SMAS: swapping old for new to gain efficiencies

Posted on 3 Aug 2016 by The Manufacturer

It’s been two years since the last SMAS conference in 2014, however this year’s event - relocating to the Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld – promises to be even bigger and better, says Nick Shields – director of the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) at Scottish Enterprise.

The team at SMAS hasn’t stood still since the last conference – we’ve been working diligently to evolve our offering to best meet the various new challenges which businesses face, and I’m glad to report that it’s been a fruitful time.

Nick Shields, director, the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) at Scottish Enterprise.
Nick Shields, director, the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) at Scottish Enterprise.

For starters, we’ve created a new asset review service, as well as the Business Improvement Academy. But more on that later – first let’s look forward to the coming conference.

As usual, we have a fantastic programme of inspirational keynote speakers and practical workshops, and this year we’ve added in an optional programme of site visits to allow delegates to link best practice during these ‘go look see’ visits to what they’ll learn during the conference.

Also new this year is the Fringe Event, where delegates will hear quick fire pitches from a range of providers who can support their business.

One of the things I find most exciting and inspirational about the SMAS conference is seeing business leaders from such a diverse range of industries and sectors sharing ideas about the common challenges and opportunities they face as manufacturers.

It’s one of the few events I know of where you can see the MD of long-established family bakers swapping experiences with the head of a global engineering giant or a start-up craft beer entrepreneur.

That’s why our themes and workshops focus on issues that are common across manufacturing, including leadership; investment; supply chains; energy efficiency, and technology and innovation.

SMAS Conference 2016

SMAS’s biennial conference, held on September 7 -8 at the Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld, will have a key role to play in supporting the Action Plan.

The highly interactive agenda will mirror the key themes set out in the Plan to give delegates insights; examples; inspiration; tools, and networks to support them to make a productivity step-change in their businesses.

To find out more and register for the event, visit the website

One major  challenge for manufacturing businesses, whatever their scale or sector, is that one of the most expensive decisions they have to make is if and when to invest in new plant and equipment, how to guage what difference it will make to their bottom line, and what’s available on the market.

Manufacturing continues to be a vital component of our economy. It provides more than half of Scotland’s international exports, half of our research and development spend and employs nearly 190,000 people.

However, comparable economies continue to out-perform Scotland, particularly when it comes to making capital investment in manufacturing. If we want Scottish businesses to be globally competitive, we must support them to make informed capital investments in their business.

Investing now means future productivity and competitive gains. Working together, we can ensure Scottish manufacturers remain globally competitive.

Manufacturing Asset Review

That’s why, last month, we launched one of the most direct and practical ways we can support manufacturing businesses – our new Manufacturing Asset Review service which helps Scottish manufacturers identify where they need to invest to build their global competitiveness.

Receipts, accounts, calculator, finance
Comparable economies continue to out-perform Scotland, particularly when it comes to making capital investment in manufacturing.

The review is a structured way of reviewing and planning asset management. It looks at all aspects of a manufacturing business to fully understand the impact of equipment on capacity, performance and productivity.

The service is free to all manufacturers and typically takes between a half day and two days depending on the size and complexity of the business.

But the support doesn’t end when the review is complete. Following the review, we encourage and support businesses to use the recommendations to develop compelling investment plans to help drive their competitiveness through plant, machinery and new technology options to aid their overall effectiveness and productivity.

Companies can be referred to potential sources of capital expenditure funding to help any investment recommended by the asset review, such as Scottish Enterprise’s Regional Selective Assistance grants and high street banks.

They can also be referred on to sources of specialist support, such as the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) a collaborative venture between the University of Strathclyde; Scottish Enterprise; the UK Government, and leading multinational engineering firms, and is one of only seven elite  centres that form the UK High Value Manufacturing Catapults – the catalyst for the future growth and success of manufacturing in the UK.

more can be done right now to bridge the gaps that are slowing productivity down
More can be done right now to bridge the gaps that are slowing productivity down.

Business Improvement Academy

Another common challenge for all businesses is how to lead and drive your company to continually improve.  So, another of the opportunities you’ll hear about at the SMAS conference is the Business Improvement Academy, which helps ambitious and growing companies embed a culture of continuous improvement, boost productivity and become more competitive.

The SMAS conference is the only event of its kind in Scotland, bringing together manufacturing professionals, public sector and stakeholders to debate, learn and network.  I look forward to seeing you there!

For more info:

To book your place at the 2016 SMAS conference, go to or call 01738 828524. Email: [email protected]

The Manufacturing Asset Review service is one of the first milestones achieved as part of Scotland’s strategy for manufacturing – A Manufacturing Future for Scotland – which was unveiled in February 2016.  To book an asset review, visit or call 0845 607 8787.

The next Business Improvement Academy event takes place on September 22, 2016.  Find out more and register here.