23.66% Increase in 6 months 

The price of ULP 93 fuel has increased from a January 2022 price of 19.36 to 23.94, representing a whopping 23.66% increase in 6 months. The impact of such an increase hits the entire economy, Businesses and Individuals, with the poorest being those most affected.

The nature of a successful business is to be able to manage change, which is one of Budget Sheet Metal’s strengths. In so doing it contributes to its investors, its staff and the community at large, either directly or via its various tax contributions. Change should not be feared, as it is inevitable. Though the increase in fuel price has a myriad of adverse effects, whilst hoping that it remains short-lived, it will most likely continue. 

Budget Sheet Metal has had to learn to cope with a local currency that has depreciated to approximately one fifth of its value against the Euro and the US Dollar in the last 25 years. This has made the replacement of imported products by local manufacture a no-brainer. Budget Sheet Metal has been expanding in the highly technological sphere of CNC manufacture targeted at the economies of scale adequate for today’s South Africa. The manual labourers and general workers have been progressively trained in-house and are now operating state-of-the-art machinery. Those who used to weld by hand are now running Yaskawa robotic welders, yielding better quality at competitive cost. Some of those who used to manually grind steel are now operating laser profile cutters and flat-bed punch machines, producing more with less effort. The entire team is interconnected with dedicated software which monitors every step of production and provides invaluable data for most efficient planning. With the use of SolidWorks Design Software and its digital link to the latest Amada CNC machines, the Engineers at Budget Sheet Metal have developed all necessary infrastructures to successfully replace imported sheet metal products with local manufacture in a cost-effective solution. 

Businesses can assist local industry against rising fuel prices in many ways:

Working from Home: Businesses that can permit staff to work from home and reduce attendance at the workplace effectively cancel out some of the increases in fuel prices. Budget Sheet Metal has been successful with this application in positions where the physical presence at work can be avoided.

Avoiding Unnecessary Travel: In today’s technological environment many physical meetings and visits can be replaced by virtual and digital interactions. Covid-19 restrictions have assisted in promoting the use of such technology and have increased the acceptance of such methods of communication. Budget Sheet Metal can offer the bulk of its services to its Clients with minimal physical interaction, communicating digitally until the completion of the production runs.

Efficient Logistics: Budget Sheet Metal has improved in the logistics and with the aid of forecasting data ensures that their collections and deliveries are optimized in respect of efficiency. Part of adaptation to change is to constantly revisit the business operations and adapt accordingly.

Buy Local: Replacing imported goods and services with local ones offer Businesses many advantages, besides the obvious one that imported goods rely on fuel to reach their destination. This principle also protects our currency and fuels economic growth whilst creating much needed jobs. Again due to the Covid-19 Pandemic Budget Sheet Metal introduced innovations that managed to safe-guard all its jobs. Though everyone took strain during this difficult period, Budget Sheet Metal managed to continue to support all staff and provide services to its Clients, many of which took the opportunity to have products made locally replacing ever-increasing imported ones. 

Shifting Working Hours: Re-aligning working hours in a manner that avoid peak-hour traffic may reduce both consumption and travel time. Congestion burns more fuel for distance travelled and increases travel time. Budget Sheet Metal has offset its working hours and, combined with its day and night shifts, it is able to offer shorter lead times and increased production at short notice. This is a great improvement from having to bulk orders together in order to fill a container of imports from overseas.

Electric Vehicles: There is a world trend into the use of renewable energy such as electric vehicles. Unfortunately in South Africa we have the challenge of high cost of electric vehicles, insufficient infrastructure for charging and insufficient electricity supply. Making use of electric vehicles certainly reduces the impact that fuel price increases make to commuting. Budget Sheet Metal expects its enclosure demand to increase as a result of this new technology. It can provide electrical enclosures, dispensing kiosks and battery casings. Furthermore, Budget Sheet Metal adopted various “green” technologies such as solar geysers and highly efficient technical glass in its own building to reduce its carbon footprint. 

Budget Sheet Metal’s positive outlook: Businesses can focus on new opportunities and impart positivity to their investors, staff, suppliers and clients. Many difficulties which dampen business sentiment are not unique to South Africa though we often feel that other Countries are better, but a glance at foreign media quickly highlights the fact that most economies are in a bad state, though for different reasons. Weaknesses in our economy can offer new opportunities to local businesses. 

Though not any individual solution offered herein may be a definitive solution, perhaps the right combination of these ideas may well alleviate the effect of the recent shock fuel price increases. Businesses have the ability to drive the economy, create employment and uplift the community at large. Embracing the situation and projecting a positive drive can go a long way to inject much needed positivity in the local industry.