A few years ago, Quick Press Manufacturing in Alrode, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, made a smart decision to abandon its old-fashioned, manual manufacturing method in favour of using modern machinery.
The results were instantly positive – more people employed, increased productivity, higher revenues and, sweetest of all, quality living for both employers and employees.
Formed in 1994, Quick Press Manufacturing is owned by Harry Potgieter and Ken McAllister and employs 148 people. The company specialises in sheet metal manufacturing, and it does laser cutting and punching, steel fabrication and just about anything to do with converting raw steel products into powder-coated and finished metal products.
Potgieter acknowledges that maintaining a competitive edge in manufacturing requires the right machinery, and that means embracing the latest technology.
His son, Deon, the company’s technical director, explains: “The main challenge is keeping up with technology. In our business, you cannot lag behind. Otherwise you are going to fall short very quickly.”
In August 2012, the company applied for an MCEP grant so it could upgrade its old machinery. When it was paid out in May 2013, the grant had an immediate impact on the business.
The company bought heavy-duty equipment to bring it into the modern age, including a laser cutting machine. This acquisition has allowed the company to now do laser cutting of steel, brass, copper, wood, Perspex and plastics.
“[MCEP] allowed us to expand our business. It allowed us to employ new people and provide training for them, which has obviously helped us and the staff as well,” says the younger Potgieter.
“It has definitely made a difference. We have come out of an era where everything was done step by step without the aid of modern-day machinery – it’s allowed ourselves a lot more time for, I’d say, quality living.”
Potgieter believes Quick Press Manufacturing would never have been able to upgrade the business without the MCEP financial assistance.
“The Industrial Development Corporation and the dtic are really making a difference in helping us grow our business. The business has definitely been enhanced and our growth has been phenomenal – an increase in turnover and has also allowed us to up production quite a lot.”
Programmer draftsman Jovan Sales adds: “With the new machines we can do basically anything. It has improved on the manufacturing side, the design time – all the basic things, like doing the programming side. It has improved very much.”
His sentiments are echoed by machine operator Siphiwe Tshabalala who says he has learned much at Quick Press Manufacturing in terms of his work. On a personal level, he can also feel the difference. “My life has changed a lot. Now I am a married man and I have two children, and even my children have learned more at school because of this job. I am proud of my job,” Tshabalala says.
Supervisor and machine operator Joseph Kumbane agrees that life is now easier. The Amada machinery is more user-friendly and “much faster” than the old equipment he used to work on.
“With the help of the IDC and the dtic I think within the next five to 10 years the business will grow and we will up our turnover by at least another 30 percent,” says Potgieter junior.
“I recommend that other businesses should apply. It allows you to grow your business and it’s definitely the way to go.”