Brett Wallace

Festo celebrates over 45 years in South Africa

In celebration of over 45 years of successful growth and development in this country, managing director of Festo South Africa, Brett Wallace paints a picture of the company’s rich history, global heritage and ongoing pursuit of new improved automation solutions for Africa.

Festo was established in 1925 in a small city in Stuttgart, Germany by Albert Fezer and Gottlieb Stoll. The company began by creating tools for woodworking and quickly earned a reputation for providing its customers with cleverly designed and robust products. “These products and solutions challenged conventional thinking about the woodworking industry and it is that same philosophy that underpinned the founder’s approach when they recognised the potential of industrial automation and established an automation product range,” says Wallace.

Festo South Africa opened its doors in 1973. “Throughout this time, we have remained committed to delivering the best possible South African expression of the global Festo mandate,” he continues. “This means building a presence that is dependable, sustainable and focused on achieving growth not only for our customers, but for the economy in general.”

In 2015 Festo launched another differentiator, investing more than R5 million in an application centre at its Johannesburg headquarters. This boasts state-of-the-art electric handling and vision systems, allowing customers to physically test any application in a controlled environment in order to confirm important details such as speed, accuracy and cycle time.

In addition to its South African presence, Festo has been actively present in southern, central, east and west Africa, supplying manufacturing industries across the continent with cutting edge control solutions for over four decades.

Festo’s focus areas, or business units, act cohesively to provide customers with single source best-fit solutions in pneumatic factory automation, electric automation, process automation, customised solutions and skills competence development. These enable Festo to offer automation solutions to support the widest range of industry sectors, which include automotive, food and beverage, packaging, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, petrochemicals, oil and gas, water and wastewater, mining and power generation, mobile pneumatics and electronics.

Besides having an expansive product range, Festo offers a basket of value add services. These include:

• Complete support from its dedicated contact centre, technical support engineers and the global support community.

• An efficient user-friendly online shop that takes purchasing convenience to new heights.

• Software tools for design solutions and detailed product specification.

• Qualified, professional and passionate people who are industry sector specialists.

• Project conceptualisation, design, simulation and validation including energy-saving solutions.

• World-leading technical education from hardware through to skills development and curriculum supply development, competency evaluation and investment return.

• An average stock holding value of R150 million and world-class logistics capabilities to ensure speedy delivery throughout the continent.

• Local manufacture of a wide range of non-standard cylinders allowing individual customisation.

• Repair services for a variety of components, ensuring maximised product life cycle and cost efficiency.

• Turnkey systems ensuring optimum solutions and best total cost of ownership.

In a message of celebration, Wallace has the following to say:

Over the past 45 years we have seen multiple competitors come and go. We have retained our position of strength and our success as an organisation has been propelled by hard work and commitment, coupled with a determination to understand market trends as well as current and future needs of our customers.

Despite the economic challenges of the past five years, our proactive visionary strategy has allowed us to grow our revenue, market share and sales volumes across all sectors. This is testament to a customer-centric business model that is flexible and adaptive to market requirements, business processes that leverage global efficiencies and a dynamic and competent team of motivated employees.

Being a global driving influencer at the forefront of Industry 4.0 has further enhanced our productivity, profitability and employability. Festo takes a holistic view of the changes within the realm of automation, whilst considering non-technological aspects such as the interaction between humans and machinery as well as the critical need for training and qualification. We embrace this new revolution and look forward to the creative opportunities it promises to bring.

Our passion for innovation, combined with a dedication to learning and skills development has kept us in the lead. This attitude has not only been beneficial to us as an organisation but to the thousands of people who make use of our technology and solutions every day.