Category Archives: Sustainable business performance

PFK Electronics: A sober yet passionate look at sustainability

PFK Electronics

#TT100Winner of the 2016 Award for Sustainability,
Category for large enterprises

A sober yet passionate look at sustainability

Drunk driving is a headache worldwide, which is why more and more countries are turning to alcohol ignition interlocks to keep inebriated motorists off the roads. Interestingly, quite a number of these countries are purchasing devices from a South African company, PFK Electronics.

“Our units are designed and made here in South Africa and are used predominately across North America and Europe, including countries like Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom. As an example, PFK supplies the government of Sweden, where it is legislated that motorists convicted of driving under the influence are required to use an interlock device,” says Marco Valente, Managing Director of Sales & Marketing.

The company’s range of interlock devices, branded Autowatch Interlock, provides an alcohol ignition interlock breathalyser system that will not permit a driver to start the vehicle before passing a breath sample test. Once the vehicle is moving, the unit can be configured to request breath samples to monitor the sobriety of the driver.

If a breath sample is above the legislated limit of a country or the limit set for the driver, the interlock device sends a notification via GSM communication to a control centre, where the vehicle will be immobilised as soon as the ignition is turned off. Fleet managers also use this product feature to adequately manage their risk, as well as to reward safe drivers.

Valente says PFK is passionate about proactive risk and asset management to ensure continued organisational asset and employee sustainability. 

The importance of exports

PFK’s success in global markets is impressive. Approximately 70% of its products are exported, with over three million vehicle security systems operating in the United States alone and 100 000 telematics systems in Russia. In the OEM market, international customers include Bentley, General Motors, Volkswagen, Renault France, Ford, Lotus UK, Proton Malaysia and Tesla USA. In all, PFK’s distribution network spans over 25 countries and it has sales offices in the UK and Sweden.

“Exports are key for sustainability and we are constantly on the lookout for new markets and new distribution partners,” says Valente.

In South Africa, the company contributes a massive 80% of the local car alarm, immobiliser and vehicle security aftermarket.

Some of the factors fuelling PFK’s success are its insistence on quality (its international certifications include ISO/TS 16949, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001), excellent design and manufacturing systems, and strong relationships with customers, staff and partners.

Then there is the sheer love of technology and the excitement of developing something new and different. “Over the years we’ve invested in a variety of different solutions driven more by excitement than financial gain at the time,” says Valente.

As they say in the classics: If you do what you love, the world will love what you do.

About PFK

Since opening its doors in Durban in 1985, it has grown into the largest automotive electronics manufacturing company in South Africa, with solutions that include vehicle alarm and immobiliser systems, stolen vehicle recovery, driver behaviour profiling, insurance telematics, fleet management telematics, video telematics and; under the PFK Shurlok banner, Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) approved plastics, instrument clusters, harnesses, among others, as a first and second tier OEM supplier.


The “Big Picture”
Sustainable Business Performance requires business to transition from creating shareholder value in the short term, to creating inclusive wealth (i.e. making a NET+ contribution) to all stakeholders in the medium to long term. 
Sustainable Business as defined by the NBS (Network for Business Sustainability):
-“Are resilient and create economic value, healthy ecosystems and strong communities.
-Survive over the long term because they are intimately connected to healthy economic, social and environmental systems”.
Balance – KEY to Sustainable Business Performance:
Sustainable Business Leaders have to carefully balance:
  • A Triple Bottom Line Business Strategy (Short, Medium and Long Term),
  • Anticipating Market Demand and constantly analyse the Voice (ever-changing needs) of the Customer,
  • Leveraging fit-for purpose Technology,
  • Offer a World Class Delivery Capability, through operational excellence and high performance teams.
The Da Vinci Institute TIPS™ Framework enables Sustainable Business Performance, and balances these Strategic Focus Areas by establishing:
  • Alignment through Workplace integration
  • Engagement ensuring Performance output
  • Agility facilitating Performance and Value Returns.

The Da Vinci Institute TIPS™ Framework: Management of Technology, Innovation, People and Systems.

The TIPS Sustainable Business Performance Framework enables Business Leaders to rapidly benchmark sustainable business performance maturity, make informed strategic and project decisions, as well as identify and innovatively acting on material business risks and opportunities, unlocking inclusive value for all stakeholders.
Operationalising a Sustainable Business Performance Strategy will require a High Performance Leadership Culture, Business Model Innovation, integrated Supply Chain Design (Demand & Investor LED), and Collaborative Technology Innovation.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Vision of a Sustainable World in 2050 outlines a valuable Transformation Pathway – strategically directing industry on this incredible Sustainable Business Performance journey.

