Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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What's the PneuDrive Challenge About?


The aim of the PneuDrive Challenge, a competition which was set up in 2008, is to give the best mechanical, electronic and mechatronic engineering students a chance to use their talent to bring together engineering theory, the latest technology in drive engineering, pneumatics and business reality.

By creating a competition environment that requires proposing, designing and assembling innovative engineering ideas, students are given an opportunity to experience a wide range of problems and project issues that they would typically need to solve in the real world. The practical experience of analysing, debating, designing and assembling an innovative engineering idea, gives participating students business and engineering experience that goes way beyond typical lecture room experiences.

The sponsors of the 2014 competition, SEW-EURODRIVE and Pneumax recognise the importance of business in partnering with higher education institutions to help address the enormous pressures that they are under to prepare skilled engineering students for the labour market.

Need more information? 

If you are a student, lecturer or university that wants to enquire about entering the competition, click here to send us an email for more information.

Click here to download the competition profile.

What's Up For Grabs?

The prize for 2014 is an all expenses paid trip for four students to the Head Offices of SEW Eurodrive in Germany, and Pneumax in Italy.

The "winning university" also has an opportunity to order R 100,000 worth of SEW-EURODRIVE and Pneumax equipment.

Universities who submit final entries qualify for R 40,000 worth of free SEW-EURODRIVE and Pneumax equipment for their universities.

Follow us on Social Networks


Join the competition's Facebook Group to connect with people who are interested in the PneuDrive Challenge and engineering competitions in general.

Follow the competition's LinkedIn company page to stay in touch with competition updates and news. You'll also be able to make contact with business people who support and endorse the learning and business objectives of the competition.

Competition Guidelines


The competition closes at 17:00 on 13th October 2014.
Electronic copies of the project are preferred and can be handed in at any SEW-EURODRIVE or Pneumax branch office.
Refer to the website for specific branch, address and contact details.

Judging will take place on 5th and 6th November 2014.
Winners will be announced by 7th November 2014.

Access the PneuDrive Challenge 2014 Rules and Guidelines document to review the framework and criteria for this year's competition.

There are some fundamental guidelines laid out in the Rules document, for example:

  • Show how SEW-EURODRIVE and Pneumax products can be used in your application.
  • The application that is designed must be one which creates business interest and shows the accuracy of the sponsor’s products.
  • Show an awareness of how Fieldbus Communications and Remote SCADA communication can be used to manage and monitor the application.
  • Consider how the remote management of data can be used to monitor and manage the application.
  • Consider energy efficiency in the design. Include an energy efficiency calculation in your project.
  • Show how your design does not influence the process and production flow.
  • Include product life cycle calculations.
  • Safety and tolerance issues.
  • Your design must show how the application can be accessed and managed remotely.

Media Information and Press Releases


An important element of the experiential learning opportunity that is created by the PneuDrive Challenge is that it also introduces to students the value of generating press and media information about their designs and efforts. This in turn helps students create an online presence for themselves which will be valuable when they finally graduate and start the business end of their careers.

Use the link below to view the types of press information pieces that are published about the competition and the students that may have taken part:

Click here for a summary of press information relating to the competition.

Recent News

Recent News and Updates

Use the content and links below to keep up to date with recent news relating to the competition:

Sep 2014 - Engineering design competition introduces students to mechatronics

Article published in Vector - Launched in 2008, the PneuDrive Challenge aims to uplift the South African engineering industry and to enhance the standard of graduate engineers.

Aug 2014 - Eight years of excellence

Article published online by SA Instrumentation - The PneuDrive team starts each year with a series of roadshows to each university, where the principles of the challenge are explained, products are demonstrated and students are invited to participate and submit a design report. In essence students need to show in their report an outline of their idea, explain what the machine will do on a practical engineering level and calculate a basic budget.

Aug 2014 - The opportunity in supply chain tech

Article published in African Cleaning Review - African students exploring the realities of warehousing and packaging. In the 2013 Outlook on the Logistics and Supply Chain Industry report, the World Economic Forum emphasised the importance of adapting logistical systems to climate change as an important trend for consideration.

Aug 2014 - 8 Years of Excellence

Article published in print and online - Motion Control - Motion Control spoke to some members of the PneuDrive team to find out how things are going. This year’s theme is Greener Warehousing Logistics. Sponsors SEW-Eurodrive and Pneumax have changed the rules slightly so that each university can now have three submissions. Four of the universities have made the PneuDrive Challenge part of their curriculum.

July 2014 - Young engineers re-thinking greener logistics

The South African logistics industry is becoming increasingly aware of the need for greener supply chains, and who and what technology can be accessed to not only increase demands on the environment, but also possibly influence the total cost of ownership.

Click here to read the full article.

21 May 2014 - Green warehousing logistics

Article published online - Instrumentation and Control - The theme for this year’s PneuDrive Challenge is green warehousing logistics. SEW-Eurodrive marketing and communications manager, Rene Rose explains: “Students have to identify and analyse specific problems relating to retrieval, conveying, placement, packing, palletising and loading within a warehouse and design a solution. They have to demonstrate how their design could improve the problem, as well as how it has taken the environment into consideration.”

08 May 2014 - 2014 PneuDrive Challenge theme announced

Article published online - Motion and Control - Sponsors and organisers of the PneuDrive Challenge – SEW-Eurodrive and Pneumax – recently announced the theme for the 2014 PneuDrive competition, green warehousing logistics.

30 Apr 2014 - Greener Logistics Systems are Unavoidable

Automation of warehouses can play an important role in ensuring that the South African logistics industry can position itself as a global player. Automated warehouses not only provide the benefit of faster, more accurate and efficient retrieval and despatch of goods, but are also critical to meeting greener supply chain requirements.

