As water and electricity become increasingly harder to cost-effectively acquire, companies must think about how they can come together to use less resources.
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With current water shortages and another electricity supply scare some months ago, South Africa seems to be faced with a need to solve the water and energy woes. Many solutions have been tried and supported by the government, but few have taken advantage of South African ingenuity and manufacturing capacity.
Where are the eco-heroes?
Why don’t we see an army of local inventors and engineers stepping into the fray to fix matters? South Africa still produces world-class technical skills, and we have our share of innovative brilliance.
The reasons may involve complex considerations like policy, trade or shortage of certain resources. Or the issue may be as simple as using what we have. Isn’t it time inventors and engineers came out of their garages, bedrooms and basements, brought their ideas into the cold light of day and linked up with local manufacturers to bring their life-saving concepts to life?
Related: Water-wise business opportunities in South Africa
Something to offer
The right manufacturers can bring much to the table in the quest to solve water and energy scarcity.
- Supply – manufacturing’s chief value is hard-to-copy mastery of a sophisticated, standards-based discipline. Its biggest contribution can be delivery of solutions that answer market needs for water conservation and renewable energy,andtick compliance boxes.
- Efficiency – less obviously, manufacturers can help with more efficient use of energy and water during production, through constant process innovation.
- Partnership – it is in partnerships that the right manufacturers can add the most value. Often, inventors are start-ups who lack the knowledge or infrastructure needed to commercialise their ideas cost-effectively. Outsourcing it can lift much of the burden.
Business case in point
Grand Tellumat Manufacturing recently agreed to manufacture and supply a hot water tank controller, which seamlessly switches from grid electricity to solar power at appropriate times.
The partnership illustrates that a manufacturer with an all-round service portfolio covering everything from sourcing and prototyping through to testing, packaging and logistics, can help realise and commercialise an idea better than an inventor on his own.
Contract manufacturers also manufacture cost-efficiently at scale, bringing down production and retail cost, while turning out high volumes at the highest standards. This opens world markets that need African innovation as much as we do.
Related: Take steps now to harness resource sustainable solutions
With so much at stake and such potential, it is time innovators and manufacturers partnered in droves to create a culture of innovation. As more ideas become reality for inventors, the public will gain innovative solutions and the country will gain a vibrant industry with technological leadership.