South Africa’s furniture manufacturing industry received a boost with the launch of a quality testing centre in Cape Town recently.
Fully-equipped with the latest manufacturing machinery and other technology, the centre is part of an initiative by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) and FurnTech Manufacturing to improve the local furniture-making industry. Seda is a a part of the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism’s partner network.
The testing centre will help small furniture manufacturing companies test their latest products to ensure that they meet the standard to sell locally and abroad.
Although the thriving furniture industry continues to grow, it faces a continuing threat from overseas markets.
Issues relating to certification of furniture products and the legitimacy of the producers are dealt with at the centre, allowing businesses to compete at both a local and international level.
Raven Naidoo, project manager at FurnTech, says local furniture makers face serious competition from the flood of unchecked furniture products.
Naidoo says the threat is ongoing because of “cheap and nasty” imports, mostly from regions like Asia.
A furniture study conducted in 2010 revealed that imported furniture cost the country’s local market R1.5 billion in 2005, climbing to R2.6 billion in 2008, and in so doing overpowering local manufacturers.
Naidoo says the increase in imports called for a local intervention.
“We need to consider alternative measures to protect and grow our local manufacturers. One such measure is the implementation of compulsory quality standards for furniture,” she says.
The centre, she says, will help local businesses keep track of their product’s standard of quality and determine whether they’re fit for an international market.This will be realised through the centre’s quality testing and evaluation capabilities, which includes trained quality assurance staff.
Benefits for using the centre include a testing facility for those manufacturers that need an independent certificate of compliance so that they can comply with state tender requirements, as well as independent certification for products that are being imported.
The initiative is part of measures by FurnTech to boost local manufacturers while expanding their reach to consumers – with quality production as their main tool.
Says Naidoo: “With regards to standards and conformity assessments, the current standards available in the country are limited and most of the testing equipment is out of date”.
The centre was opened by FurnTech chairperson Sibongile Sigodi and Simphiwe Soga, Seda Testing Programme’s acting executive manager. Seda has pledged to provide the financial backing for the programme.
- Go to www.furntech.org.za for more information.