Chinese communications company considering assembly operations in South Africa

1st December 2023 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

China-based mission-critical communications hardware and software company Hytera Communications is in early-stage discussions to hopefully start basic assembly operations in South Africa.

Based in the Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen, the company has four manufacturing plants, two in China and two in Europe – one each in Germany and Spain.

The purpose of setting up a basic assembly plant in South Africa would be to meet Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) requirements for government contracts, explained Hytera Communications South Africa senior sales manager Cedric Rigney to Engineering News & Mining Weekly in an exclusive interview at the Africa Tech Fest 2023, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre last month.

Although local companies can get exemption from the dtic for these requirements (although these companies are importing the products they are offering), “obviously, local assembly would be advantageous for us”, said Rigney, adding that local assembly would also create jobs in South Africa.

The company, founded in 1993, has been in South Africa since 2011. Its two local distributors both provide full servicing and spares support, including qualified engineers.

Hytera’s target markets are the oil and gas, petrochemicals, other critical industry, fire, emergency and police sectors. “Mission critical communications means getting the voice through, when you need it the most,” he elucidates.

Two new products were launched into the African markets at Africa Tech Fest 2023. They are a radio and a smartphone.

The radio, designated the PT890Ex, is aimed at the oil and gas industry. Indeed, the suffix -Ex indicates that it is certified for use in that sector. But it is also suitable for the coal and petrochemicals industries. The radio and battery are both encapsulated in a special resin, to prevent any sparking into the surrounding environment, which could cause explosions. It can operate in temperatures ranging from –25 °C to +60 °C. It can withstand being dropped and has two satellite navigation (GPS) chips, increasing the speed and accuracy of geolocation, with a precision of less than one metre.

The PT890Ex is, Rigney points out, ergonomically designed for single-hand operation, even if that hand is wearing a glove. The control buttons are programmable, and it also has a panic button. It is fitted with artificial intelligence noise cancellation, which suppresses background noise and allows the caller’s voice to be heard. “It’s very effective!”

The smartphone is the PNC460U, which is aimed at the private security sector, although some police forces are looking at it. It is fitted with dual SIM cards, allowing both work and private use, while keeping the two channels completely separate. It is ruggedised and has a 50 megapixel camera. It can even be used as a bodycam, sending live video. It is IP68 rated, meaning that it can be immersed in water, up to a couple of metres deep, for up to 30 minutes.