Tech leaders to speak at National Manufacturing Conference

Posted on 16 Jan 2015 by Jonny Williamson

CEO of EEF, Terry Scuoler has announced Infor as a partner for its National Manufacturing Conference, helping to shape our vision of the future.

Pam Murphy, chief operating officer, Infor
Pam Murphy, chief operating officer, Infor.

Very few in industry can have failed to notice the increasing depth of collaboration between technology and manufacturing. This collaboration is helping to drive innovation, efficiency and growth in what many are already calling the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Technology is vital to the future of manufacturing, which is why I am delighted to welcome Infor onboard as a sponsor for this year’s National Manufacturing Conference in London on February 26.

Infor is a leading provider of business application software and serves more than 73,000 customers worldwide. Its customer base includes 19 of the top 20 aerospace companies and all of the top ten high tech companies worldwide.

These credentials make it an ideal partner for a conference that will be looking in-depth at the impact of technology on manufacturing and the opportunities and challenges it presents. Infor will be bringing its expertise to bear with its chief operating officer, Pam Murphy, helping to lead the debate as part of a panel of industry speakers.

Infor is also co-sponsoring a report with IBM, Manufacturing, Britain’s Future, which has been specially-commissioned for the conference.

This too looks at how technology is a major driver of the 4th industrial revolution – dubbed Industry 4.0 – and how manufacturers, government and policy-makers need to react in order to ensure that Britain remains at the forefront of change.

It is vital that we grasp the opportunities that lie ahead and lay the right groundwork to ensure we take a leading role.

To find out more and to book a place at the conference, click here.

Not just another revolution: Industry 4.0

Paul Carreiro, executive vice-president and managing director, EMEA, Infor
Paul Carreiro, executive vice-president and managing director, EMEA, Infor.

We now face the dawn of a 4th industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) as digitisation takes hold,  argues Paul Carreiro, Infor’s executive vice-president and managing director, EMEA.

But what makes digitisation so special? It opens up new ways to respond efficiently to customer needs with methods that can fix problems (almost) automatically.

How is this done? By converging a specific set of new technologies and strategies, grounded in a customer-centric approach.

Firstly the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) and cyber-physical systems such as sensors and wearable technology has enabled machines, computers and even data itself to have an active role in the manufacturing and production processes.

Secondly the development of Big Data and powerful analytics means that these systems can process huge data sets and that information can be quickly translated to intelligent courses of action.

Lastly the communications infrastructure on which these “conversations“ rely has become so secure that it can be trusted with business critical aspects such as production.

Overarching all of this there are two notable pressures on manufacturers. Firstly, speed: the timeframes for innovation are getting shorter. Secondly, complexity: due to the increased automation and networking, every process has far more ‘moving parts‘.

From a business perspective there is also the need to recruit, retain and develop a specific set of collaborative problem-solving skills. If Industry 4.0 is grounded in identifying customer requirements and the issues they face, it becomes an inherently collaborative process to solve those challenges. Sadly many of those skills are still very difficult to find.

Broadly speaking there are three categories of these challenges: market, business and technology. Market challenges could include the entry of a new competitor or a new geography opening up. Business challenges are typically more “internal” – a change to the business model, or threats and opportunities presented by partners and suppliers. Challenges presented by technology itself are simply a consideration of the benefits that can arise from better management of the digital components of existing systems.

That management is dependent upon the solid, flexible integration of systems. A standards-based framework that provides the technological foundation to build business processes and workflows throughout and beyond the Smart Factory is critical. Likewise, the interface between people and technology has to be quick, intuitive and reliable.

In addition, change management will be a vital part of Industry 4.0 success. As employees’ areas of responsibility change from the management of standard tasks to tracking automated processes and detecting errors and fixing them, the ability of staff will be to solve complex problems will demand substantial re-training.

These are challenging goals. Thankfully Industry 4.0 is less of a revolution and more of an evolution in many small steps that will truly change how manufacturing and industry does business.