Live Coverage of The Manufacturer Directors’ Conference

Leading industry figures, government members and academics will be discussing the trends and influences that are shaping the future of industry during the UK’s largest event of its kind, The Manufacturer Directors’ Conference (TMDC).

Running over two days and held at the ICC in Birmingham, the Conference begins this morning (November 26) and offers a varied and engaging range of topics – such as innovation and technology; reshoring; essential skill; growth and the future of British manufacturing – that will appeal to all sectors of industry.

The Manufacturer of the Year Awards 2013 at the ICC in Birmingham.
The Manufacturer of the Year Awards 2013 at the ICC in Birmingham.

On the night of November 27, the ICC will be transformed for a night of glitz as we celebrate the excellence of UK manufacturing at The Manufacturer of the Year annual awards dinner.

Along with searching Twitter for the hastag #TMDC2014, the Editorial team will be providing you with rolling coverage from all of the sessions alongside exclusive comments from the sidelines below, so remember to refresh your browser and allow us to keep you up to date.

Day Two:

Janet Godsell, professor of operations and supply chain strategy, WMG
Janet Godsell, professor of operations and supply chain strategy, WMG

9:30am –  Professor of operations and supply chain strategy at WMG, Janet Godsell discusses the role of the supply chain to enable the next generation of manufacturing.

“Yes, it’s very important to protect manufacturing and to produce in the UK, but that’s not always appropriate and we need the tools and techniques to better understand when we need to produce locally, regionally and internationally,” Godsell said.

“The UK shouldn’t be aiming to become a ‘re-shore’ nation, but a ‘right-shore’ nation.”

“The really successful companies are those that lift the bar higher by simultaneously reducing operational costs and grow at the same time.”

“A supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link and the internet is driving the next generation of business models, which ultimately could mark a shift back to localised manufacturing. Something which can only be enabled by a more contemporary approach to the supply chain.”

“The UK has the opportunity to position itself at the heart of the global supply chain network and to be at the forefront of contemporary supply chain design and orchestration.”

 Dr Hamid Mughal, director of manufacturing, Rolls-Royce
Dr Hamid Mughal, director of manufacturing, Rolls-Royce

10:20am – Dr Hamid Mughal, director of manufacturing at Rolls-Royce delivers a presentation on meeting the ‘manufacturing challenge.’

“Continuous investment in innovation delivers better products and services on behalf of customers,” Dr Mughal explained.

“Manufacturing is a global name now and there has never been a more compelling case for addressing our traditional weaknesses. Going forward the challenges are even greater, especially regarding bridging the gap between cost and capability.”

“Competitive manufacturing cannot be built on fragile foundations.”

“We can land something on a comet hundreds of miles away, but we can’t seem to control the machinery sitting next to us.”

“What kind of standards do we need? We need basic standards, but they won’t take us too far. We need, high quality best in class standards too, drawn from the core values of science and technology, so that we can take a systematic and balanced approach to robust manufacturing processes that drive step improvements.”

Dr Mughal championed the UK’s growing number of industry catapult centres, explaining their benefits include offering an industrial ‘sand pit’, a truly collaborative environment and research with both scale and pace.

“Looking ahead, manufacturers will use a wider value-chain to generate revenue from pre/post production, will utilise new metrics to inform how new value is being created and will become faster, more responsive and ultimately closer to customers.”

Conor La Grue, head of commercial, procurement and supplier sponsorship, Bloodhound SSC project
Conor La Grue, head of commercial, procurement and supplier sponsorship, Bloodhound SSC project

2:30pm – Conor La Grue, head of commercial, procurement and supplier sponsorship for the Bloodhound SSC project talks about inspiring British manufacturing.

“The project is a response to the then-Minister for Defence Equipment, Lord Drayson’s 1997 call for a new iconic engineering project to inspire a generation of young people to become involved in engineering, technology and science,” La Grue explained.

“Almost 60% of aerospace engineering skill is expected to retire over the next five years, that’s a huge challenge which shouldn’t be underestimated.”

“The car is a rolling experiment which we won’t actually understand until we run it, and that’s a really important message that we’re sharing with young people – you don’t have to be right every time, it’s a learning process.”

“We are stacking a whole host of knowns to solve our one big unknown.”

David Smith, economics editor, The Sunday Times
David Smith, economics editor, The Sunday Times

3:2opm – David Smith, economics editor of The Sunday Times, explains how to understand the balance and outlook for the UK economy, is it a new dawn or a false dawn?

“We are seven years after the worst [financial] storm in a century and it’s taken a long time to start recovering from it. But the question is, are we still in an age of instability,” Smith asked.

“The UK recovery has strengthened, with around 3% growth for this year helped by inflation coming down alongside unemployment – though 6%unemployment is still a problem – and a near-record employment. But since 2009, we’ve had a long period of falling wages.”

“Productivity for the whole of the economy has been flat, whereas productivity in manufacturing is showing growth after a slowdown period.”

“What’s the outlook? Growth risks have not gone away completely, such as Eurozone weakness, geopolitical concerns and political uncertainty in the UK, but monetary policy appears to be working. Leading indicators point to further growth, the Bank of England is still quite upbeat for prospects over the next three years, as are independent forecasters, and business investment is looking strong.”

“Manufacturing is recovering reasonably well after a period of weak growth, though industry has yet to regain pre-crisis levels. Reasons to be positive – productivity is rising, the sector is highly competitive, business investment is increasing, some re-shoring as a result of higher costs in China, for example, and any European upturn will disproportionately benefit exporters.”

