The Manufacturer: Top 10 interviews & podcasts of 2019

The Manufacturer regularly sits down with industrial business owners, decision-makers, commentators and sector experts to discuss where they see future opportunities and unpick what keeps them up at night.

Here, The Manufacturer counts down our most read, listened to, shared and referenced conversations of the past 12 months.

Henrik von Scheel: In conversation with the ‘Father of Industry 4.0’
“Manufacturing is the economic backbone for every advanced economy,” says Henrik von Scheel.

1. Henrik von Scheel: In conversation with the ‘Father of Industry 4.0’

Success may have many parents, but Industry 4.0 has only one: Henrik von Scheel.

The originator of the term ‘Industry 4.0’ talks to The Manufacturer about where production is heading – and why UK industry has a long-term competitive advantage.

2. Why industrial strategy must not become the victim of politics

Confidence in elected politicians is at an all-time low, certainly within living memory.

In this edition of The Manufacturer podcast, Nick Peters and his guest Chris White – who knows a thing or two about how cruel politics can be – discuss why manufacturers must press politicians of all stripes not to let a positive industrial strategy for the UK fall foul of petty tribalism.

3. In conversation with Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT

In the last few days of September, just as the UK became embroiled in a constitutional crisis over Brexit, industry bodies representing national automotive industries all over the EU issued a statement that insisted the security of their industry rests on the UK reaching a Brexit deal with the EU.

Alarmingly, the government maintains that in the event of a ‘No Deal’, even if there is less than 100% free flow of goods at the border, the automotive industry would not be too badly affected.

Mike Hawes sits down with Nick Peters to outline the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ deep concerns that the UK automotive sector’s possible fate, and the myriad of other challenges it faces.

4. ‘Schools are very good at the S&M part of STEM… it’s T&E where there’s a real problem’

The need for a steady stream of fresh young talent into manufacturing has never been more acute, so National Apprenticeship Week 2019 was marked with some sense of purpose.

Yet manufacturers remain critical of the existing system and complain of schools being difficult to engage with and colleges doing a poor job of teaching apprenticeships. Some manufacturers simply make their own rules.

Nick Peters sits down with Ian Green, senior controller of the Nissan Skills Foundation, to talk about his own apprenticeship, his move into training and his engagement with tens of thousands of schoolchildren ever since.

Ian Green celebrating National Apprenticeship Day at the House of Lords with (L-R) Eden McGlen from Unipres, and Rachel Whitworth, Charlotte Parks and Emma Coulson from Nissan.

Ian Green celebrating National Apprenticeship Day at the House of Lords with (L-R) Eden McGlen from Unipres, and Rachel Whitworth, Charlotte Parks and Emma Coulson from Nissan.


5. Juergen Maier on retirement and unfinished business

Juergen Maier may have retired as CEO of Siemens UK at the end of 2019, but he says this simply marks a change in career, not an end.

For this instalment of The Manufacturer podcast, Nick Peters, spoke to Juergen about what the future holds for him, the sector and the government-backed, industry-led Made Smarter initiative he was so instrumental in driving.

6. Can Make UK make UK manufacturing great again?

During the course of the National Manufacturing Conference in February, the organisers EEF announced a change of name, a change of brand and a more sharply defined mission that will make them more attuned to the needs of the modern age of digital manufacturing. And thus, the venerable 100-year-old organisation became Make UK.

It wasn’t the only item on the agenda at the packed conference. Brexit hung like a dark cloud over proceedings, as did perennial challenges such as productivity, skills and finance.

Nick Peters sat down with chief executive Stephen Phipson to discuss the issues.

7. Ian Callum: In conversation with an automotive design legend

From humble Scottish roots, Ian Callum has impacted a global industry, re-imagined the Jaguar brand and along the way created icons many of us lust to own or drive.

Paul Stead was privileged to spend 90 minutes with the – until very recently – director of design at Jaguar’s HQ in Coventry.

8. The female engineer busting manufacturing myths

katy toms - image katy toms
Katy recently led a project to build a STEM classroom at a school in Malawi, Southeast Africa – image courtesy of Katy Toms.

Making STEM careers accessible for everyone and busting the myths surrounding engineering and manufacturing jobs are long-standing issues for industry.

Maddy White spoke to one female engineer tackling these challenges head on – Katy Toms, a senior engineer for global engineering firm WSP.

Katy was named as one of WES’ Top 50 Women in Engineering in 2017, is an active STEM ambassador and works closely with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) – particularly in regards to supporting other engineers’ development to becoming chartered engineers with the ICE.

9. How Domino Printing is pushing the boundaries of Operational Excellence?

Domino Printing keeps winning! Adding The Manufacturer MX Award 2018 for Operational Excellence to its plaudits, Domino was recognised for one of the foundations of its strong growth in the UK and world markets.

Steven Barr talked with operations director Carl Haycock and colleagues to learn what it takes to stay at the forefront of manufacturing operational excellence.

[Domino went on to win two awards at The Manufacturer MX Awards 2019 – for People & Skills and Supply Chain Excellence – and was runner-up for The Manufacturer of the Year 2019 – click here to view all the winners]

10. How Design Thinking helped create one of Europe’s fastest growing tech businesses

Tharsus is an innovation powerhouse, a new breed of company based in the North East that combines consulting, engineering and manufacturing to create advanced machines and robots.

Since 2009, the business has grown 10-fold in staff numbers, and since 2015 it’s seen turnover treble to £50m.

Tharsus has certainly come a long way from the metal-bashing business that Brian Palmer purchased in 2004, fabricating outdoor advertising panels and products for the Ministry of Defence.