Click here to read the full article.

09 April 2014 - 2013 PneuDrive competition drives a change for greener mining

Article published online - SA Instrumentation and Control - Winners of the 2013 PneuDrive competition officially received their certificates at a special awards ceremony hosted in Johannesburg by the event sponsors and organisers – SEW-Eurodrive and Pneumax.

04 April 2014 - Engineering News article - Competition focuses on green savings and efficiencies

Recent article published announces the start of the 2014 competition and highlights the theme for the the year - Green warehousing logistics.

Click here to view the article.

Media Partners and Endorsements


A range of media partners appreciate the value of publishing regular updates and newsflashes regarding competing universities and the designs they are working on.

South African Institite of Electrical Engineers

SAIEE have endorsed the PneuDrive Challenge.

South African Institution of Mechanical Engineering

SAIMechE have endorsed the PneuDrive Challenge.

The South African Fluid Power Association

The latest industry association to come on board with endorsing the competition.

The 2013 PneuDrive Challenge winners are:


CPUT Wins Greener Mining Design Challenge

The panel of engineering specialists who gathered together to review entries for the PneuDrive Challenge 2013 Engineering Design Competition, concluded that an elegant design from two students from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology was the best entry.












1st Place – Cape Peninsula University of Technology – Waste Granite to Cobblestone Machine

After two intensive days of judging the panel concluded and agreed that this entry presented the best technical solution for solving a real-life business and environmental problem. Students Christian Mpiana and Gareth Hardman submitted a design that proposes the rehabilitation of abandoned granite mines by turning surplus “waste” granite blocks into usable cobblestones. These can then in turn be used to develop access roads and walkways in rural areas. Apart from the direct benefit paved roads and paths will bring to these areas, they proposed that other possible business interventions around the system could generate job creation. Lecturer Francois Hoffman expressed that his students winning the competition was the highlight of his year.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology's winning team:

Gareth Hardman, Christian Mpiana and lecturer Francois Hoffman.

2nd Place – Tshwane University of Technology – The Dust Buster

The difference between first and second place was a mere 3 percentage points – the closest margin in the history of the competition. However, students Alexander Jansen van Vuuren, Francois van Dyk, Myron van Staden and Daniel Posthumus, can be proud of the fact that their design won the Innovation Prize. They submitted a unique design concept that combines the use of low frequency sound waves, extraction fans and wireless systems, to address the problem of removing dust in a mining environment.

3rd Place – WITS University – Tailings Dam Water Solar Still

Students Gregory Behrens, Travis Bennett, Paul Hon, and Thomas Wyszkowski-Korwin submitted an equally unique design concept that focussed specifically on addressing water losses in tailings dams.

The 2012 PneuDrive Challenge winners are:


TUT Crosses the PneuDrive Challenge Learning and Business Bridge First

Judging for the PneuDrive Challenge 2012 Engineering Design Competition has come to an end and the dominance that Stellenbosch University has displayed over the last 4 years was broken by an innovative and ground-breaking design from the Tshwane University of Technology.

The Roof Tile Tyre Cutter by WITS students, Bradley Rautenbach, Rohan Graham, Greg Whitbread and Rowan Carstensen came up with an innovative and refreshing way of looking at recycling tyres world-wide - and placed second.

The Karoo Seed Planter by WITS students Madikoti Motimele, Meshi Hamese, Lefa Madire and Mduduzi Masuku designed a machine that would allow a remote operator to extract GPS coordinates from platforms such as Google Maps to plan and navigate a seedling planter to a selected area - placed third.


High-Speed Automated Seeding

Students Mias Swanepoel, Byron Nielson, JP Joubert and Gerrit Botha highlighted the reality of hunger in the world. Their research into the area of plant yields revealed that significant improvements could be made in the areas of seed propagation and planting. They designed a high-speed, automated seeding machine that brings together new research in “arboriculture hydrogels" and mass production (10 000 trays per day), in order to improve the process of preparing seeds for planting. 

By reducing the costs associated with seeding and improving the productivity and planting efficiency of greenhouse farms, food production can be increased with potential lower costs.


Tshwane Universty of Technology's Winning Team:

Mias Swanepoel, Byron Nielson, JP Joubert and Gerrit Botha, with lecturer Johan Benade.

The 2011 PneuDrive Challenge winners are:

 Stellenbosch Score a Close Win Over TUT and WITS

After two intensive days of judging, the panel of judges concluded and agreed that Stellenbosch University’s Sunnyside Packer was the winning entry. The Air Bot design from the Tshwane University of Technology was a very close second (the first time in the history of the 4 year competition that scores have been so close), and the Automated Restaurant from WITS placed third.

The Blitz Burger from the University of Johannesburg received were commended for their innovative ideas.

SunnySide Apple Packer

Students Norval Geldenhuys, Hardus Scheepers, Cornel Liebenberg and Daniël Malan delivered a design report that is essentially a "high-speed, accurate and selective apple packer".

They noted that because apple packing is currently done by hand, many potential problems with labour – including inconsistent quality – are experienced by farms and distributors.
Their proposed packing machine is designed to improve the marketability of first-grade boxed apples. This is accomplished by boxing “red” apples (any apples with some red colouring) with their best-looking and best-coloured side facing upwards.
Packing apples in this manner produces a much more desirable box than a randomly packed box, an obvious benefit to retailers.

Stellenbosch's Winning Team, from left to right:
Prof Anton Basson; Norval Geldenhuys; Hardus Scheepers; Cornel Liebenberg; Daniël Malan

Click here to read the Technical and Design Summary of their Sunny Side Packer.

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