South Africa’s energy crisis and load shedding have put a damper on manufacturing operations. To stay afloat, manufacturers must find ways to adapt, maximize efficiency, and minimize the impact of power cuts.
The Energy Challenge
Manufacturing is a significant contributor to South Africa’s GDP and requires substantial energy. The frequent power cuts due to load shedding have made it difficult for operations managers to meet demand and maintain operations. Many manufacturers lack the capital to purchase or hire backup generators, resulting in delayed customer orders.
Adapting Production Scheduling
In response to the unpredictable nature of load shedding, manufacturers must:
- Maximize production capacity during power availability.
- Prepare for operational disturbances on the shop floor.
- Adopt reactive scheduling by running double shifts when power is available.
These strategies ensure optimal use of available capacity, timely delivery, and cost-effective operations.
Planning for the Unexpected
To safeguard against load shedding, South African organizations should:
- Implement comprehensive risk management procedures.
- Adopt business software to generate flexible schedules, considering people, machines, tooling, materials, and electricity supply.
- Reschedule shifts to compensate for lost time.
The Role of ERP Systems
An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can help manufacturers be more agile and adjust to power interruptions. ERP software automates and integrates core business processes, focusing on effectiveness and simplified success. It allows production managers to adjust schedules in real-time, streamlining various processes such as:
- Procurement of raw materials
- Shifting production cycles
Finding the Silver Lining
To further mitigate the impact of load shedding, manufacturers should:
- Adopt flexible manufacturing techniques and smart supply chains.
- Rely on Eskom’s published load shedding schedule for predictions.
- Return to their ERP system to optimize inventory and drive necessary policies.
While load shedding is a significant challenge, it presents an opportunity for manufacturers to become more creative and agile in their operations. When load shedding is finally gone, imagine what these organizations will be able to achieve.