Day One:

Callum Bentley - Editor, The Manufacturer
Callum Bentley – Editor, The Manufacturer

10:10am  Editor of The Manufacturer, Callum Bentley presents a summary of British manufacturing throughout 2014 and offers predications for the year ahead, based on the findings of the latest Annual Manufacturing Report (AMR).

“75%  still feeling optimistic about current state of play in UK manufacturing,” Bentley noted.

“Similar amount of companies have implemented automation in past five years.”

“98% of respondents claimed to have met their automation objectives and 71% are spending more on IT than in 2013, with the highest priority being upgrading existing IT infrastructure.”

“87% of companies have taken on new staff this year, though engineers are still the hardest position to recruit.”

Professor Sir Mike Gregory, head of the Institute of Manufacturing
Professor Sir Mike Gregory, head of the Institute of Manufacturing

10:30am – Professor Sir Mike Gregory, head of the Institute of Manufacturing discusses methods of increasing British productivity to enhance the UK manufacturing sector.

“Universities and industries can best connect by recognising the differences in expertise and the inherent challenges that exist, matching roles as appropriate, and balancing academic, professional and commercial drivers,” explained Gregory.

“The University of Cambridge’s Institute of Manufacturing seeks to find practical approaches to accelerate innovation and design.”

“High value manufacturing catapult centres help bridge universities and industry, acting independently but with strong academic links.”

“A broad approach to manufacturing can help identify productivity opportunities along the value chain.”

Bernard Molloy, global logistics director for Unipart Logistics
Bernard Molloy, global logistics director for Unipart Logistics

11:00am Bernard Molloy, global logistics director for Unipart Logistics explores capital investment – the apprenticeship paradigm.

“A team that is engaged at every level helps grow your business by generating ideas and solving problems,” Molloy highlighted.

“Does your workforce have the right competences to drive the business strategy?”

“The North has the UK’s highest density of warehouses within 70 miles of the Port of Liverpool.”

“SUPERPORT will significantly enhance the UK’s competitiveness and rebalance the country’s economy, in order for it to realise its potential.”

“With 4% of establishments in the UK reportedly having skill-shortage vacancies, the impact of such vacancies include difficulties meeting customer service objectives and developing new products, leading to a loss of business or orders to competitors.”

Nick Boles, Minister for Skills and Equalities
Nick Boles, Minister for Skills and Equalities

11:20am – Minister for Skills and Equalities Nick Boles discusses future talent.

“A country as large as the UK is needs to strike a balance between manufacturing and service provision,” claimed Boles.

“The Government must ensure that industry has access to a continual steady stream of talent armed with the skills businesses need, both hard and soft skills; but that’s no easy task and that is where the apprenticeship programme comes in.”

“We are now spending more on apprenticeships than ever before, with 840,000 young people currently in an apprenticeship; but changes still need to be made such as the programmes lasting a minimum of 12 months and employers becoming more involved with their assessment.”

Neil Parker, market strategist , RBS
Neil Parker, market strategist for RBS

12:05pm – Neil Parker, market strategist for Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) seeks to answer the answer the question that if an escape velocity can be obtained, is a balanced recovery ahead?

“It was a different set of circumstances when I spoke at last year’s event, when we were coming out of a very deep recession.”

“In terms of developed economies, the UK sits right at the top in 2014.”

“Euroland is the outlier – terrible and disappointing are words that spring to mind.” Speaking on economic activity.

“UK growth was better balanced between sectors earlier in the year, but a rebalancing has yet to happen.”

Inflation has been heading lower over recent years, but continues to head lower. Now closer to the 1% threshold than the 2% target.”

12:21pm  RBS expects rates to remain on hold until at least Q3 2015

“Even when rates do rise, increases are likely to be slow in materialising.”

“We’re now exporting the same amount to the rest of the world as we are to the Euro 28.”

12:30pm – Has the velocity been achieved?

“We are seeing a recovery in growth, but it’s not happening fast enough. Euroland is moving in the wrong direction and deflation risks are building.”

Leighton John, head of production and operational excellence at the Royal Mint
Leighton John, head of production and operational excellence at the Royal Mint

12:40pm  Leighton John, head of production and operational excellence at the Royal Mint charts his organisation’s 1,100 years of change – making the Royal Mint “the UK’s oldest manufacturer and probably the world’s third.”

“Our mission is clear, to be recognised as the world’s best mint.”

“Why is visual management important? To quickly identify a gap and to allow a leader to coach and close it. But what happens when we can’t resolve the issue? We empower our people to raise issues and problems and capture them on cards.”

Mark Hobbs, global manufacturing excellence leader, Electrolux AB
Mark Hobbs, global manufacturing excellence leader, Electrolux AB.

1:05pm  Mark Hobbs, global manufacturing excellence leader at Electrolux AB talks about operational and cultural excellence through leadership development.

“The journey to sustainable continuous improvement progresses from Zone 1 where little control is maintained and the difference between good and bad days can be vast; to Zone 2, a period of standardisation; through to finally reaching Zone 3, sustainable continuous improvement,” Hobbs commented.

“We appreciate achieving Zone 3 is difficult, so we identified leadership as a key differentiator offering staff the opportunity to learn the difference between know-how and know-why.”

“Our leadership management style involves a mindset change from focusing on work to content, learning to coach, not fix, and imparts the power of direct observation and consistency.”