One of the world’s largest foundry networks, this global castings player and local socioeconomic stalwart is helping to form an innovative future for the auto manufacturing market
Writer: Jonathan Dyble | Project Manager: Kyle Livingstone
There’s never a dull day in the automotive industry.
A sector that’s seemingly in a permanent state of disruptive transition, auto manufacturers are consistently being pushed to new limits by fast-changing consumer needs, evolving technologies and environmental regulations, subsequently meeting demands by continuously raising the bar with ever improving solutions.
And while big brand manufacturers often take the plaudits in the eye of the public, this industry-wide mentality has trickled down throughout a range of different subsectors, now embraced by a vast array of original equipment manufacturers.
“Globally, the auto industry is on the cusp of change, with new technologies and battery driven vehicles being the hot topic of today,” states Mervin Moodley, the CEO of Atlantis Foundries – a South African company changing the state of play in the automotive castings segment.
“Being part of an industry where innovation is the driver is exciting. It allows us to play a part in developing groundbreaking solutions for the rest of the world.”
A key proponent of industry progression, the views of Moodley – an individual who has been with the business for six years – match up with Atlantis Foundries’ wider mandate, mission and ethos focused on combining innovation and operational excellence.
He explains: “The automotive industry maintains the highest of industry standards. The servicing of premium brands can only be successful if a culture of excellence is adopted, and this is what we strive to achieve.
“Innovation has also been a key part of our success. I believe that we are pioneers of the “smart foundry” in the way that we have embraced the fourth industrial revolution, using big data and artificial intelligence to improve our quality and efficiency.”
Putting such approaches into practice, the company has been the architect of its own meteoric rise, now standing as one of the largest foundry networks in world serving esteemed global brands including the likes of Daimler AG and Detroit Diesel.
Based 50 kilometres outside of Cape Town, this global reputation is upheld by a state-of-the-art plant, allowing the firm to supply premium products and services to flexibly meet the alternate demands of its clientele.
And while the organisation’s global outlook remains crucial to its overall success, the firm equally stands as a grounded figurehead within a local context.
“Atlantis Foundries’ endeavour is to support the local market,” Moodley affirms. “We are proudly South African and have worked tirelessly to establish an extensive local procurement network.
“Due to the specialised nature of our business, a lot of this was conducted abroad previously. But over the years we have worked with our suppliers on localising their production, thereby protecting our cost base while simultaneously providing benefit to the South African economy.”
As a result, Atlantis Foundries has often been the cornerstone from which many small businesses have been able to establish themselves, its procurement network now exceeding a local content of 70 percent.
“We’ll only source materials internationally when they are unavailable otherwise, yet at the same time we see all of our partners and suppliers as equal parties,” Moodley adds, pointing to the numerous long term relationships that it has developed over the years as fundamental foundations for the business.
Maintaining close collaborations wherever possible, the business is able to uphold the highest product standards and on-time delivery, as well as readily resolving issues as they arise.
Proactivity, further evidenced by the firm’s ambitious investment strategy, is a common trait of Atlantis Foundries.
The company is seeking to propel itself to pioneer status in the way of smart foundry development, incorporating and implementing technologies such as robotics and data analytics in the aim of better monitoring and controlling the multitude of variables at play on the operational front of the business.
“We are really excited about the opportunities that such disruptions will provide for years to come,” Moodley adds.
Investments are not just limited to technological enhancements, however.
Equally, the business spends a considerable amount of time and money to support the skills development of its staff. Through an emphasis on training and education, it has successfully positioned itself as something of an employer of choice within SA, encouraging its workforce to excel beyond any boundaries.
“We support our people with educational bursaries, either to grow within the organisation or to pursue personal development,” Moodley reveals. “We also back local education institutions and are one of the largest employers of artisan apprentices, offering practical experiences to youngsters through our operations.”
This education-driven emphasis further forms a major part of Atlantis Foundries’ corporate social responsibility efforts.
The company acts as the primary sponsor of Hope at Atlantis, a mathematics and science tutoring programme set up in conjunction with the University of Stellenbosch to offer courses to senior level school students during their vacations, helping to set them on the path to enrolling in tertiary education.
“I was also personally involved in the roll-out of the Partner for Possibility peer support programme in 2018,” the Chief Exec continues.
“It is a one to one initiative where principals work with business leaders to develop leadership, communication and resource management skills, and ultimately take schools to the next level.
“We have just taken our second school on board for 2019/2020, and have also been supporting such institutions on a number of adhoc projects, providing bursaries for staff and top students who have the passion and drive for education but lack financial resources.”
With an eye to social and community-centric initiatives, it seems that Atlantis Foundries’ continued successes will have a fantastic impact ahead.
Moving forward, the firm remains committed to the development of its localised procurement network and CSR efforts, recently partaking in other activities including sponsorship of a local rugby team, Orion – an arts and culture foundation for disabled individuals – and local soup kitchens.
This is not all, however, the CEO further outlining the company’s targets for the coming year.
“Diversification into new markets is high on our agenda,” he states. “We feel that we can take our excellence in the automotive industry and apply it, alongside our strides into the fourth industrial revolution, to new opportunities.”
And it seems that the conditions are ripe in South Africa for such a transition to take place.
Owed to the emergence of a structured initiative built to stimulate growth within the national market, Moodley concludes by citing his optimism for the future.
“Masterplan 2035 is a bold statement that has come from the government to grow the automotive industry, with the primary aim of doubling South Africa’s capacity,” he states.
“Atlantis Foundries sees itself as a key player in the success of this plan. We are one of few South African tier one suppliers and have a proven track record and capabilities, and we’re ready to work closely with automotive OEMs in achieving these objectives.”