allowing machines to perform dangerous tasks or work in hazardous environments, it minimises the exposure of human workers to these risks, thus improving safety in the workplace.

As the technology becomes more widely available and cost-effective, manufacturers will be looking to adopt these applications in order to gain a competitive edge.

5. Reducing costs by using high-performance abrasives

High-performance abrasives are a cost-effective solution for South African manufacturers looking to improve their operational efficiency and reduce costs. The durable nature of these abrasives allows manufacturers to complete tasks with greater speed and accuracy with the added benefit of reducing costs.

With South African manufacturers facing the challenge of loadshedding and subsequent loss of production hours, a range of high-performance abrasives can assist them to be as productive as possible and ensure efficient usage of available resources such as electricity.

About PFERD-South Africa

PFERD has a team of Application Specialists and Technical Sales Advisors who are readily available to evaluate a company’s needs and applications. Through proper testing and analyses, they provide expert guidance on the most cost-effective solution that will meet the customer’s specific requirements.

Through their PFERDAcademy, PFERD provides operators of abrasive products with the necessary training and skills to improve their knowledge and subsequent performance. By equipping the manufacturing industry’s workforce with the necessary skills and knowledge regarding product selection and application suitability, businesses can make the most of their available resources.