Excellence in UK manufacturing is a hot topic for The Manufacturer and for government. Steven Barr of The Manufacturer’s expert advisory service, Hennik Edge looks beyond the headlines at the fundamentals of manufacturing excellence and the power of the extended network.
This autumn should see a revitalising and refunding of government support for UK manufacturing. The interim report of the Industrial Digitisation Review was published in July.
This cites ‘multiplier effects’ of industrial digital technologies (IDT) and services, including automation, real-time monitoring and additive manufacturing.
The final report will need to set out in more detail a strategy for IDT adoption by smaller businesses that require a rapid return on investment rather more than they need UK leadership, business support and the creation of new industries.
“A renaissance for the UK as a nation of creators and makers” will need an effective network of support at all levels of the supply chain and involve government, institutions, financiers and technologists.
The foundations of manufacturing excellence are not always obvious beneath the architecture of systems, processes and people. Many have adopted lean and continuous improvement as a way of life. Many invest in their people, in training and apprenticeships. These important factors are now considered as basic practice.
During my recent time spent as a judge for The Manufacturer MX Awards, seeing inside some of the UK’s most successful manufacturers and talking to the people who make them what they are has highlighted for me some deeper underpinnings of excellence.
People are our greatest assets – leaders of all good companies large and small know that. Better companies engage effectively with suppliers and customers, taking advantage of IDT where it makes sense.
The best manufacturers recognise the importance of learning with as wide as possible a network of trusted people. Hence, we need to reach out not just to our workforce but also our suppliers, customers, partners and peers – indeed anyone in any organisation who will demonstrate trust through sharing their success story.
That means bringing the outside world in, and sharing to learn to improve. It is perhaps too easy for manufacturing leaders to say: “my business is unique”. Logically that’s true – UK manufacturing is wonderfully diverse and the combination of markets, customers, regions, technologies, skills, resources, finances and many other factors vary enormously.
And yet emotionally we need to see the potential in the strategies of companies that are excellent at least in part, and the journeys and behaviours of their people. We should be inclined – even inspired – to learn from the experience of others.
Pointers for learning:
Here are my three pointers for learning from excellence, all gratefully learned from my network of great people and shamelessly repurposed:
- Discover your potential, without limits – don’t limit your view based on the few seemingly good things you come across. Encourage and be open to ideas from employees, suppliers, customers and peers. Don’t commit too quickly to a narrow pathway. Share your experience and networks of trusted people with others, selflessly.
- Refine your options, systemically – work out what’s best for your business across all of the outcomes that matter to you. Build trust in people and strategies through engagement, challenge and comparison. Cultivate an extended network of people who will give you the breadth of evidence you need for assured decisions.
- Empower your people, improve continuously – empower people to make a difference and share success. Measure performance relevantly, automatically and continuously. Continue to share your experiences and be open to even better ways of doing things. Then keep it up, so that learning becomes a way of life.
There you have it. Learning is the foundation of excellence in manufacturing. And extended networking is the key to learning.
But how can busy decision-makers find the time?
The Manufacturer’s greatest assets are the people both inside the organisation and in the tens of thousands of manufacturers and supporters of manufacturing we are in touch with.
Increasingly, we are supporting other networked organisations such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre to promote better engagement between digital companies and manufacturers. And our Leaders Conference and Smart Factory Expo will be in Liverpool, the centre of the UK’s largest manufacturing region and hotbed of digital expertise.
The Manufacturer supports UK manufacturing excellence through high quality research, informed content in print and in digital media, events and awards that highlight the very best thinking and practice, and through expert advisory services.
We’re using digital technologies to enhance and accelerate engagement with and between manufacturers and expert solution providers, for example in our ground-breaking development of The Manufacturer Collaboratory.
The diagram above illustrates the complementary nature of The Manufacturer’s well-known products and the expert advisory services led by Hennik Edge. The connection between them is the deep expertise and drive for excellence of The Manufacturer’s rich network of readers, attenders, contributors and supporters who share our passion for the industry.
Wherever you are in your journey to manufacturing excellence and beyond, The Manufacturer has the insight and the extended network to help you learn quickly. Join us at The Manufacturer events around the country to engage with great people from excellent manufacturers and solution providers.
To take that engagement to a deeper level of expert advice please get in touch with Hennik Edge where my team is ready to help you and your business to succeed.
Contact Hennik Edge:
020 7401 6033