Tomorrow starts today


South Africa

Innovation isn’t just generally regarded as a good thing but is a major differentiator in the marketplace. KAEFER in South Africa builds upon its origins as a pioneer and disruptor in industry with its Innovations Day series.

KAEFER has always been an innovative company. It goes back to Carl Kaefer’s forward-thinking idea of using peat to insulate the walls of cold storage spaces – he saw an innovative opportunity by looking at an engineering issue from a different perspective. This ethos has driven KAEFER for over 100 years and the challenges of the last 21 months have provided ample opportunity for even more pioneering thought and action.

Necessity is the mother of invention

KAEFER’s Innovation Day in South Africa is a case in point. What started as a face-to-face initiative in years prior, to showcase original new ideas and ways of doing things had to change shape quickly when social distancing became the norm. “If the core theme we were exploring was innovation,” recalls Jayson Cleaver Managing Director of KAEFER in South Africa, “why not innovate with the format?” With his team, he sought the services of a media specialist who normally worked in live sports broadcasting. Together, they devised an innovative, interactive format. The idea was to connect pre-recorded elements with live features and allow the audience to interact by commenting on content and voting on questions, for example. “This worked very well,” Jayson Cleaver says. “It was an ideal way to stimulate discussion while delivering content efficiently that might have otherwise might only been possible with smaller groups. Furthermore, the fact that the sessions were sharp, focused and easily digestible meant that we could reach a larger group of people who might have been too time-poor to attend an in-person event”.

If the core theme we were exploring was innovation, why not innovate with the format?

The future is always just around the corner

The driving force of the Innovation Day was to showcase KAEFER disruptors in the marketplace and to highlight how KAEFER looks towards the future to continuously improve its technology and services. A couple of notable examples include Norwegian KAEFER Energy’s advanced corrosion under insulation (CUI) sensor system and DPMS – The Order to Invoice Solution. The CUI sensor system represents a paradigm shift in the process industry when it comes to tackling CUI challenges and associated plant integrity. Smart sensors are installed by an autonomous robot, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) and numerical simulations to determine where to put them. This allows for a shift to preventive rather than reactive maintenance and can make a substantial impact on the integrity of pipelines, plants and facilities.

DPMS is currently being rolled out in various markets and focusses on reducing unnecessary steps and increasing transparency by digitalising and streamlining the entire order-to-invoice process. Picking up on the latter point, Jayson Cleaver points out that: “when it comes to innovation, it’s not just about a single light-bulb moment or saying that we need to digitise the process behind a pile of paperwork, but it’s rather about looking at it as a journey of many isolated or incremental improvements that collectively add value add for our customers. The future is always just around the corner and KAEFER is truly an innovative company that leverages technology to provide pioneering solutions to its clients.”

Locally derived and delivered, globally scalable

The Innovation Day in Southern Africa targeted business leaders and decision-makers in the region and was delivered by KAEFER’s local team with support of KAEFER colleagues from the branches in UK & Ireland, Norway, and Australia as well as the Headquarters in Germany. Over 300 decision-makers participated in the 4 sessions and there were over 5,000 views on social media following the events. This is just one metric which shows that the concept, while local, has legs and can be easily replicated across international markets of course while benefiting from picking up on local themes. Furthermore, it is an effective way to reinforce KAEFER’s position as a very innovative company. “In a time where a good proportion of the industrial services business community hasn’t yet woken up to Industry 4.0, we’re already talking about Industry 5.0,” Jayson Cleaver says.

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