At the end of the initial five-year plan, he said, “the industry should have created between 7 000 and 8 000 jobs, as well as seen an active participation of about 600 newly formed small, medium and micro enterprises”. SAinfo reporter 27 June 2014 South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry has approved a R200-million grant and a five-year plan for the establishment of the Southern African Sustainable Textile and Apparel Cluster (Sastac), in a bid to improve the industry’s competitiveness while uniting it under an umbrella body. Making the announcement on Monday, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said the initiative sought to build the capacity of South Africa’s industry to supply local and international consumers with “fully traceable sustainable apparel and household textile products”. This would include supplying textile and apparel products that adhered to the 100% local content requirement for procurement by local government. Davies said the cluster would work to maximise production and beneficiation using local raw materials, “starting with cotton and then broadening its scope to include all other natural and synthetic fibres”, while incubating opportunities for small business participation and job creation throughout the value chain, “from farm to retail”. The cluster would work with retailers to help the government with tracing goods and overcoming non-compliance within the industry. Heinrich Schultz, the newly appointed manager of the cluster, told The Star newspaper that Sastac would oversee about eight existing sub-clusters across the industry, helping to “mend a highly fragmented industry”.
Recent blackouts in the U.S. and India should serve as a wake-up call to an increasingly networked world. Power outages are no longer a local problem. Mission-critical websites and data centers are increasingly likely to be located in blackout zones. Today, a local blackout can become a global business catastrophe.That was one of the lessons learned on June 29, when a massive line of thunderstorms went derecho and plowed through the U.S. midwest and eastern seaboard. By the time the front’s powerful straight-line winds reached Virginia, dozens of people were killed or injured and millions were left without power.Also knocked out was the Amazon Web Service data center in Ashburn, Virginia, zapping hundreds of websites and quite a few popular online services, including Netflix, Pinterest and Heroku.Just one month later came the widespread blackouts in India. On the first day, the power grid in the northern India states went down, affecting an estimated 400-500 million Indians. As though that weren’t brutal enough, on the next day the eastern grid crashed as well, plunging another 100 to 150 million people into darkness.U.S. & India: Different Issues, Similar VulnerabilitiesWhile the outcomes of events in the U.S. and India were similar, the causes were very different. Mother Nature was the primary cause of the U.S. blackouts, but she played only a supporting role in the Indian outages.“The problem in India was mismatched supply and demand,” explained Prasad Dhond, marketing manager for Texas Instruments Smart Grid technology.The biggest challenges facing India are meter tampering and other forms of electricity theft, Dhond explained, “Theft is very rampant in India.” That, coupled with a dry season that has reduced hydropower production, created a perfect opportunity for the grid failure.The Failing GridThe issues are different in the U.S., where supply is abundant and cheap enough that incidents of power theft are very low. In the U.S., the problem is high demand, high supply, and an infrastructure that was built to handle a smaller load.According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the U.S. needs to invest $107 billion in the power infrastructure between now and 2020 just to keep up with demand – a sizable $13.4 billion per year. Only 11 percent of that investment would go into generating more power; every penny of the rest would go to transmission and distribution.“Without new investment, service interruptions and capacity bottlenecks will contribute to more frequent and unpredictable service interruptions that impose direct costs to businesses and households,” the ASCE said in a press statement last spring. “Those consequences will cost households $6 billion in 2012, $71 billion in total by 2020 and $354 billion in total by 2040. Businesses will pay $10 billion in 2012, $126 billion in 2020 and $641 billion by 2040 in avoidable costs.”Even as U.S. utilities wrestle with infrastructure investment, private companies are contributing their own solutions.Getting Smart About PowerTexas Instruments (TI) is in the business of making semiconductors, but it’s also building a market in energy management systems. These systems scale in complexity, depending on the infrastructure they’re serving. In India, for instance, the first stage might be to deploy tamper-resistant meters that would set off an alarm is a meter cover were removed or if the load balance between the live and neutral wire were way off.In other nations, Prasad Dhond explained, sensors on the grid could give better warnings of problems on the system, and even help introduce better substation automation for utilities. This would scale up to smart meters that would handle what Dhond describes as demand-side management.This is the kind of technology that consumers would see in their homes. Power indicators tied to appliances or stand-alone, in-home displays that would help power customers see their consumption rates and proactively manage their consumption.“There are lots of smart meters in use in Texas and California,” Dhond said, though the real-time reporting is not quite there yet. In Texas, the meters report back consumption 6 to 8 times a day, and the results are reported on a public Web site. The data are about 24 hours behind, but it’s enough for customers to start identifying their useage patterns.The need to manage demand could be critical, Dhond emphasized, because the U.S. is increasingly shifting its attention to electricity for energy. Electric cars are on the rise, but Dhond says a concentration of electric cars charging in a neighborhood might be a huge stress on the local grid.The biggest challenge for power management is awareness. Right now, there’s not a perceived problem.“Electricity prices are reasonable here in the U.S.,” Dhond said. “If they go up, interest in power management will go up.”Hopefully the next wake-up call will be a mild one, and not a full-blown disaster.Image Courtesy of Shutterstock Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… brian proffitt Related Posts IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Tags:#cloud computing#enterprise
