60 second interview: James Selka of the MTA

Posted on 12 Jan 2015 by Callum Bentley

The Manufacturer sits down with James Selka, CEO of the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA).

James Selka CEO, MTA
James Selka CEO, MTA

You took over from Graham Dewhurst as head of the MTA in the summer. What have you identified as some of your immediate objectives in the role?

The key objective is to make sure we live up to our name – changing our name to the Manufacturing Technologies Association was vitally important, and means I have a great opportunity to establish us in representing all areas of advanced manufacturing. We’ve already made excellent progress and our membership is already expanding across the sector including Huddersfield University becoming members. This diverse membership base represents the broadest range of advanced manufacturing and is the future of the MTA. Graham did a sterling job and I’m really looking forward to being able build on his work.

Under your predecessor’s tenure, the MTA increased its membership by 30%. How will you look to engage with new members across UK manufacturing?

Since I started in June we’ve seen even further growth so we are continuing to build on the great work from Graham. We are looking to further enhance our offer and plan to engage with our members over the coming months to provide a more comprehensive and valuable service.

We are famous for MACH and the massive impact it has on our members, and we want to ensure that they know about all the great work we do, and how they benefit from it. The MTA’s Technical Committee play a leading role in both the UK and EU standards committees, and undertake research that includes the UK’s best and brightest machine tools experts – as the technology gets better their brain power is available to MTA members as a resource.

You joined the MTA with over 25 years’ manufacturing experience. What do you see as some of the opportunities and challenges in UK manufacturing at present?

This one is dead simple. As an industry we need to offer better and more confident access to automated solutions. It has been said that we are 20% behind our EU and global colleagues in productivity. Many OEM organisations already have sophisticated technology. However, the same cannot be said for all of their supply chains. The MTA can play a role as advocates to SMES to confidently engage in more automation, as well as related things such as computer modelling or creative finance solutions

There is also much more scope to what I call ‘servisation’. As an industry, we still tend to tell our customers what the offer is, such as saying a new item will be available with an 8 week lead time – we need to be offering more flexible and tailored services and options – the most successful manufacturers already do this, but it needs to become the norm. Our customers are going to demand more risk sharing, particularly as we struggle in the face of the skills shortage we know we are going to face.

This year’s MACH event attracted over 23,000 and £1.6m generated in business. Planning is already underway for 2016’s exhibition. What can you tell us about this so far?

Its 17 months away but planning is well under way and we’re already seeing lots of interest. We’re about to close the second ballot for exhibition space (November 4), for stands of less than 200 square metres. This will build on the already completed and very successful first ballot for the stands over 200 square metres – we’ve already got the big machine tools companies on board and expecting many many more.

Add to this that Airbus were the first OEM to confirm their attendance and we’ll soon be announcing a few other significant exhibitors and attendees, it all goes to highlight the important and profile of MACH, and that MACH 2016 is already shaping up to be the biggest and best MACH to date.