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Innovation and efficiency key to success in local manufacturing

Oct 17th 2012, 08:00

Innovation and efficiency key to success in local manufacturing

In the face of an influx of imports from the East putting strain on local clothing, textile and footwear manufacturers, outdoor clothing manufacturer K-Way has successfully adjusted to the challenges of global competition.

“Cheap and often illegal imports from Asia and China have compelled domestic manufacturers to step up performance,” says Cape Union Mart CEO, Andre Labuschaigne. “Because we’ve always refused to compromise on quality, yet offer value for money, our K-Way brand had to evolve in an innovative and forward-thinking way.

He says local manufacturers are competing with the Asian market’s cut-throat prices mainly due to its industry’s low labour costs, large production runs and subsidies offered by the state and other government authorities. However, he believes that price is no longer the only determining factor of competitiveness in the industry.

LEAN Manufacturing Programme
As part of K-Way’s commitment to be in line with international best practise it focuses heavily on waste identification and reduction.

The business is also part of the Clothing and Textile Competitiveness Improvement Programme’s (CTCIP) LEAN manufacturing project, which helped K-Way to achieve the following: the factory’s repair rate has improved from more than 10% to less than 2%; the reject rate has improved from more than 2% to less than 0.8% and employment opportunities increased by 8%, among other achievements.

Government Support
With its factory based in Ottery in Cape Town, K-Way has taken advantage of the Western Cape Government’s funding assistance to the Cape Clothing and Textiles Cluster (CCTC). The CCTC, a partnership between the Western Cape Government and 16 manufacturers in the province, aims to improve the competitiveness of the clothing and textile industry, so as to ensure its future success.

Labuschaigne says provincial government initiatives like CCTC, and national government incentives are essential for success in local manufacturing.

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