automation into africa

Taking Automation into Africa

4ward-design may be a South African company, but our work is not confined to our country alone, and you can find 4ward-design projects in many places across the globe. Our position in South Africa, however, makes us ideally located to access what has become one of our fastest-growing markets: the African continent and the islands off her shores.

We are currently busy on projects in the Congo, Zambia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and the Seychelles, we have also completed projects in Tanzania, Ghana and Botswana.

The rising demand for automation, video conferencing and energy management systems in Africa can likely be attributed to the increasing numbers of local and international developers, investors and corporations becoming active in the region. Apart from the operational needs of these businesses, their presence has also sparked a need for world-class hospitality facilities and a desire for high-end residential installations as well. These three categories form the basis of 4ward-design’s work in Africa.

4ward-design’s projects in Africa

Most of our work in Africa and the islands begins with a Consultation and Design project commissioned by a local or international architect, designer or business. Once this phase is complete, many of our clients choose to extend our contract to include the supply, installation and support of the systems that we have specified.

Commercial

4ward-design does a significant amount of work for law firms, telecoms, oil companies and the mining industry in Africa, largely focussing on boardroom facilities, and high-quality video conferencing.

Hospitality

Tourism in Africa and the nearby islands continues to increase, and large hotels form a big part of 4ward-design’s work in the Seychelles, Mauritius, Tanzania and Ghana. We design, supply and frequently install automation, energy management, audio visual and video conferencing systems for hotel general areas, conferencing facilities and suites.

High End Residential

4ward-design has completed work on the residences of three African monarchs, and we are currently busy on our fourth. Our high-end residential designs focus on home automation, audio visual and home theatre systems, and we have worked on homes everywhere from Mauritius to the Congo, the Seychelles, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

automation in africa

 

African Challenges

While Africa is developing at a remarkable rate, there are still many challenges to be overcome when installing first-world technology in an area with third-world infrastructure. The two most common challenges that we face are unstable power supply, and poor internet connectivity.

Unstable Power

To overcome unstable and unreliable power supplies, it’s important to design a system that does not rely entirely on the local energy grid. 4ward-design uses sophisticated technology from Crestron and Lutron to predict power supply problems in real-time, and switch over to an alternate power source (generator) in the event of any potentially damaging power fluctuations or outages. These Crestron and Lutron control systems are also ideal for managing energy consumption, creating a safer, more energy-efficient home environment.

Poor Internet Connectivity

Internet is vital for two main reasons in most of our installations. Firstly, because you can’t have video conferencing without an internet connection; and secondly, because our first line of support for all our international installations is a remote connection over which we can detect and diagnose any faults.

Because terrestrial internet connections in Africa and the islands can be extremely slow and unreliable, we recommend our clients invest in a satellite link as a failsafe measure. While satellite is more expensive than standard internet connections, it’s a more reliable option with fast and symmetrical upload and download speeds

International Implementation

Running an international project requires careful planning. It’s not just about making sure the installation goes smoothly, or conforms to local regulations. It’s also about training local technicians to be able to assist on site in the event that there are minor faults that can’t be solved remotely.

To do this, we deploy our own project manager and senior technicians to oversee and assist a local team in pulling and terminating cables and installing the equipment. During this process, the local team gains enough familiarity with the system to be the first line of on-site support for any minor physical faults that may occur.

(4ward-design can be on site within 48 hours, depending on flight availability, in the unlikely event that a more complex issue occurs.)

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