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Machine Tools Africa a game changer

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Minister Jeff Redebe addressing delegates at Machine Tools Africa Minister Jeff Redebe addressing delegates at Machine Tools Africa

The decision to make Machine Tools Africa (MTA) a standalone expo has paid off hugely for exhibitors and visitors alike, with exhibitors praising the quality of the visitor, and visitors impressed by the number and standard of the exhibitors.

Machine Tools Africa is a Machine Tools Merchants’ Association of South Africa (MTMA) event in partnership with the organisers, Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery. This is the first time in 20 years that MTA has had its own expo. The exhibitors felt that, as a standalone exhibition once again, MTA targeted the correct market. Visitors knew what they wanted from the show and were knowledgeable about the industry. Over 5900 visitors attended MTA to source new products and services and to update on latest industry trends and technologies. Of these visitors, 77% either made or strongly influenced purchasing decisions.

The chairman of the MTMA, Hans-Peter Neth, confirmed that all exhibitors were very positive about the exhibition results and the number and quality of visitors they had.

“Machine Tools Africa has proved to be a very worthwhile show. Not only did we sell some machines within the first two days of the expo, but we generated good leads. It has let us reach the people we want to in an effective manner,” says AK Tokwe, Commercial Manager at CSI (CNC Service Integration) in partnership with Samsung.

Mike Lee, sales director at Retecon/Puma Machine Tools confirmed the good turnout and the positive results achieved during the exhibition. It is the knowledgeable customers visiting the exhibition which made a huge difference to the positive mood at the exhibition, he said.

Nelson Rodrigues, Sales Executive at Craft Machine Tools agreed, saying that “this is one of the best expos we have participated in. We have sold machines and generated good leads.”

WD Hearn Machine Tools has participated in the MTA trade show since 1997 and Managing Director Ray Cooper, says that a standalone expo was definitely the right decision. “The right people, the decision makers, have been coming through. We sold three machines at the expo and received lovely leads.”

The importance of the machine tools industry to the country was demonstrated by a visit to the expo by Jeff Radebe, Minister in the Presidency. Following a walkabout at the expo, Minister Radebe addressed expo exhibitors and visitors.

Tools are the key to translating the potential of the manufacturing industry into a successful game changer for the country and the continent he says. “The tool making industry has a greater role to play throughout the continent in partnership with other countries to encourage regional growth. Locally the industry is a vital base for many manufacturing industries, such as the automotive industry.”

As such the industry has been earmarked as an important sector in the National Development Plan (NDP).  “Not only does the industry address industrial development as a long-term growth path for the country as it makes the shift from a commodities-based economy to exporting a higher share of global products, but the country has major infrastructure programmes, including the expansion of the country’s energy needs, that will place demands on the machine tooling industry.”

However, to be successful the industry needs to overcome some challenges. “Without equipment that is relevant and of high quality, the industry will find it difficult to compete with countries such as Germany,” the minister adds.

In 2016, the industry’s contribution to the country’s GDP was 12%, one percent lower than 2015. Despite recording growth in 2016 (0.6%), the industry contracted by 3.1%, with investment in the industry in 2016 expanding by only 0.6%. The sector is expected to grow by half a percent this year. Research shows that only 80% of the installed manufacturing capacity of South Africa is being utilised says Bonginkosi Mamba of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

He was one of several speakers that took part in the Seminar Programme at the expo, hosted by the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineers (SAIMechE).

“As the industry has declined so has its employment rate. This is unfortunate as the industry is viewed as a key employer of semi-skilled and unskilled workers. There is also a skills shortage on artisan, technical, engineering and project management levels,” he adds. 

Skills and employment are a key area that needs to be addressed by the industry. Technology was another area addressed, in particular automation.  Automation and mechanisation are only a threat if they replace people completely, says Sello Mosai, executive manager, Productivity SA. “The challenge to upskill people, and create machines and artisans here instead of importing them. It is the opportunity to create more employment in the sector.”

Gary Corin, Managing Director, Specialised ExhibitionsMontgomery says it is of significance for a government minister to attend a show such as this. “The Minister’s presence is an endorsement of the importance of the manufacturing sector to the country and indicative of the government’s belief that manufacturing is essential to this country. It also demonstrates the level of its commitment to the industry’s future development.”

Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery is a member of the prestigious Montgomery Group and a member of the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO).

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