mobile | classic
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology Magazine

Follow us on:
Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn


Electronics Buyers' Guide

Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2019


From the editor's desk: Innovation + education + incubation = a winning formula?
EMP 2018 Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook, News

There’s never been a better time for someone with an innovative idea to see it realised with a working design, but successfully launching a product in a crowded market has arguably never been harder. What’s more, while there will always be a place for the traditional electronic engineering fraternity and the established manufacturing sector, a perfect storm of factors is fuelling the rise of the everyman as a real force for innovation.

First of all, the ‘makers’ community of hobbyists and tinkerers is flourishing thanks mainly to simple-to-use, highly capable prototyping platforms such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi (to mention just two). Not only has their hardware power advanced to the point where they can legitimately be described as credit card-sized computers, they are also supported by massive open-source communities who are more than happy to share their ideas and software with others. Such is the popularity of Raspberry Pi in particular that Premier Farnell recently sold its ten millionth unit after less than six years, and now sells over 50 000 per week globally. So-called ‘Raspberry Jam’ events have also sprung up in dozens of countries (including South Africa) as get-togethers for members of this community to show off their designs.

Secondly, knowledge is now freely accessible by anyone willing to search for it, apply their minds to understanding it, and experiment. Gone are the days when university hallways and dusty old libraries were the exclusive entry points into the arcane engineering arts; access to the Internet gives anyone and everyone an opportunity to learn. Tertiary institutions still have their place, of course, as they provide an unmatched method of planning, structuring, imparting and testing advanced, relevant knowledge.

A decisive factor, though, and one that people of a technical bent tend to struggle with, is commercialisation – even the greatest idea in the world is worthless if it can’t be developed into an actual product, or if nobody wants to buy it. This is where incubators can play a part, providing a means of filtering out the marketable ideas from the otherwise, and advising and consulting on product industrialisation.

Just one example of this is Savant, a hardware technology incubator, which has partnered with the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) as an enterprise development partner. In October, Savant announced that, since its first incubation client in 2007, it had secured R106 million in investments from private investors and government agencies such as the IDC, TIA and DTI, and the startups on its books had earned revenues in excess of R2,51 billion.

That is not to say it’s easy being a startup. In November, Ventureburn released the results of its latest survey of 260 tech startup founders. The survey produced a host of facts and figures – here are just a handful that stand out: 72% of founders were male, 44% were white, 31% were black, and 65% were aged between 25 and 35. Gauteng has gained ground on the Western Cape as a hotbed of innovation, being home to 44% and 47% of startups surveyed, respectively. Most identified their biggest challenge as raising enough funds, with 40% being self-funded and 51% expecting to run out of funds within just 3 months. Only 10% of respondents said they were turning a profit, which is down from the 17% reported in a similar 2015 survey. So, opportunities aside, money talks and there is clearly not much to go around, despite the private and public incubation efforts.

So where does this leave electronics design and manufacturing as an industry? Some might argue that the sector loses out when the tools for innovation are put in the hands of the man in the street, but in the long run I believe it can only be stronger for it. A culture of science, technology and innovation is not easy to create – just ask the South African government – but it is a slowly rising tide that is hard to stop once it gains momentum.

Brett van den Bosch

Supplied By: Technews Publishing
Tel: +27 11 543 5800
Fax: +27 11 787 8052
  Share on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn    

Further reading:

  • Electronics news digest
    30 April 2019, News
    South Africa • The CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) – which will turn 75 in 2020 – has plotted a new strategic direction built around the vision of accelerating socioeconomic prosperity ...
  • From the editor’s desk: The unseen role of component distributors
    30 April 2019, Technews Publishing, News
    FAEs play an essential role in bridging the engineering world where things are designed and made, and the business world where big decisions are taken and money changes hands.
  • Is the supply chain broken?
    30 April 2019, Electrocomp, Diel Met Systems, ExecuKit, NuVision Electronics, RF Design, News
    The world’s insatiable demand for electronic goods has created a monster: a supply chain that spans the globe and relies on the entirety of our collective knowledge and experience in the pursuit of industry.
  • Win an AVR-IoT WG development board
    30 April 2019, News
    Dataweek readers are being offered the opportunity to win a Microchip Technology AVR-IoT WG development board (AC164160) to make it easy to deploy IoT devices to Google Cloud IoT Core’s artificial intelligence ...
  • 4IRSA launches digital economy summit
    30 April 2019, News
    The launch of South Africa’s first ‘digital economy’ summit, endorsed by Cabinet, was announced at the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Hub by the minister of telecommunications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, ...
  • Local manufacturing key to economic growth
    30 April 2019, Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery, News
    The manufacturing sector in southern Africa is primed to take a more active role in supplying goods to the continent and internationally. Characterised by a pioneering, diehard attitude, this sector ...
  • Appointment
    30 April 2019, News
    Farnell element14 has appointed Theresia Hartslief, who has extensive industry experience, to be its sales representative in South Africa.    Theresa can be contacted at +27 83 412 5918 or
  • Hisense grows SA plant investment
    30 April 2019, News
    Chinese electronics manufacturer Hisense has injected a further R72 million into its refrigeration and television production lines at its Atlantis factory in the Western Cape, in a move that signals the ...
  • Continued success for Zetech’s stencils division
    30 April 2019, Zetech, Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services, News
    Best known for supplying SMT (surface mount technology) equipment and consumables for printed circuit board assembly for 33 years, Zetech is enjoying success with its more recently established stencils ...
  • Innovation hub established by SANRAL
    30 April 2019, News
    A Technical Innovation Hub (TIH) has been established by SANRAL (South African National Roads Agency) to address the challenge of rapidly evolving smart road technologies and global innovation. Driven ...
  • Electronics news digest
    27 March 2019, News
    South Africa Electronic Industry Supplies has gained the South African distribution agency for Stannol, a German company specialising in products for the electronics manufacturing market. Stannol’s product ...
  • Avnet hosts another successful technical seminar
    27 March 2019, Avnet South Africa, This Week's Editor's Pick, News
    The event gave delegates the opportunity to learn about some of the latest technologies available from Avnet and its suppliers, and to network with representatives of the company and with each other.

Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronics Buyers’ Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual


    Classic | Mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.