It is never just about supplying products or technical support to the market. It is also about implementing best practice across all companies and in particular manufacturing operations.
Louis Meiring, chief executive officer of the Zest WEG Group, says that it is this operating philosophy that has seen the Group’s holding company, WEG Brazil, continue to invest in the local operation’s manufacturing facilities. Significantly, Zest WEG Group will be exhibiting its locally manufactured custom equipment at Electra Mining Africa 2016.
Meiring says that the most recent investment has been in best practice production control programmes that will allow the Zest WEG Group manufacturing operations to improve processes thereby accelerating production and meeting the shortened lead times which have become the norm in the market.
He explains that decision to introduce WEG’s manufacturing planning and execution system into the South African operations forms part of the global sustainability strategy. “It was always the intention to implement best practices at these facilities with the long term objective of enabling these manufacturing plants to produce product for the international market,” he says. Eventually, WEG will be able to manufacture at any of its centres worldwide.
“Zest WEG Group as an organisation is very excited about this step and particularly the very clear benefits that our customers will see,” Meiring says. “It will make a massive contribution to the success of our local manufacturing facilities and put us into the international space.”
Juliano Vargas, Zest WEG Group logistics and operations director, explains that the manufacturing planning and execution system being used is well proven at other WEG manufacturing facilities.
“The system facilitates full control of all our manufacturing operations, and importantly provides accurate cost and time control. Access to this level of information allows a high degree of certainty and creates an environment where customers can have complete confidence and comfort,” Vargas says.
“Continuous improvement programmes have ensured that the system functions optimally and what is most important is that the system implemented at the South African manufacturing operations has been localised,” he explains. “This means that South Africa was able to draw on the experience of all WEG facilities with the result that the system considers the exact Zest WEG Group operational conditions while still achieving best practice criteria.”
Zest WEG Group currently operates four separate manufacturing facilities being Shaw Controls, WEG Transformers Africa Wadeville, WEG Transformers Africa Heidelberg and Zest WEG Group Generator Sets Division.
Vargas says the system will enable greater and transparent communication with customers in terms of the status of each order. “Access to information is in real time and is so specific that at any point in time a customer can find out the exact stage at which the product is during the manufacture process,” he says.
This is most significant especially given the dynamic nature of business at the moment where manufacturing facilities often receive change notices or order amendments even once the production process has begun. Being dynamic, the system allows for the simulation of the change to be done and an accurate prediction made with respect to the impact in cost, time and order conclusion.
Commenting on the actual implementation, Vargas says that the planning stages started mid-2015 when the alignment between the Zest WEG Group and the WEG teams was made.
In November 2015, a team of skilled practitioners from WEG Brazil visited the South African facilities to assess these operations and establish the status compared to WEG global best practices in manufacturing. This took place over a three week period to ensure in-depth assessment of all four facilities.
Comparisons were done with WEG facilities in Colombia, Brazil and Mexico. These operations produce the same or similar products which meant that the manufacturing processes are the same and similar. These facilities already complied with WEG best practices, and Vargas says that some had done so for more than twenty years.
“The resultant gap analysis between the Zest WEG Group status and that of WEG’s best practices formed the foundation from which the implementation stage began,” Vargas says.
The gap assessment was discussed in depth with WEG Brazil and the implementation plan was developed in conjunction with a local partner in South Africa. The implementation phase started in March this year and consisted of a couple of facets. A team of practitioners from Brazil that had already implemented similar systems at other WEG facilities joined the local team, and the system went live mid-June with the support of the full team.
Vargas pays tribute to the implementation team and all at the Zest WEG Group manufacturing operations as he underscores the fact that on day one of going live it was possible for all facilities to operate normally.
“We cannot say it was effortless, but we can say that the implementation was thorough and customers have already started realising the benefits of the significant investment WEG has made in the four manufacturing operations,” Vargas says. .
Meiring concludes by confirming that being responsive to the market has always been the cornerstone of Zest WEG Group’s success on the African continent. “It is this ability to adapt our business that we believe will enable us to become the supplier of choice to the market.”