As a guest of our partner Infor; Inforlogic recently attended the National Manufacturing Conference #EEF2017 at the QEII Centre in London.
The day took the format of a series of keynotes and some intriguing panel debates.
It was inevitable in current times that Brexit and Donald Trump dictated some of the discussions, at times certainly on the former, interesting and varying views were portrayed.
Our key takeaways were the following, which we feel for our product and services is an encouraging message.
- View that the UK has a real skills shortage that needs addressing. It was felt apprenticeship schemes need reviewing to ensure they are pitched to the younger generation in the right way, it shouldn’t be something which is done if not clever enough to attend university. This was something that host Steph McGovern really challenged the Rt Hon Greg Clark on after his keynote. In one of the panel debates Stephen Cooper from KMPG felt that a long-term strategy was needed to deliver the skills needed for our businesses.
- Technology and ongoing investment was a key focus throughout each session. The following quotes resonated with us
- “People and technology must be invested in”
- “Be more competitive and remain at the cutting edge”
- “Businesses that succeed in the future will be those that enable people and machines to work together”
- “If you stand still on investment, you’ll be caught and you’ll die”
- “Increased productivity will come from people and technology working together”
In the afternoon a panel led by Lisa Pope (SVP Global Strategy and Sales, Infor), senior figures from CNH Industrial and Travis Perkins talked about how they are digitising their Supply Chains using Infor software. Continuing the investment in technology theme, Lisa explained how the cloud gives everyone the opportunity to have world class infrastructure, she then continued with an analogy on how you wouldn’t spend thousands of pounds on an expensive tap and then plug it into old pipework!
- There was a real feeling that we have the opportunity to make the UK a great place for manufacturing post Brexit if handled properly. This was emphasised by Siemens CEO Juergen Maier, who explained that Siemens best plant in the world is based in the North West of England at Congleton in Cheshire (near our Inforlogic head office). In summary both Juergen and Colin Lawther (SVP – Nissan Motors) felt that to achieve these goals manufacturers need to keep innovating and investing.
From an Inforlogic perspective we felt it was important to try and understand what this means for our customers and prospects. We attended the event with our customer Vantage Power. They chose Infor CloudSuite Industrial in December 2015 with a clear growth strategy around investing in cloud technology and their people. Using the latest leading edge ERP software to underpin their business was key to this strategy. Vantage Power epitomise the type of innovative, dynamic UK based manufacturer that was so frequently referred to during the event yesterday.
Brexit has been an uncertain time for all of us and we live in a world that is more uncertain than ever. But as expressed during the event that brings both challenges and opportunities, businesses need to be flexible and agile enough to adapt, to do that they need the right technology in place. During the event we spoke to numerous manufacturers who are using outdated ERP systems that don’t provide them with the flexibility to easily change their business structure and processes. Some of these organisations were uncertain as to whether or not they continue on these outdated systems or invest in new technology.
Taking all the above into consideration, the future of manufacturing is in the next generations of people, skills and technology (be it machine or technology software). Frequently the skills gap was referred to and how we bridge this, it was felt doing nothing now was clearly not the way forward for long term success, “stand still and you’ll die”.
Our children today are growing up in a world where they have the latest technology at their fingertips and all around them. This will become an expectation as they move into their working lives. For any future manufacturer to attract this talent they need to have the latest technology and machines in place. For any courses or apprenticeship schemes to be exciting and attract young talent, they need to be geared around this technology.
Companies like Travis Perkins, Vantage Power and CNH are businesses of different types, age and size, but all have invested in Infor software as part of an overall strategy to digitise their supply chain. Benefits and reasons discussed during the conference were:
- Desire to improve the experience for their staff and customers now and for the future.
- Attract the top talent in the industry based on this investment
- Invested in cloud technology, removing internal infrastructure cost and ensuring consistently being on the latest version of software and technology.
The last point became a key discussion topic, how can this latest technology help UK manufacturers now and in the future. One of the companies talked about how they use Infor software as part of their recruitment process. Potential new recruits are shown the software and asked to navigate around, this works two-fold, allowing them to judge potential capability of the candidate but also demonstrating the fact they will be using leading edge innovative ERP software.
We left the conference in a buoyant mood, the manufacturing sector in the UK has a great opportunity and can really thrive if the right agreements are put in place and investment made. We are proud of our strong relationship with Infor and strongly believe with our joint offering of technology and services we will continue to deliver real business benefit to our customers. We look forward in conjunction with Infor in playing our part in the future of UK manufacturing.
Chris Stock – MD
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