Stand-alone machine tool and related industries exhibition – time to communicate. Nasrec, Johannesburg will be the venue for metalworking supplier and manufacturing companies to exhibit their products from 9 to 12 May 2017.
Metalcasting is a tough business. Price pressure from customers and competitors, rising labour costs, quality problems and a lack of qualified personnel pose challenges for executives. However, these challenges must not distract you from the main task at hand, which is long-term survival and growth.
Long-term business success for a foundry requires diversification of markets and the customer base, optimisation of the product mix, a well established controlling system, process optimisation, careful personnel selection for the sales department and workforce education. Every foundry undertakes activities in these areas, in one form or another, but in most cases these are only punctual, non-systematic actions. The key to success is a permanent self-analysis and sustainable improvement steps. In the casting business, huge leaps are impossible. We need to meticulously improve every area, every process and never stop asking self-critical questions to avoid coziness and overconfidence.
Often, metalcasting facilities are overexposed to one certain market. For instance, if 70% of sales go to different customers in the same field, then it might become dangerous when that segment of industry has a downturn. Should this market stagnate for longer than expected, banks may cut credit lines and the foundry could face difficult times to survive.
Successful foundries, like many other businesses, serve different markets and have a wide range of customers. Over the years, these companies have conquered new market segments while at the same time they did not drop old customers just because it was possible to earn more money in new markets.
Successful foundries readily take on new challenges and are willing to take new products into their manufacturing programme, despite the high risk of scrap with new parts. At the same time they invest in their business. They purchase new equipment, introduce advanced processes and increase production. As a result, such companies learn to produce more complicated parts and improve their market position while at the same time, because of modernisation or automation, save on costs and ultimately the bottom line.
It is simple though. There are a few main factors responsible for the success of a foundry: delivery performance, productivity, quality, price, added value and diversification of product and client.
It is my experience and opinion that the majority of foundries in South Africa are secretive and do not like to communicate with the outside world, have no sales people on the road and rely on the owner to bring in the business or orders to be placed with them, do not budget for marketing or advertising, do not create the exposure to be visible to a wider audience and generally lack the inclination to promote their brand – their business – and its support network. It is far easier to remain in a comfort zone rather than venture into that unknown territory. Or is it too daunting to envisage the repercussions as a result of possibly making a mistake or to stomach the risk?
There could be many reasons for this and one could generalise. However, I believe that one of the biggest reasons is that an engineering inclined person runs most foundries. We all need our engineers and technical people, as well as our academics or institutional individuals, but it is a known fact that they lack the networking, marketing or sales skills in an industry environment. So many times I have heard complaints from suppliers of how they battle to get foundrymen to attend an important event that can only be beneficial to their business, whether it be to introduce a new product, process or to get the information for them to navigate around the numerous regulatory requirements and governance processes these days. Unless of course it is a golf day or a hunting trip!!
Stand-alone machine tool and related industries exhibition – time to communicate
For thousands of years, humans have made decorative and useful objects by melting metal and pouring it into moulds. Now, industrial casting processes are available to produce a variety of complex parts economically in different metals.
Sometimes cast parts can be used in the form they leave the mould. Often, they need to be machined to provide sealing surfaces or threaded holes. In the machine shop, cast parts can present challenges. To machine them, it helps to know about the casting process and the physical characteristics of castings, so you can adapt your machining practices accordingly.
When you are going to machine a casting, it’s a good idea to begin communicating with both your customer and the foundry as early as possible. Try to get as much information as you can up front. Even an hour talking about the component will save time down the road.
Taking all of this into account the resurrection of the stand-alone machine tool and related industries exhibition – Machine Tools Africa 2017 – presents an ideal opportunity for foundries and their suppliers to communicate with the rest of the metalworking industry and showcase their capabilities.
We all know of the link between foundries and machine shops. The synergies that exist between these industries, heightens the fact that they (the foundries and machine shops) cannot operate in isolation and need to communicate with each other.
Better than a conference
Machine Tools Africa 2017 is expecting between 10 000 and 15 000 visitors during the four day duration of the exhibition from 9 to 12 May 2017. Compare this to say exhibiting at a conference that will take place in a hotel environment with maybe 130 delegates attending.
The all encompassing exhibition for the niche, but very important, area of industry that we operate in is being endorsed by the Machine Tool Merchants of South Africa (MTMA) and organised by Specialised Exhibitions. The MTMA are encouraging all the related suppliers and manufacturers to participate so that a united and professional front is put on for the metalworking industry. This includes tooling, software, metrology, additive manufacturing, foundries and many others.
Machine Tools Africa 2017 will be unique in the sense that it will showcase live working machinery including milling, turning, metrology, tooling, laser cutting and other sheet metal and plate operations, to name but a few. The exhibition will also bring together the industry’s finest manufacturers across a range of technologies.
At last count Hall 6 had 80% confirmed bookings and Hall 7 was 70% full, with a number of international companies booked. This is very encouraging and an exhibition that you must bookmark in your diary.
The exhibition will take place at the Nasrec Expo Centre, Johannesburg, Gauteng.