Manufacturing needs problem-solvers

Posted on 16 Oct 2014 by Victoria Fitzgerald

There has been a 200% hike in demand for practical problem-solving training, according to new figures from EEF.

The year-on-year surge in interest comes as manufacturers and engineering firms shift up a gear post-recession, with many now looking to refocus attention away from fire-fighting and on to long-term quality and profitability.

The shift is extremely positive, signalling an end to the bunker mentality many businesses were forced to adopt in order to survive the depths of the downturn.

It has been fueled by firms eyeing growth and new markets, plus a trend for supply chain customers wanting to see evidence of suppliers having a robust problem-solving process in place.

According to EEF’s data, interest is split 50/50 between those looking to beef up their knowledge of a process known as 8D (8 disciplines) and those seeking to master a more proactive problem-solving process known as Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA), which can be applied to both products and processes.

Firms interested in learning the techniques come from a range of sectors, including: oil and gas, automotive, electronics, industrial components and metals.

Dr Steve Chicken CEng MIED, Manufacturing Growth Director at EEF, says: “This upsurge in interest in practical problem solving shows that companies are in a very different place to a few years ago.

“They are looking to grow and to add value to their business, products and processes. Harnessing problem solving techniques and applying them effectively within your business ticks these boxes.

“It means that you can pre-empt problems that could hit productivity and output and can trouble-shoot quickly and effectively should something critical go wrong.

“It’s also important that companies learn how to fit different processes together seamlessly, making the most of the natural links between problem solving and lean, six sigma and new product development process improvements.

“In a fast-paced, growth scenario, this type of ‘joined up thinking’ could be enough to set your company apart from the competition.”