The new institute is called the Toyota Wessels Institute for Manufacturing Studies (TWIMS). Photo: Supplied

DURBAN - Representatives from national, provincial and local government, academia and the business sector today welcomed the establishment of South Africa’s newest manufacturing institute.

The new institute is called the Toyota Wessels Institute for Manufacturing Studies (TWIMS).

TWIMS is situated in Kloof, KwaZulu-Natal and will welcome its first group of students in 2019. It has partnered with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) which will deliver the academic programme. 

A team of leading academics led by Professor Justin Barnes, the new TWIMS Executive Director has developed the manufacturing-focused curriculum.

“We believe that manufacturing holds the key to the long-term, sustainable development of the South African and African economy. Unfortunately, this sector’s contribution to our gross domestic product is in decline. We hope to address that by developing a new generation of world-class, business-minded manufacturing specialists,” says Professor Barnes.

The TWIMS campus was officially opened on 26 November. 

In 2019, GIBS will offer a manufacturing focused master’s in business administration (MBA) and a post graduate diploma in business administration (PGDip) at TWIMS. 

TWIMS will also facilitate and host a number of non-academic programmes, including executive development programmes, short certification courses, specialist conferences and thought leadership seminars.

Lastly, TWIMS aims to become the hub for manufacturing research in Africa. For this purpose, it is creating dedicated research fellows and is facilitating links with manufacturing research centres across the world.

Dr Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota Europe and a trustee of the Toyota SA Educational Trust further said, "The creation of a deep manufacturing culture has contributed to the development of Asian economies such as Japan, Thailand and Korea. I believe we need to start building a similarly deep culture of manufacturing – in its widest possible interpretation – in South Africa. The development of this culture can transform South African society". 

While Toyota is globally renowned for its world-class manufacturing practices, TWIMS will cast its net much wider than just the automotive sector. Students are recruited from the full range of manufacturing sectors and associated services. 

Barnes said, "At TWIMS, we hope to showcase some of the best manufacturing solutions on the continent. Our research covers all sectors – from garment making to high-tech manufacturing – and all tiers of academic knowledge on the industry". 

World-class campus

The TWIMS campus is housed in the historic Crowhurst Manor. While the historic sections of the property have remained intact, TWIMS will add an auditorium, and will have classrooms with high-speed links to global academic partners and a modern technology “sandbox” that will allow for the testing of manufacturing concepts on site.

The campus also has a boutique hotel for visiting students and academics, and a coffee shop, exercise facility and library.

Not-for-profit structure

TWIMS was created with funding from the Toyota South Africa Educational Trust, which in turn received its seed funding from the Wessels family and Toyota Motor Corporation Japan.

It is incorporated as a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO), which means that any retained income will be used to fund deserving, but needy students from designated groups who would like to study at TWIMS.

With the creation of TWIMS, the Trust will contribute to each level of education. It underscores Toyota’s belief in the power of education as a pivotal investment in the success of other economic endeavours.

"We trust that our contribution to creating a sustainable and flourishing manufacturing culture in South Africa and on the continent will support the efforts of government and the private sector to develop our economy," said Professor Jonathan Jansen, the Chair of the Toyota SA Educational Trust.

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