Young engineers re-thinking greener logistics

Young engineers re-thinking greener logistics

The South African logistics industry is becoming increasingly aware of the need for greener supply chains, and who and what technology can be accessed to not only decrease demands on the environment, but also possibly influence the total cost of ownership.

The PneuDrive Challenge 2014 Engineering Design Competition, sponsored by SEW-EURODRIVE and Pneumax, has welcomed the involvement of engineering students from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) to this year’s national competition. This year NMMU students will join young engineers from five other South African universities who have been challenged to use their academic ability and youthful creativity to design solutions that can contribute to “Greener Warehouse Logistics Systems”.

The World Economic Forum emphasised in the 2013 Outlook on the Logistics and Supply Chain Industry report the need to be able to adapt logistical systems to climate change. The report was not only about how global warming is influencing climate change and how logistics needs to go greener, but also about how climatic stress will influence the location of future logistics systems. Appropriate skills and technology that will be able to ensure continuity and productivity in selected regions will naturally play an important role in the decisions required to identify sustainable sites and regions.

Efficient and effective logistics is a critical service that South Africa will need to offer in the future in order to stay viable and meaningful to global supply chains. It is here where the sponsors of this engineering design competition believe in the relevance of creating learning opportunities that will accelerate the business impact of student engineers about to enter the market.

PneuDrive Challenge Road Show Visits NMMU

In late April 2014, the PneuDrive Challenge team, made up of business and engineering experts from SEW-EURODRIVE and Pneumax, visited the NMMU campus to introduce the fundamental elements of the learning opportunity and the competition guidelines. The aim of the PneuDrive Challenge, a competition which was set up in 2008, is to give the best mechanical, electronic and mechatronic engineering students a chance to use their talent to bring together engineering theory, the latest technology in drive engineering, pneumatics and business reality.

More than 40 third year NMMU students who are specialising in Mechatronics were taken through the structure of a suggested project plan and introduced to the latest drive and pneumatic technology that could be used in the warehousing and logistics industries. Industry mentors have been made available and students have until 13th October 2014 to submit their design ideas. By challenging students to design and propose innovative greener solutions for the warehousing and logistics industry, SEW-EURODRIVE and Pneumax believes that this is a small, but powerful step towards preparing young engineers who will quickly make a difference in industry.

Practical Learning Platforms Critical

In order to be successful in the competition students will need to display engineering and design competence as well as understand the need to reduce demands on environmental resources. The business value of mitigating risk is an additional element of the competition. These are all important business skills required for the logistics industry, but unfortunately very difficult to teach in undergraduate studies.

Rene Rose (General Manager: Communications – SEW-EURODRIVE) believes that “the PneuDrive Challenge opens a window for young engineers to show that they have the potential to implement systems that could improve logistic efficiencies while reducing the risks of environmental pressures on current businesses. The competition is a powerful platform that not only broadens a student’s frame of reference, but highlights the need for future engineers to combine creative engineering design with business thinking.”

The winners of the competition receive a ten day all expenses paid trip to Germany and Italy where they will have an opportunity to present their designs to the head offices of the sponsor companies. SEW-EURODRIVE and Pneumax also offer more than R300,000 worth of equipment to competing universities to ensure that future students are afforded the opportunity to experiment with the latest in drive engineering and pneumatic technology. 

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