WBCSD Vision 2050
Sustainable Business Performance is only possible, provided business is participating in a Sustainable Supply Chain creating inclusive value to all stakeholders.
The current reality is that current Global Supply Chains are only effectively servicing 29% of Global Consumer Demand – as depicted in the below graph:

System Pressures and Trends Cambridge David Rice

Critical Supply Chain Re-design facilitates Disruptive Growth opportunity for Sustainable Business to satisfy the needs of new customers (unmet needs) in white space markets.
Kasi-Nomics – Research by GG Alcock outlines incredible near market opportunities in South Africa and the African context.
Supply Chain Design is similarly disrupted by the notion of “Circular Value Chains”: integrated and designed for a Circular Economy (Cradle to Cradle Thinking).
It’s all about Bold Leadership and a Vision:
“Vision is the articulation of a company’s unique role in and contribution to a sustainable future. It is best when it is a direct evolution of the existing core vision of the firm, with fundamental sustainability needs or challenges. It describes a competing and relevant destination for the organisation, and inspires employees, partners and other stakeholders to help achieve it!” The Regeneration Roadmap (2013)
Industry example:
  Unilever plans to double its turnover while halving its environmental impact – Paul Polman 2013.
** For successful implementation, it is critical to prepare a comprehensive stakeholder map and engagement strategy – as these will inform your Sustainable Business Transformation Strategy.
** Gear your Leadership Team with relevant Skills of the Future, by providing “Toolkits for Step Change”-TM (Innovation Management, Design LED Thinking, Systems Thinking) and Technology Enablement.
“A leapfrogging organisation needs allies and builds trusted networks all around the world. They believe no man is an island and seeks intimate relationships. They do not see an “us” vs. “them”, they instead see networks and alliances where information is freely shared and which is based on trust. To cap it all, leapfrogging organisations look to partner with competitors and customers to move on to the next level.” Dr Oren Harari (2013)
Innovation for Sustainable Business Performance is about the “Implementation of NEW Ideas with Sustainable Impact”.
  • Growth
  • Differentiation
  • Sustainable Development
This calls for Business Model Innovation!
New Businesses applying these unconventional Sustainable Business Performance principles are totally disrupting Industry – examples include:
  • Uber the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles
  • Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content
  • Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory
  • Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider owns no real estate.
Technology Enablement: allows organisations to – “Leapfrog” their competitors through Effective Adaption and Rapid Implementation.
The Value of Fit-for-Purpose Technology Enablement for Business will include:
  • Increased productivity while institutionalizing a Culture of High Performance Leadership,
  • Increase local and global collaboration,
  • Reducing complexity by simplifying complex tasks and decision making,
  • Empowered Workforce!
Market Leading organisations achieve Sustainable Business Performance through leveraging primarily two kinds of Technologies:
  1. ICT – Technology Enablement – High-Impact Examples include:
  • Internet of Things:
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and other items — embedded with electronicssoftwaresensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data (big data). The IoT allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, Wiki (2016).
Real Time Analytics and Exception Management – leveraging the IoT’s Technology will unlock significant Business Value across the Value Chain.
  • Convergence of Technology Enhances Business Performance and allows for regular efficiency breakthroughs – examples include:
  • Mobile (Commercial – Snap-scan, Retail Specials (Xx), Learning, Social Media), Etc.
  • Remote Sensing Technology and Satellite Technology
  • Drone Technology
  • Enterprise Collaboration Technologies
  • Traceability, Operations Visibility and Sustainability Platform – for the whole Supply Chain
  1. Clean Technology – Technology Enablement – High-Impact examples include:
Leadership has to drive the adaption and implementation of new “Clean Technologies” Technology Enablement throughout their organisations, especially new Projects.
This requires a New Design Brief from Shareholders to Business, Project Managers, Design Engineers and Supply Chain:
  • Energy Efficiency e.g. Optimised Equipment, Variable Speed Drives, Natural Light/ventilation,
  • Water Efficient and Recycling Technology e.g. Constructed Wetlands,
  • Zero Waste to Energy Technology, etc.
A Design Brief, which is Inspired by Natures design principles e.g. Biomimicry & Ecological Engineering.
  • Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well adapted to life on earth over the long haul. Ref:
  • Ecological engineering is an emerging study of integrating ecology and engineering, concerned with the design, monitoring, and construction of ecosystems. Ref:

“One of our main responsibilities is to leave successor generations a sustainable future”

-Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General.
Comprehensive information available on:
Sustainable Business – Da Vinci TT100
Collaboration – Sustainability Summit:

By Raldu Nel, Faculty: Monitoring and Implementation Da Vinci & CEO Blank Canvas Int.

Bertels, S.. 2016. embedding sustainability in organizational culture. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed March 2017].
Biomimicry 3.8. 2017. Biomimicry 3.8 Homepage – Biomimicry 3.8. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed March 2017].
Blank Canvas International. 2017. African Sustainability Summit – Blank Canvas International. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed March 2017].
Coulter, C. & Lee, M.. 2013. Changing Track: Extending Corporate Leadership on Sustainable Development . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed March 2017].
Ecological Engineering Group. 2017. Ecological Engineering Group. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed March 2017].
The Da Vinci Institute. 2017. How we do it | The Da Vinci Institute. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed March 2017].