Product innovation in the spotlight

Honouring product innovation

A wide range of automotive products regarded as innovative by their manufacturers, importers or distributors are under scrutiny by a panel of experts who will decide which of the items will win Automechanika Johannesburg 2019’s Innovation Awards competition

Experts representing various segments of South Africa’s automotive industry are hard at work evaluating products that have been judged finalists in this year’s Automechanika Johannesburg Innovation Awards competition.

The products – which span a variety of automotive applications – have one thing in common: they are deemed by their manufacturers, importers or distributors to incorporate qualities that, from an automotive viewpoint, make them game-changing.

The task of deciding which are truly innovative and worthy of top honours lies in the hands of this year’s jury members – Jakkie Olivier of the RMI, Dr Norman Lamprecht of NAAMSA, and David Furlonger, industrial editor of the Financial Mail.

In selecting the finalists, the jury has gone through a process of assessing nearly two dozen entries, rating each product individually in terms of perceived pioneering prowess, as well as for quality, practicality, efficiency, benefits to users, environmental friendliness and value for money.

From the ratings they submitted, the six products that scored the highest marks on a collective basis have been judged to be the items that best set benchmarks in the automotive sectors in which they compete.    

So, which items have made this year’s finals? In no particular order they are:

  • Catalfer’s Dry Sander, which is energy efficient, low on maintenance, compatible with both machine- and hand-sanding operations, and which is said to offer environmental and health advantages to body shops thanks to a patented dust-extraction system;
  • Fibertex’s Insulating Materials, which are used by automotive manufacturers in noise, vibration and harshness applications, not only for their significant thermal and acoustic benefits but also because their light weight helps to improve a vehicle’s fuel consumption while enhancing comfort levels for cabin occupants.  
  • Herrmann Lack Technik’s Anti-Static IonStar Spray Gun, which requires no power supply via cable and no batteries or battery-packs to drive the turbine incorporated in its design. The device is significantly lighter than other anti-static spray gun solutions, ensuring greater flexibility in application and enabling users more freedom to work;
  • Serco’s Thermally Efficient Refrigerated Trailer, the first in South Africa to achieve SABS approval for meeting standards related to the transport of frozen and fresh food produce, and which, thanks to its design, materials and techniques used in its manufacture, also serves to reduce the amount of carbon generated by the on-board, diesel-powered refrigeration unit;
  • Valeo’s AquaBlade Windscreen Wiping System, which does away with traditional washer jets mounted beneath a windscreen to project fluid directly onto the glass through channels that run along the length of the wiper blade. The result is improved cleaning performance across the windscreen, regardless of vehicle speed or wind conditions, as well as less waste of wiper fluid, with smoother and quieter operation of the blade.
  • Catalfer’s Plastic Welder, a nitrogen-based, energy-efficient system that has been designed to repair polypropylene parts – which make up about 90% of all plastics used on cars today, including bumpers and headlights – reducing the need for replacements and helping to curb plastic waste.

Organisers of Automechanika Johannesburg 2019 have arranged for exhibits of the top six products to be highlighted in an Innovation Awards display at the show. Presentations of gold, silver, bronze and highly commended certificates will be made to the winner and runners-up at an official prize-giving ceremony to be held at the event’s opening on September 18 at the National Exhibition Centre, Nasrec.


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