Why Are US Discrete Manufacturers Leading The Way? – Digital Manufacturing Week 2021

UK and European discrete manufacturers are behind their American counterparts when it comes digitalisation. Evan Sloss, Director EMEA Operations at iBASEt, gave us his views in to why this is, when he spoke with Tom St John at this year’s Smart Factory Expo at Digital Manufacturing Week.

Watch the interview in full here

Interview highlights

You work with the likes of Airbus, BAE and Rolls-Royce. Can you explain how you simplify the way they build and maintain complex products?

As you say, these products are complex. They go through quite a bit of change in the manufacturing process, and we enable companies to manage that change. Also, not manage, but take control of quality which is paramount. Especially, for instance, with companies that manufacture satellites. When they go up to space you can’t maintain them, so control of quality is important.

Has a lack of digital infrastructure investment led to UK and European discrete manufacturers falling behind their US counterparts?

Yes, unfortunately. The US has led the way in this. What we’ve found through over 20 years of working with several of our customers is their financial performance is better and earnings per share are higher with these companies compared to the UK and Europe.

Further to this can you explain the principle behind Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and how they are being deployed in the US?

In the US, they’re not looking at this as an IT or even a manufacturing project. This is business transformation. This is about better financial performance and improving earnings per share.

Some UK and European defence suppliers are still using Excel spreadsheets and paper-based processes. Can you discuss some of the shortcomings of these methods of operation?

I’ve read many different statistics on Excel spreadsheet errors. If you’re manufacturing a fighter jet, Formula One car, a submarine or nuclear weapons you need to have 100% quality in this. Would you want to trust that manufacturing to something prone to error like XL?

What are the risks for UK and European discrete manufacturers for failing to invest in critical digital infrastructure?

One word – quality. It’s as simple as that

How can Manufacturing Execution Systems help manufacturers to catch up with the US?

This is not about MES really, it’s about outcomes. It’s about transformation of these businesses. We’re very aware of where we fit in this and it’s about being able to understand what’s happening in your factory. It’s about being able to answer a question as simple as, ‘are we having a good day?’ Most people can’t answer that for several days, even weeks.

Do we have enough skilled workers to meet the emergence and demand of new technology?

I’m sure we do. It’s more about manufacturing companies being able to entice those people into what would have traditionally been engineering and manufacturing type roles.

About iBASEt

iBASEt is a software company that simplifies how complex products are built and maintained. Founded in Southern California in 1986, iBASEt solutions ensure digital continuity across manufacturing, quality, and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) operations on a global scale. The iSeries, powered by Solumina, is a cloud-native platform that establishes a digital ecosystem to drive innovation and improve operational performance. With offices in the U.S., UK, France, and India, iBASEt drives the manufacturing operations for customers that include Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Rolls Royce, Pratt & Whitney, and Textron. Learn more at iBASEt.com.

Read back over some of the highlights in a round-up of day 1 at this year’s Smart Factory Expo