South Africa Made Products Tops Innovation Award Honours at Automechanika Johannesburg


South Africa Made Product Tops Innovation Award Honours at Automechanika Johannesburg

Automechanika South Africa Awards

PFK Electronics’ Autowatch 740 WAB breathalyser immobiliser – a product designed, developed and manufactured in South Africa for local and global markets – was this morning awarded top honours for innovation at Automechanika Johannesburg’s Innovation Awards 2013.

Hunter’s HawkEye Elite Wheel Alignment System, developed in the US, won a silver certificate while two other locally manufactured products tied for bronze award status – Supreme Spring’s Cobra Coil-Over Suspension Kit and Powertech’s state-of-the-art Willard IQ battery.

Six other products received certificates of commendation for their pioneering qualities:

  • Fuel Cop’s Fuel Protection and Tracking Service;
  • Hella’s Powerbeam 1000 work light;
  • Hunter’s Road Force Touch Diagnostic Wheel Balancer as well its Quick-Check  Alignment System;
  • KTR’s JBT-1 Universal Tester for starter motors and alternators;
  • Tracker’s SkyTrax Connected Car System.

The products were assessed by a jury comprising Dr Richard Beän of UNIDO; Christopher Crookes of Extra Dimensions; John Ellmore of the RMI; David Furlonger of the Financial Mail; Dr Norman Lamprecht of NAAMSA, Jeff Osborne of the RMI and Roger Pitot of NAACAM.

“The overall quality of entries was high,” said Wynter Murdoch, convener of the Innovation Awards. “It was heartening, also, to see such a diversity of items in contention for top honours.”

In the eyes of the jury, PFK’s Autowatch Alcolock 740 WAB breathalyser immobiliser was perceived to represent a significant step forward in the fight against drunk driving. The device, which is manufactured locally by the Durban-based company, is a refinement of an earlier breathalyser immobiliser, the 720 TAB which, in 2009, was awarded a silver certificate in the competition.

The forerunner is exported to five countries and has helped to establish internationally the company’s Autowatch Alcolock brand. The new product – which will be introduced to the market from this month – differs from the original in that it is no longer a tethered unit but instead, wirelessly operated. It is also smaller, lighter and faster, with many new features.

Essentially, though, its aim remains similar – to prevent drivers who are over a stipulated alcohol limit from starting their vehicles and to deliver that data to a transport operator or owner.

Tested for production over a period of 18 months and found to be accurate and secure, complying with international standards, the 740 WAB was described by jury members as a world leader: innovative, accurate, reliable and user-friendly.

“It is an outstanding product that promotes road safety by ensuring a vehicle driver’s sobriety in a discreet yet efficient way,” the jury said in its assessment.

Missouri-based Hunter’s HawkEye Elite Wheel Alignment System – one of three of the brand’s products entered in the competition by importer Leaderquip – was deemed to represent an excellent combination of technology and functionality designed to improve overall service efficiency in the alignment workshop environment.

“The product is capable of reducing set-up times to seconds rather than minutes, and incorporates many high-tech, cleverly designed, useful features aimed at helping to increase productivity,” the jury said. Quick-fit adaptors, three-dimensional targets, high-resolution cameras and powerful alignment software are among the system’s facets.

The bronze award winners – Supreme Spring’s Cobra Coil-Over Suspension Kit and Powertech’s new Willard IQ battery – were similarly lauded. The Cobra kit, developed and manufactured on the East Rand, was perceived by the jury to be “well-designed and engineered, aimed at helping to safely lower a vehicle’s ride height and, from a styling perspective, to promote aesthetic appeal” while the Port Elizabeth manufactured Willard product was described as “a premium quality, sealed, roll-over battery that offers a range of useful high-tech features, especially those aimed at facilitating better management of customer relations …”

In an address at Automechanika Johannesburg at the Innovation Awards presentation ceremony, Murdoch said: “Out of the dozens of entries received in the competition, the products assessed as finalists were found to all contribute in one way or another to advancing automotive progress, either by pioneering aspects of safety, environmental friendliness, or ease of use, or by making significant breakthroughs in terms of development or benchmark standards.”

All of the products will be on display until Saturday at the Innovation Awards stand in Hall 6 at Automechanika Johannesburg.