SJM Flex Is Kaizen Champion

MARCH 27, 2015

SJM Flex was named Kaizen Champion at The Manufacturing Seminar and Awards function hosted by the Automotive Industry Development Centre Eastern Cape at The Radisson Hotel, in Port Elizabeth, on Thursday.

In the presence of Eastern Cape manufacturers, largely representing the automotive supply chain and international manufacturing experts, SJM Flex, manufacturers of flexible, stainless steel couplings for the automotive industry, claimed the top award for their winning idea or Kaizen, a Japanese word meaning “change for the better”. 

Tenneco Emissions Control was first runner up and second runner up was Veyance Technologies for achieving significant improvement in manufacturing measured by Original Equipment Efficiency (OEE), the key component of which is machine downtime.

Kaizen is a business philosophy or system that is based on making positive changes on a regular basis, to improve productivity.

It was appropriate then that representatives of Toyota and the Chief Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) coach of the Japan Manufacturing Advisory Council (JMAC), regarded as the global authority on TPM, Mr Jun Uchida, were also present.


SJM Flex achieved an improvement in OEE of 40% since joining the AIDC Eastern Cape’s TPM Cluster programme and made annual savings of R12 million over the past year with savings for the first quarter of 2015 at R4m.

"The improvements are highly significant given the cost pressures put on manufacturers and are essential to our global competitiveness," said SJM Flex Works Manager, Craig Ehlers.

“TPM has been highly effective in reducing downtime at the plant by empowering machine operators to take ownership of the optimal efficiency of their machines and we are very proud of our operators,” he said

As a wholly owned agency of the ECDC, the AIDC EC introduced TPM into the South African  Automotive Industry as one of a basket of services provided to assist Eastern Cape manufacturers.

AIDC EC MD Lance Schultz said the primary aim of the TPM methodology was to reduce machine downtime in the automotive supply chain by 80%.

“The principles of lean manufacturing and TPM are applicable across all manufacturing sectors and the AIDC EC therefore invites all manufacturing companies to engage us," Schultz said.

TPM Project Manager Zahier Ebrahim said research showed that, operationally, equipment availability was the biggest issue facing manufacturing suppliers.

“This is addressed by the AIDC’s  TPM programme, which has developed into one of the longest serving clusters pertaining to the field."

“The success of the TPM programme can largely be attributed to the investment made into it by the AIDC.  Cluster participants have access to a dedicated web portal with resources and access to any number of 45 engineers deployed onto their shopfloor annually at no charge."

The success of the programme, Ebrahim says, “has set the scene for a national continuous improvement cluster”.

Schultz said according to an independent economic impact assessment, in the past financial year the AIDC EC spent R1.6m in grant funding for the TPM programme to leverage R5.1m in production value created, had contributed R2.1m to GDP and created 17 full time jobs.

In addition the participating companies had made audited savings of R9.5m through Kaizens, Schultz said.

Schultz said TPM had become an “essential and highly effective manufacturing methodology for the future of South African manufacturers.”

“Where many other manufacturing companies globally have a competitive advantage as a result of access and proximity to markets or to economies of scale created by sheer volumes, South African manufacturers have to develop other areas of competitiveness, a key aspect of which is operational efficiency," Schultz said.

Main image: AIDC EC MD Lance Schultz congratulates Nelson Hlahlatyi and Joe Louw of SJM Flex on being named Kaizen Champions at a Manufacturing  Seminar and Awards Function. Second photo: Nelson Hlahlatyi, Joe Louw and Pieter Jansen van Vuuren of SJM Flex celebrate after their company was named Kaizen Champions at a Manufacturing  Seminar and Awards Function. Images: supplied.