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Electronics Buyers' Guide

Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2019


From the editor’s desk: The unseen role of component distributors
30 April 2019, News

Things are tough out there. That’s the general consensus when I speak to people in the electronics industry (usually off the record). There is no getting away from the fact that there are worrying signs for the industry, and the engineering/manufacturing sector in general, from top to bottom. By the bottom (no pun intended) I mean the foundational level, where the country’s educational and social policies are letting down our youth, our economy and our future egregiously. At the top of the pile (again, no pun intended) we have the policy-makers: I have to hope that for the most part they have the best intentions, but with our news headlines increasingly dominated by revelations of corruption and state capture, it’s hard to summon any faith that they do.

Before I continue, I want to thank the people who volunteered their frank insights for the article in this issue about the local electronics manufacturing supply chain. I must also state categorically that none of the comments or opinions expressed in this column are attributable to, or necessarily shared by, any of those individuals – they are mine alone, but were inspired and informed by those discussions.

South African electronics manufacturers often butt heads with the distributors who supply them with components, mostly when those components are not delivered on time and in full. In our previous issue, we explored that, and some of the other issues faced by said manufacturers, including how they had been affected by load shedding this year. There are two sides (at least) to every story, so for this issue we gave the distributors a chance to have their say, and I hope readers on all sides of the debate will find the article on page 4 informative as part of a broader, constructive discussion.

In my experience, engineers – whether by nature or by training – are a versatile bunch. You can find rehabilitated engineers in jobs spanning the technical and managerial hierarchy and in sectors from entertainment to banking, and everywhere in between – even, occasionally, in publishing.

And then there are the FAEs (field application engineers). Often disparaged by those in the business of actually manufacturing electronic products as nothing more than glorified salespeople or order-takers, their work mostly happens behind the scenes. But let us not forget that these are people with very valuable and rare skill sets, and they 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. Yes, their involvement is self-serving in the sense that they are incentivised to get their suppliers’ products designed into their customers’ products, but name one person who doesn’t work to make money.

As we head into winter and dig our long-sleeve clothes out from the back of the cupboard, at least I have one less worry on my mind: public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has assured the nation that Eskom has no intentions of implementing load shedding this winter… or it will only be a maximum of 26 days of Stage 1… or maybe something else entirely. He can’t quite be sure because generating power for more than 50 million people is, like, really hard and stuff, and is not widely believed to be achievable through well wishes or magic tricks. But he is “hopeful that there will be no load-shedding going forward. That’s if our plans are successful.” Mmmm, we’ll see.

It’s not clear why Gordhan and Eskom have waited until now to snap their fingers and make all that load shedding silliness go away, but hey, let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. Abracadabra! Our government has pulled off a pre-election miracle!

Brett van den Bosch


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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 ...
  • 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.
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  • 4IRSA launches digital economy summit
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    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
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    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.
  • Load shedding’s toll on electronics manufacturing
    27 March 2019, Technews Publishing, Barracuda Holdings, Phahama Systems Development, TraX Interconnect, Production Logix, This Week's Editor's Pick, News
    Dataweek asked some of the local players how the week or so of load shedding in February this year affected them, as well as their forecasts for the future.

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