The Zest WEG Group is positioning itself as a regional hub of WEG, with subsidiary Shaw Controls “set to become the number one panel builder and systems integrator in Africa,” Louis Meiring, CEO of the Zest WEG Group, says. This forms part of the Group’s strategy to ramp up its automation and electrical systems business, with Valter Luiz Knihs from WEG appointed as Group Automation & Systems Director.
“I am very happy to join the team in South Africa and to assist Shaw Controls in particular in delivering full package solutions,” Knihs says. “The strategic focus is for Africa and the Americas to have regional Centres of Excellence in terms of systems manufacture and integration that will service WEG globally. We are working hard on adding more products, having clear pricing and delivery times.”
Shaw Controls will not only be building panels for the local market. For example, WEG could receive an order out of Australia and deem it best that the manufacturing be carried out in South Africa. Ultimately this means full international accreditation for all of the Zest WEG Group’s manufacturing facilities, from Shaw Controls to WEG Transformers Africa (WTA).
Knihs adds: “WEG is committed to being at the forefront of any new standards and regulations, and is in compliance with all certification wherever it operates. This is critical for health and safety considerations, both from a personnel and equipment point of view, which our latest manufacturing techniques take into account.”
The Zest WEG Group is also able to draw on the considerable resources of WEG. Knihs has a team of 70 engineers in Brazil hard at work on the Shaw Controls optimisation and upgrade programme. “We are very excited about the opportunities this presents to raise the bar in terms of skills development in South Africa,” Meiring says.
It was decided to upgrade Shaw Controls due to “some limitations identified in terms of manufacturing, which are essentially around the capacity and size of our facility. The reality we are faced with is that the existing facility needs to grow or we need to establish a new one,” Meiring says.
Knihs explains that he is adopting a three-pronged strategy, namely adding new products (for example 31 kA/15 kV MV switchgear and LV 690 V withdrawable MCCs), increasing productivity and improving quality. “By the early part of 2015 we will have achieved a high level of product and efficiency improvement. We are moving towards the level of being an international supplier.”
WEG is at the forefront of the latest best practices in manufacturing technology. “We are fortunate in that we do not have to start from scratch at Shaw Controls as a result. Our biggest challenge is how to adapt our own manufacturing processes in turn, which has a lot to do with the equipment you have.” The Zest WEG Group sees this as a major opportunity, and is gearing up for significant investment in the latest technology.