Dream, create, inspire

Employees from across the company made up diverse teams.

Cummins South Africa has taken upcycling to the next level with the Cummins Dream Machine initiative, which sees employees create arts and crafts from scrap parts found at the company’s Master Rebuild Centre in Johannesburg.

The project was initiated in March by MD Schuyla Goodson Bell. “I have a fundamental belief that a happy technician means a happy customer, so I spend a lot of time on the shop floor.

“The initiative resulted from a normal walkabout around the Cummins Master Rebuild Centre. The premise is that engine parts can be used to educate others about upcycling and to create jobs for local artists, crafters and artisans,” explains Bell.

To kick-off the project, Cummins employees from varying backgrounds were placed into teams, given a budget of R500, and told to let their creativity loose.

To ensure safety, all work had to be done during business hours on Cummins premises. The time spent by each employee counted towards their community service hours. In total, over 200 hours were logged by the end of June.

A judging and awards ceremony was held at the Cummins South Africa head office during September. A broad spectrum of creations were displayed and presented. These varied from objets d’art to functional items including: lampshades, candle holders, ice bucket holders, photo frames, jewellery, tables with glass tops and wine coolers.

Cummins employees show off some of the creations they made from waste material.Contestants were invited to share with the judges: the inspiration behind their creations; the uses and benefits of their creations; which parts and techniques were applied; and the link to education, the environment and social justice.

Awards for innovation, originality, creativity and employee choice were handed out, but the overall winner was Team 3, The Design Masters, whose main piece was a side table created from crank shafts, con-rods and pistons. The team also created a “lamp robot” for load shedding.

“It’s great to be able to do something creative using scrap materials. We want the young people to be able to sell these sorts of crafts,” says the team’s Stephen Radzilani.

The judges were specifically selected with the aim of taking the Dream Machine Initiative further. They included: Raina Washington, wife of Patrick Gaspard, United States Ambassador to South Africa; Masana Chikeka, Cultural Development, Department Arts and Culture; Eugenie Drake, founder of Piece; and Nomvula Mashoai-Cook, executive director, Mpumalanga Traditional Art Market.

“The goal is to create public-private partnerships. Some of the judges are helping us to identify local crafters to get involved, and we’re looking for non-government organisations that can help us take this initiative forward,” explains Goodsen Bell.

“My dream is to make this a global project and to partner with other players, such as small, medium and micro enterprises, to build something sustainable. It can change the landscape and define Cummins differently in South Africa and the rest of the continent,” concludes Goodson Bell.

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