The Manufacturer speaks with Dr Julie Madigan, CEO of The Manufacturing Institute.
The UK manufacturing scene has changed significantly over the past 20 years since The Manufacturing Institute was conceived. How has the Institute changed over this time?
Some things haven’t changed at all in the past two decades. Recruiting the right people, training them well, keeping them, knowing how to run a business efficiently to profit while looking to the future are all as important as ever.
One of the biggest changes we are seeing is the “democratisation” of design and manufacture. Open innovation trends fuelled by open source design and software, coupled with cost reductions in machinery, and the emergence of global networks sharing know-how and innovation capability will lower the barriers to enter manufacturing.
This is being referred to as the next industrial revolution. This will help generate a much larger number of smaller manufacturing businesses, which will result in a greater number of manufacturing jobs. This knowledge-based economy will play into Europe’s capabilities of design and innovation and so increase Europe’s competitiveness against the Far East.
What do you think will be the biggest change-driver for manufacturing in 2015?
Manufacturers are turning their attention to growth as we edge out of recession. The prospects for the Eurozone are dampening expectations however. Smaller companies, will need support to underpin growth and react to the increasing skills and talent shortages.
Investment constraints are also capping the potential of our manufacturing base. We are seeing an increase in the number of privately funded deals happening in the manufacturing sector, which bodes well. The arrival of the devolution debate is welcome, providing it can be directed towards the key constraints on business growth and not hijacked by intermediary structures.
What areas are you seeing board-level manufacturing executives struggle to cope with most right now?
The skills gap is our most pressing issue. If we are to grow this sector and exploit the opportunities it brings, what levels of skill will be needed and how will this be achieved? Perhaps a more radical approach is required.
The skills shortage and lack of entrants to the manufacturing sector is happening at a time when the sector is due to boom. The Institute prides itself on the programmes it nurtures such as the Fab Lab and the Make It programme.
Are there any new projects in the pipeline?
We have just launched our Enterprise Excellence Framework, which has been developed from 20 years of face-to-face experience helping thousands of manufacturing companies to be the best that they can be.
It is a proven method to guide organisations through the complex process of achieving and sustaining world-class performance. The Framework drives excellence into every corner of the business and establishes a culture that ensures every individual is committed to strategic objectives, inspiring and motivating them to take part in the company’s transformation and subsequent long-term success.
We’ve also been talking to manufacturers in Yorkshire and we’ll be launching a series of workshops there in the summer. Watch this space!
You’ve been CEO of The Manufacturing Institute since 1995. What, in your opinion, has been the greatest achievement for the Institute?
I’m proud that we are still going strong and that we haven’t been afraid to take some risks over the years from opening the first UK Fab Lab five years ago to being the first partner of the Shingo Institute in Europe.
We have helped more organisations achieve recognition than any other Shingo affiliate, including the first two sites recognised in Europe, Ultraframe and BAE systems, and the first three, full Shingo Prize Winners in Europe, Abbott Vascular, Depuy Synthes and Newsprinters Eurocentral.
Over the past 20 years we have educated more than 50,000 manufacturers, worked in over 9,000 manufacturing companies across the world, achieved over £1 billion of quality, cost and delivery impacts, worked with 60,000 children through our Make IT challenges.
We hear success stories from manufacturing companies we work with every day. Making a difference is our greatest achievement.