Published:  2016-03-10 Views:  945
Author:  karelnel
Published in:  Interesting/Interessant
Just Another Vehicle?

Just another vehicle ?


At a Defence Expo (like AAD recently), sooner or later one sees a new military vehicle - immaculately clean and brightly polished - even the tyres! Most people just see ‘another vehicle’ and wanders off.  A few may stay a little longer and try and read the specs to understand something of the advantages of the new system. Still fewer may have the capability to observe the characteristics of engineering brilliance built into the vehicle.  Perhaps only one or two will have the true comprehension of what they really saw.

Let me explain to you – it takes a long chain of activities to produce an excellent product, many of these activities performed by the ‘backroom boys’ that nobody ever takes note of. Let’s think of the design engineer at his CAD station (drawing board in the old days), putting concepts on paper – creating something tangible from the intangible domain. Then there’s the system engineer who has the ability to conceptually integrate all required functions, all engineering specialities, all applicable legislation, codes and standards, all test requirements into a buildable and operable and supportable product definition.

Oh, then there is the project engineer tasked to oversee and manage the thousands of activities needed to create a product from materials and components and human labour? Then there is also the production engineer who designs the sophisticated production processes, inclusive of the materials management system that must move thousands of parts to be available at the right time to the right place for assembly purposes. And what about the quality engineers involved during all stages of the process?

 Hi – that is not the end of it! Add to that all the other support functions – the contract managers, the administrative support, the financial guys and so one can go on and on.  Reflecting on this you’ll start to realize the vastness behind one simple vehicle on a Defence Exposition floor.

Even more so, consider this – when you drive along the road and suddenly you pass a noisy and somewhat dilapidated SAMIL vehicle, most people will see ‘just another old truck’.



A few will perhaps think about the fact that this vehicle has already done duty for three decades or more, sometimes under very harsh conditions. Still fewer will realize that this vehicle system was designed and built 40 years ago for reliable use over a long lifespan. Only one or two might realise the brilliance of what they saw, despite the fact that the system will soon be ready to be phased out.

So - multiply this brilliance by forty or fifty or perhaps even one hundred as you count all the indigenous systems that were developed for the South African Defence Environment – the GV5, GV6, the Ratel, the Casspir, the Mamba and so we can go on and on. The quiet and unobtrusive brilliance behind all these was the people of Armscor and the Defence Force! Within the Defence Family numerous ‘backroom boys’ were all quietly doing their work in order to ‘serve the soldier’.

Realise that this is why we can be proud of the Defence Family. They had the know-how. They had the creativity. They had the experience. They have achieved much. Amongst the other entities of this country,  the Defence Family is not just ‘another vehicle’! This ‘vehicle’ must take the RSA Defence into the future – and the challenges will even be bigger than in the past.


KPJ Nel Pr Eng


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