CASE IN POINT | SEW-EURODRIVE
by Andrew Ngozo
Innovation Leader in Engineering Solutions
With a presence in 46 countries worldwide, SEW-EURODRIVE is an engineering solutions provider that is on a level of its own and set to remain at the top through unparalleled innovation and technology. SEW-EURODRIVE partners with its clients to give the end user full flexibility while optimising production and output in a factory or plant.
Ute Schoeman, Managing Director of SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa, says that, in partnering with the client, SEW-EURODRIVE ensures that products, be they geared motors, drive automation or industrial gears, are specifically designed to the client’s requirements. “Our track record in this regard speaks for itself, because most of the automotive plants such as BMW, Volkswagen and Audi are 99% standardised on SEW. Even most of the food and beverage plants in South Africa and abroad boast SEW-EURODRIVE geared motors and drive automation. We have gone from being just a components supplier to being a complete system supplier,” reveals Schoeman.
Measured against International Standards
SEW-EURODRIVE not only leads with regard to innovation and technology in order to remain the market leader, but also has top-end skills such as mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, electronic engineers and mechatronic engineers. “We have products in all those facets of engineering,” she points out. Clearly, SEW-EURODRIVE has to have capacity from within in order to thrive in this industry. Thus, SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa sends its personnel to Germany for training periods as long as nine months, “where they get the best training so that we can guide the end users of our products as they strive to optimise their plants and achieve their objectives”. At any given time, the German offices have about 350 engineers whose primary objective is to keep up with trends, to innovate, and to improve the product and experience for customers.
With this in mind, SEW-EURODRIVE is not only a market leader, but also, Schoeman believes, a role-player in enabling local and African original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to compete on a global scale. “This is why we still see a lot of equipment and machinery imported into the continent. So, if we can get our OEM’s to interact with us pertaining to the latest trends and training, they will definitely be able to design products that can be sold to the world market, because we must not be so naïve as to believe that Africa should still be the dumping place for obsolete equipment,” she indicates.
Although located in South Africa, SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa is not rated on South African standards. Instead, Schoeman reveals, it is measured against its international counterparts based on international standards. According to her, not only has SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa been rated as the equivalent of European-based companies, but it also sometimes comes out on top. “The local SEW-EURODRIVE has demonstrated a high level of self-sufficiency. We recently received international accreditation for our design abilities, which some Eurodrives do not yet have,” she emphasises.
Service Portfolio Complete Drive Service (CDS)
SEW-EURODRIVE is positioning itself on the international front to be the global solutions provider that caters for any, and all, clients’ needs through its business units, namely Basic, Classic, Variolution, Maxolution and Heavy Industries Solutions. “Our business is such that a South African application solution can be standardised and be rolled out to the rest of the world. Most of all, it can be custom-made to the customer’s specifications. The sun never sets on SEW-EURODRIVE, for somewhere in the world someone is awake and working on the same product,” shares Schoeman. According to her, the South African operation has received tremendous support internationally and, “that makes all the difference”!
In order for an enterprise to innovate and remain a market leader, Schoeman stresses that training is a critical part of the operations. “We need highly skilled personnel in order to keep abreast of the latest trends and thereby best serve the customer. Therefore, with the Service Portfolio CDS, we are giving an assurance to our clients that they can count on us at all times of the day and throughout the week. In that respect, the South African plants are specifically and strategically located to serve the customer,” she points out. She adds that the company’s website is but one customer portal, as there are smart phone applications where the customer keys in the serial number of a product and, in turn, gets the complete history of that particular product. Schoeman explains that SEW-EURODRIVE empowers customers to make informed decisions in order to run their business. Thus, in turn, SEW endeavours to learn as much about a client’s business as possible.
“When a client chooses us, they can get condition-monitoring equipment that allows us to put in place not a reactive but a proactive system, depending on the client’s wishes, so that they are ready for any failures,” says Schoeman. “This is just SEW-EURODRIVE ensuring that the customer is well taken care of as our products don’t have failures, because they are of the best quality. From the moment we supply a product it could be linked to a software programme that allows us and the client to monitor the condition of the equipment. We are not seeing much of this mode of operation in African countries, as, too often, a manager realises that his or her staff is not skilled when the [manufacturing] line fails at some point,” she observes. SEW-EURODRIVE goes so far as to train a client’s employees on how to operate SEW-EURODRIVE products. Schoeman also encourages local and African organisations alike to embrace training, as “training now allows for huge opportunities for optimisation later on”.
SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa has attained the highest levels of optimisation and can do the same for its clients. In the hands of a capable and dynamic leader who believes that there are no short cuts to success, the organisation is set to climb to the highest level of success through being an innovation leader in engineering.
SEW-EURODRIVE Drives the World
The majority of SEW drive components are manufactured centrally to a single standard in SEW-EURODRIVE global production facilities, and final assembly as well as custom modifications are performed in regional assembly plants located close to its customers around the world. This day-to-day contact with national and local markets is vital to SEW-EURODRIVE’s success.