By Carol ChurchIn part 1 of this series, we talked about the cost of getting ready for a disaster, and how some people don’t—or how they go too far. Here we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of what you can do to prepare your household and family for a disaster while not completely breaking your budget.Photospin/Alexander MatvienkoPrepare early.The key to emergency preparedness on a budget is giving yourself plenty of time to get ready. As we’ve seen time and time again, when disaster is bearing down, people panic, and prices go up. To avoid this last-minute hysteria, purchase a set of basic supplies and have them on hand year-round so you don’t end up in a pickle using Perrier to brush your teeth. If you have limited space and are unable to store water, we have some solutions for that further down.Having a long timeline will also permit those on tight budgets to put away “a little bit” every week or month to prepare. If taking out a large amount of cash all at once (since cash may be needed in any emergency) will be a problem, start saving change and small bills. Ditto for building up a simple emergency pantry: one extra can of tuna a week won’t add much to your grocery bill.Think reusable instead of short-termIn the panic before a blizzard or hurricane, people often buy up a lot of bottled water and cheap flashlights. This is only natural, but especially if you live in an area where this kind of emergency happens with some regularity, it may be time to rethink. Solar or crank lanterns and flashlights do not need batteries; once bought, you will not have make that purchase again. As far as water goes (FEMA recommends having enough for 3 days, at a gallon per person a day), consider purchasing refillable containers like an Aquatainer, or a water filter like a LifeStraw (technology here has really advanced). These items will not need to be dumped and then rebought time after time. Remember, too, that there are other ways to store water in the short term for drinking and washing, including:–In large pots, canning jars, water coolers, food-grade buckets, or 2-liter soda bottles–In the bathtub or washing machine (for washing only)Watch for sales and bulk dealsBottled water, first aid supplies, batteries, and other emergency needs all go on sale regularly, so if you’re watching, you’ll be able to stock up when the price is low. In addition, certain items go on sale at predictable times—for instance, camping gear is often cheap at the end of the summer, so this is a great time to buy flashlights and sleeping bags.Protect your food and know how to shop smart for emergency foodLosing a full fridge and freezer’s worth of food can be very expensive, not to mention unpleasant. Average estimated costs for having to ditch the contents of your refrigerator are about $150. To avoid this possibility, first, make an effort to “cook through” some of your frozen items if the disaster is one that gives some warning, such as a blizzard or hurricane. In addition, before the storm arrives, freeze water in Ziploc bags or plastic containers to take up room in your freezer and help keep things cool. If loss of power appears imminent and you are staying in your home, move the food you plan to eat to a smaller cooler with ice, then keep the fridge and freezer closed! Once power is lost, you can even place a heavy blanket or comforter around it and tape it if you want to get serious. An undisturbed freezer will keep food frozen for 1-2 days, depending on how much is in it. To ensure that your food is still safe to eat, visit How to Keep Food Safe in a Power Outage from Foodsafety.gov.As far as what food to purchase, the frugal approach is to buy or prepare food you’ll still want to eat even if the threat never comes to pass. That way, it won’t feel like money down the drain. Remember, although shelf stable food can be kept for some time, it still should be eaten every year or two, depending on the type of food.Some suggestions for food you can store longer-term include:–Granola bars–Dried fruit and nuts–Cereal or granola (eat with dried, reconstituted milk or shelf stable milk)–Canned or vacuum-packed soups, pastas, fruit, beans, and fish or meat–Jerky–Crackers, rice cakes–Nut buttersFor a disaster you can anticipate, such as a hurricane or snowstorm, it’s possible to cook a day or two ahead or purchase food that will last for a short time at room temps. For instance, try:–Homemade or bakery-made baked goods–Carrots, apples, and citrus fruit–Hard cheeses–Homemade air-popped popcorn–Tomatoes (for sandwiches, or mixed with beans or canned meats)–Dry-cured sausagesDon’t have a gas or camping stove? An inexpensive can of Sterno can heat a can of soup or beans in a pinch.Avoid ready-made “disaster preparedness” kitsThough it may seem tempting and convenient to purchase a pre-made disaster preparedness kit, the quality of the items is likely to be very low for the price paid. It will be a better bargain to buy items separately and assemble your own kit. Sites like The Sweethome carry reviews for common emergency supplies like lanterns and weather radios.Hopefully, these tips will help families prepare for a disaster without these needed preparations being an excess financial burden. Although getting ready for a potential disaster can be expensive, don’t ever forget that not preparing for a disaster can be far more so. Without light, basic medical supplies, water, or food, you may have no choice but to leave. Once a disaster is in progress, this can be not just costly, but dangerous. Stay safe out there.