The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
ART Corporation’s batteries manufacturing firm, Chloride Zimbabwe has injected US$6 million towards the purchase of modern machinery and latest technologies over the past four years as it moves to keep its business afloat.
In his speech as guest of honour at the Chloride Zimbabwe’s Exide Express customer interaction dinner in Bulawayo last Friday, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries vice-president Mr Joseph Gunda said the batteries manufacturing concern was one of the few companies that have managed to be resilient over the last few years in the face of economic challenges.
“As the generality of industry struggles to get foreign currency on the interbank market and with capacity utilisation drastically reduced, the company has remained resilient keeping capacity utilisation at around 64 percent against a projected drop to below 30 percent for industry wide; and realising the need to generate own forex to sustain the business going forward . . . ,” he said.
Chloride Zimbabwe manufactures automotive, industrial and solar batteries and distribute power backup systems.
Automotive and solar batteries are manufactured under the Exide brand while the Chloride brand is used for standby and motive market. Standby cells are used for power back-up and motive cells power vehicles such as locomotives and forklifts.
Mr Gunda said as part of efforts to improve production the company invested a lot into new machinery and latest technologies.
“In the past four years the company has invested US$6 million into capital expenditure. The investment has resulted in increase in production capacity, better quality, improvement in product range and reduction in production costs. The technology has allowed the factory to manufacture the maintenance free battery which the market has been awaiting for some time . . . ,” he said.
Mr Gunda said the investment in modern machinery and latest technologies by Chloride Zimbabwe was in line with the key guiding principles of the country’s national industrial development policy whose pillars are anchored on upgrading and modernisation of the industrial equipment, prioritisation of standards and quality infrastructure, sustainable industrial development, (green industry), strong research and innovation, development and strengthening of industrial value chains, export led industrialisation, Information and Communication Technologies led industrialisation, among others.
“The industrial global village is in the industry 4.0 mode, which is the fourth Industrial Revolution and as Zimbabwean industrialists, we need to ensure that our production processes are up to speed with the global economy characterised by intelligent networking of machines and processes in industry that are managed with the aid of ICT. I must be able to manage my factory on a laptop in a remote set-up watching processes, quality and giving instructions remotely. For this to be possible, we need to work closely and collaborate with the academia to foster Research and Development using the research hubs such the one established at Nust (National University of Science and Technology), offer innovative ideas that assist in import substitution in order to reduce the country’s import bill of finished products,” he said.
The company intends to grow its revenue by above 35 of total sales next year.