Innovative thinking disrupts business-as-usual in the engineering industry

JG Afrika has embarked on a drive to position the company at the forefront of changes underway in the engineering industry.

Chris Wise, a Technical Director who is leading this innovation drive, says that disruptive innovation has displaced established companies, significantly reshaped traditional industries and created opportunities for completely new markets for products and services.

“JG Afrika has retained a competitive edge and remained relevant over the years through an ability to find innovative solutions to complex challenges. This drive to revolutionise the way in which we innovate will ensure that we remain the vanguards of the industry,” Wise says.

His team comprises “Innovation Facilitators” who have been tasked with collecting new ideas from staff. Key to this process is creating an environment that enables creative thinking to thrive.

Jefrey Pilusa, a JG Afrika Associate and Innovation Facilitator, explains that voluntary brainstorming sessions and “think tanks” have been set up to promote the transfer of knowledge between technical disciplines and, just as importantly, to incorporate diverse views from various departments.

“Ideas range from “low-hanging fruits” that can be implemented swiftly and with minimal effort through to more ambitious programmes and projects with a significantly larger impact that will be realised over the medium- to long-term. The areas of innovation being targeted include those that will improve efficiencies and broaden professional services. This is in addition to embracing disruptive technologies to find ways of harnessing them to the benefit of our clients,” Pilusa says.

Tim Davidson, a Technical Director of JG Afrika, says energy is a sound example of a JG Afrika market segment that continues to undergo change.

“Decentralised electricity generation is a growing global trend that is challenging traditional centralised generation models. South Africa is gradually following suit, with more businesses exploring self-generation to mitigate their exposure to load shedding and decrease their carbon footprint,” Davidson says.

Moreover, JG Afrika has played a leading role in assisting companies, municipalities, schools and universities to build resilience to water restrictions.

Work undertaken for the International School of Cape Town still stands out as a sound example of JG Afrika’s stellar work in the field. When all three phases of the project are implemented, the school will be able to achieve savings in water of between 95% and 98%.

The company also designed and is implementing innovative means of reusing campus greywater in “fit-for-purpose” applications at Stellenbosch University.

Richard Emery, a JG Afrika Executive Associate, says that other potential “quick wins” include innovative integrated waste-management solutions to assist industries derive sustainable value from their residue streams to achieve a more circular economy.

“Being a company that is involved in strategy planning, design and implementation, JG Afrika view ourselves as ‘Co-Creators’ with clients. We, therefore, need to drive innovative design approaches and thinking to be a part of our outcomes. Every step of project development has a need for innovative co-creation,” Emery says.

Paul Olivier, Managing Director of JG Afrika, says that remaining relevant throughout the firm’s more than 97 years has required continual innovation.

“We therefore have a good history from which to continue to build on. In today’s fast paced development, we have now provided a wonderful broad platform from which to fully capitalise on new ideas and developments to create new opportunities and innovative solutions for our clients” Olivier concludes.