June 2012: As a leading manufacturer of water reticulation, drainage and pipe-fitting systems in South Africa, DPI Plastics provided a group of 25 post-graduate engineering students from the École Polytechnique de Montréal in Québec with a unique insight into the company’s manufacturing processes, during a site tour which took place in Cape Town on May 9, 2012.
The international visit forms part of the Poly-Monde council world tour, which has involved the selection of a new global destination for engineering students annually for the past 23 years. Poly Monde board chairman Bernard Lamarre highlights the fact that South Africa was selected as the destination of choice for 2012, due to its economic power in the region.
“The South African economy represents a quarter of Africa’s gross domestic product, and the country has in recent years been characterised as a great emerging power, which has been supported by an average annual growth rate of five per cent since 1994. To achieve its full economic potential, South Africa has built solid international relationships, especially with Canada, which is the country’s sixth largest investor – depositing more than CAD 1,8-billion into the economy in 2009.”
DPI Plastics manufacturing and technical manager Peter Strater points out that modern-day businesses are strongly-influenced by new markets that are driven by international competitiveness and globalisation of technologies, which makes it increasingly-important for today’s engineers to be aware of industrial development on an international scale. “The DPI Plastics site tour provided the students with knowledge of the latest developments from an African perspective, opening their minds to new ideas and techniques which they may choose to take home and apply,” he explains.
Strater notes that the students were given the opportunity not only to gain an insight into the manufacturing processes at DPI Plastics, but were also provided with a presentation that informed them of the importance that the company places on its quality control and standards.
“DPI Plastics places a high emphasis on quality, and boasts two ISO 9001 certified manufacturing facilities in South Africa. What’s more, the company is a founding member of the Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association (SAPPMA), which was established to create absolute quality, trust and integrity throughout the value chain of the industry, and DPI Plastics is proud to promote the visions and achievements of SAPPMA to an international audience,” he continues.
Lamarre notes that the École Polytechnique students are aware of the new challenges which face them as they enter a marketplace which is increasingly demanding as result of international competition. “The market is governed by unrelenting technological evolution and by the capacity to adapt to cultural differences, and South Africa has served as the ideal platform for education with regards to these challenges.”
As part of its tour of South Africa, the Poly-Monde mission team visited numerous additional industrial operations in Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria. “During our industrial and ministerial visits across selected areas of South Africa, we aim to create strong contacts with leaders and managers of enterprises, research centres and public administrations. These exchanges allow us to obtain a complete and unbiased portrait of the economic situation of South Africa, which will ultimately enable us to understand the challenges and opportunities that are offered to Canadian enterprises in South Africa,” adds Lamarre.
According to Strater, the students’ site tour at DPI Plastics was an overwhelming success. “All of the students hold a degree in the various fields of engineering, and they all displayed a great interest and understanding in the functioning of DPI Plastics. I believe that the benefits of the visit are entirely reciprocal, as the students will go back home and draw up a comparison report between the engineering sectors of South Africa and Canada, and the findings will help both countries’ respective industries to better streamline their efficiencies through complimentary observations and evaluations,” he concludes.