Embrace automation or face extinction, business urged
05 June 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201914778
IF businesses don’t embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the disruptions that accompany it, they will not survive
That’s the warning from Brian Andrew, MD of RS Components South Africa who said that automation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices were already having an impact on all industries.
“We in SA can see a plethora of benefits. Furthermore, for South Africa to compete successfully in a 4th Industrial Revolution economy, stakeholders across all sectors must work together to drive progress in this country,” Andrew said, adding that it was against this background that the company was exhibiting at this year’s Africa Automation fair.
“We at RS Components, pride ourselves and our brand to share our knowledge and support initiatives that promote, nurture and guide technological-driven programmes from STEM education projects at grassroots level to showcasing what can be done in this connected age at events such as the Africa Automation Fair.”
Now in its 21st year, the fair sees more than 5000 visitors over the three-day event with 120 exhibitors. It is being held in Johannesburg.
Prof. Marcia Mkansi (pictured), an Associate Professor at the Department of Operations Management at the University of South Africa (UNISA) said that South Africa still lags behind world automation leaders such as Germany as China, and India in terms of industrial automation progress.
“We shouldn’t fall behind and become consumers and adopters of foreign intellectual property. We need to see sectors such as mining, agriculture, manufacturing and healthcare innovating to address challenges unique to our continent,” she said.
Mkansi said automation cuts across all sectors, and is not limited to manufacturing or industry.
“Automation is the future – it is the basis of the 4th Industrial Revolution. You see it in the service industry, for example, where airports use scanners instead of staff to check passports, and where restaurants have automated payment terminals.
“To make 4th Industrial Revolution progress, South Africa needs to embrace a triple helix approach in which government, industry and academia make a coherent commitment to work together to support the country’s ambitions. We need more emphasis on STEM skills and innovation development at grassroots level. We need industry and academia to collaborate to ensure that skills meet industry needs,” she said.
She said UNISA was collaborating with the Society for Automation, Instrumentation, Measurement and Control (SAIMC) to introduce South Africa’s first formal automation qualification, to be delivered through the university’s department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.
“Our partnership with Africa Automation Fair is another example of us being proactive in bringing together stakeholders across academia, industry and government to improve collaboration,” she said.
The fair started on 4 June and runs to 6 June 2019.