The first Factory of the Year award has been presented to Eberspächer South Africa. PHOTO: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's first 'Factory of the Year' award has been presented to Eberspächer South Africa based on an assessment of customer satisfaction, product quality, value creation, economics, agility and innovation, organisers said on Monday.

Judges said Eberspächer, which manufactures exhaust systems, was a highly efficient producer with a balanced score across all dimensions, falling within the top quintile of global benchmarks in terms of quality. Its advanced use of robotics and automation had brought about efficiency gains for the factory in recent years, they added.

'Factory of the Year' is a global annual competition that has been running for over 25 years and is recognised as the toughest benchmarking test for companies in the production arena. It draws on best practices from over 2,000 factories across all industries and over 30 countries. 

The initiative was launched in South Africa in 2018 by A.T. Kearney in partnership with the department of trade and industry, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Manufacturing Circle and Manufacturing Indaba.

Columbus Stainless received an excellence award in large scale production while Nyamezela Metering got a nod in small scale production. The excellence in digitisation award was given to Atlantis Foundries while Nampak won honours for excellence in resource efficiency.

The current dynamics of the globalising world presents a challenge for all manufacturing operations, and specifically within the South African manufacturing environment where a strong sector has immense downstream impact, said Igor Hulak, a partner at A.T. Kearney.

"More than ever, companies have to find the right balance in their manufacturing footprint and global value chain design," Hulak said. "To successfully sustain and grow production, achieving and maintaining world-class excellence requires every manufacturer to relentlessly and continually pursue efficiency improvements."

He noted that nowadays even that was not enough, with the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution meaning the local manufacturing community could no longer shy away from the pace of adoption of related technologies on shop floors, which had been dramatically increasing over the past three years.

"Though the South African sector in general has a relatively wide performance gap to close, we have been very pleased to see that the top awardees in this country can withstand direct comparison with  world class performance and standards  on the evaluated dimensions," Hulak added.

- African News Agency (ANA)