Prestigious “Factory of the Year” Competition Postponed

Navigating the impacts of the global pandemic has become the order of the day for the South African manufacturing sector, who demonstrated their resilience with a promising year-on year recovery of 87.9% in April.

The spread of the coronavirus, recent violent protests and looting, and crippling power challenges have caused a slowdown of the sector’s recovery over the past few months.

Mindful of this tumultuous economic environment and the continued health considerations brought on by the pandemic, management consulting firm Kearney have taken a decision to postpone the 2021 ‘Factory of the Year’ competition, traditionally a highlight of the annual Manufacturing Indaba.

The 2021 Manufacturing Indaba will follow in the footsteps of last year’s conference and once again be held as a virtual conference. This option afforded the Indaba greater accessibility than ever before and attracted record numbers of participants. Scheduled for November, this year’s event will provide an inclusive platform for stakeholders to engage and participate in the latest trends within local and global manufacturing.

“The decision to postpone the Factory of the Year competition was taken after much deliberation, with cognizance of the impact on those manufacturers who have already shown interest from previous years and those keen to benefit from Kearney’s assessments and feedback. The competition will resume as soon as safely possible,” explains Frances Phillips, a Manager at Kearney.

Forward-thinking manufacturers have unlocked higher gears of rigor and have expanded their strategic focus beyond the myopic models of yesteryear which were primarily oriented around cost-competitiveness.

This new way of thinking encompasses what some experts have referred to as risk-competitiveness – in which manufacturers work alongside national governments to build resilience and weather any future shocks.

In recognizing the need for manufacturers to build new strategies that will ensure business continuity and limit the impact on industry, society, and the economy as a whole, Kearney in collaboration with the World Economic Forum engaged with more than 400 senior operations and supply chain executives to distill the following best practice responses to assist manufacturing firms to fortify resilience and protect employees:

  • Supply chains should be optimized by carefully managing interdependent levers such as dual sourcing, complexity reduction, and supply chain localization. This would require different approaches, informed by factors like location and economic context.
  • Further investment into advanced manufacturing technologies should be pursued.  During the Covid-19 pandemic innovations in advanced manufacturing and integration of novel technological approaches, proved crucial in ensuring a swift reaction to the crisis, enabling, for example, the rapid manufacture of medical supplies and products.
  • A consistent risk-management system will be an essential mechanism in manufacturers’ toolkits, and many operational models will need to be adjusted to allow for more flexible, decentralized manufacturing.  Decentralizing shortens supply chains and ensures contingencies for localized challenges or setbacks.
  • External relationships must be completely redefined, allowing firms to capture new opportunities through cross-sector collaborations. In addition, product portfolios should be carefully interrogated, to reduce complexity and optimize strategic focus.

“Agility and strategic rigor has seen the manufacturing sector survive and manufacturers have built a level of stability into our supply chains against all odds.

“We encourage all manufacturers interested in participating in the competition to be on the lookout for further announcements of the competition dates and look forward to awarding and celebrating with all future winners of the competition in person,” concludes Phillips.