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We help build a Ford

Ford production lines set the standard for a perfect mix between human and robotic assembly, writes BRYAN TURNER.



The revamped and upgraded Ford plant in Silverton is geared to make assembly faster, while also improving ergonomics for assembly line employees.

“This required a total rethink and re-engineering of many of our established production processes,” says Ockert Berry, VP of operations at Ford EMEA.

This upgrade facilitates a new addition to the Ranger line: The Ford Ranger Raptor. The assembly line continues to produce all the other Ranger and Everest models for both domestic and export markets.

Fully assembling over 500 vehicles per day, Ford’s Silverton plant adds a capacity of up to 168 000 cars produced per year.

Ford invited Gadget to participate in the assembly of a Raptor. Before getting to assemble the cars, we were given protective gloves which not only protected the guests, but the cars as well. This rule also applies to the assembly line employees, as Ford makes sure that only soft materials touch the body of the car. This also prevents the natural oils produced by one’s skin from getting on the car.

Ford placed guests at different stations of the assembly line, rotating to see two different stations. Each of these stations performs a task which is built on in the next station, as a standard assembly line works.

Technology comes in with the conveyor systems carrying he cars at a specific height to provide maximum comfort for employees working on the line. Every cable, part, and piece is barcoded for tracking, and scanned when fitted to the car, ensuring accountability long after the car is purchased. This adds up to around 750 parts which go into Rangers and Everests.

Fitting the back beds and tie downs on the back of the pick-ups was the job assigned to our station, which has a surprising amount of cabling underneath the tightly fitted back bed. There are also serious time constraints, so being quick at fitting these parts is vital to keep the assembly line going.

Specialised order sheets have subtle differences in the car’s configurations, such as 6 tie downs instead of 4, or a back bed with a bracket. Assembly line workers know exactly how many cables go underneath certain back beds and where they’re fitted.

The addition of 25 new robots – bringing the total to 115 – helps speed complex tasks along, which includes welding of the body sides, cab and rear load box. Small changes facilitate faster build times, like getting the chassis delivered to the line inverted which makes it much easier to work on the car.

“Upgrading the Silverton Assembly Plant has been a monumental task spanning more than a year and a half. It has truly pushed our engineering and production teams to come up with innovative and creative solutions,” says Berry.

Gadget participated in building more than a dozen cars, including two Raptors. The conclusion? Humans and robots still depend heavily on each other.


TikTok looks for SA talent

The fast-rising short-video platform has launched a #PickMe campaign to discover local stars.



TikTok, which claims to be the world’s leading destination for short-form videos, launches its first PickMe campaign, an effort to discover creative talents and provide a stage to express themselves in South Africa. Starting March 1, TikTok kicked off a month-long search through participants’ 15-second videos under hashtag #PickMe.

TikTok says it is committed to investing in South Africa and discovering the local talents. The PickMe campaign is supported by its local partners like Huawei, MTV Base and Digify Africa.

Local stars, including comedian and singer Lasizwe and singer Nadia Jaftha, have joined the campaign and called for users to show their talents on TikTok.

There are 5 categories of video shooting in the campaign, namely dance, acting, comedy, singing and cosmetics. Participants need to shoot a 15-second video using TikTok using #PickMe and tag @tiktok_africa to participate in the challenge. The finalists will be selected based on their video performance. The most popular and talented participants will have the chance to win prizes like Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphones, a day at MTV Base, and a once-off-presenter opportunity and attendance at an intensive video production workshop delivered by Digify Africa.

“TikTok has definitely evolved into something that everyone loves and uses. It’s given creators a space to create more unique content and also help the creator gain a whole new kind of fan base, ” says Preven Reddy, Imbewu The Seed TV-star and Megazone radio host who is also a TikTok user.

Says TikTok video creator Mihlali Nxanga: “As a young South African working towards being in the entertainment industry, TikTok has given me the platform to grow my following tremendously. Within 6 months, my fan base has grown by a whopping 90 000, and not only from South Africa, but the whole world. For me, TikTok is not just a content platform, it is a global community.”

The campaign will wrap up on March 31. The list of the finalist will be announced in the app and on official Instagram @tiktok_southafrica. For more information, please visit the TikTok app.

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Rugby fan experience transformed by digital platform



The South African Rugby Federation has embraced digitalisation as a key enabler of its strategic aspirations. It has worked with Accenture to transform fan engagement for Springbok supporters with the launch of a digital fan platform.

“Digital technology and social media have transformed how modern fans watch, support and engage with their favourite teams,” says SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux. “To maintain our relevance amid this new market dynamic, and grow our fan base, we’ve acknowledged the vital need to digitally transform our organisation.”

Wayne Hull, managing director for Accenture Digital in Africa, says: “SA Rugby’s ambition to pivot to a more fan-centric strategy requires digital design, content, platforms and insights because modern consumers, including loyal Springbok supporters, engage predominantly via mobile digital channels and expect hyper-personalised experiences.”

Accenture Digital’s development process started with quantitative and qualitative research, which informed the user experience (UX) design guidelines and content strategy for the digital fan engagement platform.

“To know what fans want, we needed to understand the fans themselves,” says Hull. “The Accenture Digital team mined the research data and identified multiple fan ‘personas’, which all have different content consumption, platform functionality and engagement preferences.”

The platform development team focused on three critical elements to meet these requirements – the customer experience (CX), the engagement engine and cloud-based deployment.

“To deliver a memorable and engaging CX, Accenture Digital leveraged leading digital experience software,” says Hull. “The result is a fully integrated and responsive platform that creates seamless, personalised digital fan experiences across SA Rugby’s content, commerce and digital marketing initiatives in a manner that makes fans feel recognised and connected to the players and the game.”

The new platform will serve as the first point of call for any rugby fan who wants to get their data fix with exclusive statistics, analytics and insights. The platform’s content style will include more visual elements – videos and images – with more concise articles that are easier to digest, in accordance with evolving content consumption preferences on mobile screens. This will complement long-form thought leadership and insight pieces. 

In addition, fans will enjoy exclusive access to player-related content, such as behind-the-scenes footage and game and training performance stats. SA Rugby will also benefit from the ability to track comments and mentions via the Sitecore analytics platform Accenture Digital implemented, to respond and engage in the conversations Springbok fans are having on social media about the game, the teams or the players.

To do this, SA Rugby required a consolidated view of the customer. However, data resided in disparate sites across ticketing providers and SA Rugby’s e-commerce and online magazine databases. This information will be consolidated into the CRM system, with multiple integration points available to leverage this data.

The CRM system’s functionality will help to reveal insights such as fan communication preferences and their likes and dislikes, which will place hyper-relevance at the core of SA Rugby’s fan experience and engagement strategy.

 The final element in the platform development was cloud deployment, which allows fans to access the platform from any device that has an internet connection. The platform is hosted within the Microsoft Azure environment, which is stable, secure and fully redundant. It gives SA Rugby the flexibility to manage the platform themselves, with the option to integrate or scale additional functionality down the line.

Based on the outcome, Hull believes that Accenture Digital has successfully reimagined, built and delivered a world-class, modern and mobile-friendly digital fan platform that creates a fun, immersive and engaging experience for fans.

“It’s a major step towards helping SA Rugby realise its ambition to become a fan-centric, forward-looking and nimble organisation, and we look forward to building and developing the platform further with the team as their digital fan engagement requirements evolve,” says Hull

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