Leaders Conference 2017

As happens every year, this event brought together leaders from the manufacturing and engineering industries for two-days of insightful discussion. Top-tier speakers and contributors offered a comprehensive digital manufacturing bench-marking and knowledge-sharing experience.

popular roundtable discussions on topics - image courtesy of The Manufacturer.
In addition to the main plenary sessions, there was a series of very popular roundtable discussions on topics – image courtesy of The Manufacturer.

It’s almost impossible to try and summarise a summit of this calibre, so here we can only offer a snapshot of the superb range of speakers from the cream of British manufacturing, reflecting a range of home-grown and global businesses.

In addition to the main plenary sessions, there was a series of very popular roundtable discussions on topics from real-time data capture and high-growth manufacturing, to business turnarounds, and SMEs & 4IR.

At just 30 minutes in length, each turbo-charged session offered a fast-track to knowledge from peers and expert hosts who led each table’s discussion.

This article first appeared in the December / January issue of The Manufacturer magazine. To subscribe, please click here. 

Digital Manufacturing Week 2018

Digital Manufacturing Week – including Leaders Conference and Smart Factory Expo – returns next year on 14-15 November, Exhibition Centre Liverpool.

Visit the website and register today: themanufacturerleadersconference.com/register-tmalc

The power of connectivity

On the first day, Asif Moghal, manufacturing industry manager, Autodesk, used his keynote to discuss how connectivity can create a competitive advantage in even the most traditional industries.

He detailed the case study of A-Safe, an innovative UK manufacturer of flexible safety barriers and bollards for warehouses, airports and car parks. “A-Safe decided to think differently and bring science to safety, resulting in their deformable, flexible range of barriers. It was an innovation which quickly saw them become market leaders,” Moghal told the audience.

However, that wasn’t good enough for A-Safe. They didn’t want to be mere market leaders, they wanted to achieve market separation, opening a gap that their competitors would struggle to close.

So, A-Safe created its RackEye System – a simple, smart, connected sensor attached to warehouse racking that offers real-time monitoring and damage detection. The patented system records every impact, but only alerts via an app when an impact has caused damage to racking legs.

Read the full article here.


ERP in the cloud

The power of ERP to modernise a business was discussed by Matthew Grey, managing director of OSL Cutting Technologies. He set out the steps he and his team took towards successful implementation of a system that offered them all the elements they wanted, from better reporting, customer support, automation and customisation.

“The solution had to support each of our core competencies which drive competitive advantage: purchasing, manufacturing, distribution, reporting and acquisition. It also needed to be cloud-based and scalable, with easy upload functionality, flexible software, a fully integrated solution and strong project management methodology.

“In addition, we wanted strong reporting and dashboard capabilities, and an open multi-platform with plugin modules. The Oracle|Netsuite solution ticked all of those boxes,” Grey explained.

Read the full article here.


Digitalisation: investment, the risk & return

How can IT be seen as an enabler, rather than a cost? was the timely question posed by Dayne Turbitt, SVP of Enterprise at Dell EMC. Data has the power to disrupt entire industries, with 33% of industrial leaders expecting their business to be disrupted by digitally enabled competitors by 2018.

A key part of digitalisation Turbitt said, was the Internet of Things (IoT), which is generating unimaginable volumes of data thanks to the rapidly falling cost of computer power. IoT is already creating tangible benefits for industrial businesses, in areas such as quality control, process optimisation, predictive maintenance, and asset monitoring.

He said it could fundamentally change UK manufacturing, enabling the sector to become up to 25% more productive by 2025.

Read the full article here.


4IR: How can you avoid sleep-walking into the future?

KPMG’s Dale Williams said there are three principles executives should understand to ensure they don’t invest in technology that doesn’t meet their business needs.

First, forget everything you think you know about technology implementation. None of the old rules apply in the modern industrial landscape. Second, ask who in your business owns the 4IR agenda or drives the strategy?

“If the answer is everyone, then in reality, it’s no one,” Williams warned.  “There are no 4IR experts, the pace of change is just too fast. Line managers and production engineers should be empowered to gain that knowledge.”

Third, ‘you can’t experiment forever’. There is an endemic lack of clarity and confidence, particularly regarding the relevance of technologies – past, present and future. Confidence comes from proven return on investment, a far more important metric than features and functionality.

Read the full article here.


Practical lessons from GKN’s digital journey

Key lessons, challenges and advice from GKN Driveline’s digital journey were provided by its worldwide lead for Industry 4.0, Mohammed Zammer. GKN’s digital journey only began 18 months ago, Zammer explained, but its progress so far has given rise to some valuable lessons.

First, stakeholder involvement – achieve early buy-in from stakeholders, plants need to lead and own, senior management needs to be aligned and middle management needs to be won over. When it comes to skills and resources, identify where you have a shortage, turn local pilots into global standards and encourage innovation, while ensuring alignment.

Communication matters, so create a vision and communicate it effectively. Hold regular knowledge sharing reviews, offer regular updates to shareholders and share success stories across all levels and functions.

Managing expectations is important – you must clearly define your expectations, remember that not all pilots will be successful, and while you cannot achieve everything overnight, do start now.

Last, when it comes to the actual technology avoid getting lost in a ‘technology maze’, understand that there are no perfect solutions in the market, accept the limitations of your chosen tools and standardise as much as possible.

Read the full article here.