Manufacturing in 2022 and 2023 - Part Three - With Make UK

Welcome to the Trend Detection podcast, powered by Senseye, an industry leader in using AI to drive scalable and sustainable asset performance and reliability. This is a new publication designed to help you go away with ideas on how to achieve maintenance efficiencies.


Welcome to the Trend Detection podcast, powered by Senseye, an industry leader in using AI to drive scalable and sustainable asset performance and reliability.

For this three part series, I’m joined by Jim Davison and Nina Gryf from Make UK, who champion engineering and manufacturing in the United Kingdom. In the third and final episode of this series, we look at how manufacturers can solve issues around skill shortages and some of technologies that will be driving manufacturing in 2023. 

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Key topics covered (click to jump to the section)

  1. What is Made Smarter?
  2. How is technology helping manufacturers meet their sustainability targets?
  3. Women in the industry
  4. Key Takeaways
  5. Subscribe to our podcast

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: Welcome to the Trend Detection podcast, powered by Senseye, an industry leader in using AI to drive scalable and sustainable asset performance and reliability. For this three part series, I am joined Jim Davison and Nina Gryf from Make UK who champion engineering and manufacturing in the UK. In the third and final episode of this series, we look at how manufacturers can solve issues around skill shortages and some of technologies that will be driving manufacturing in 2023. 

What I was going to say is quite interesting what you were saying about investing in technology and I think that's another the same as potential mistake a lot of companies make is investing in technology before they've identified the business problems they're trying and solve. Doing it that way around instead because it's very easy to, lots of different technology out there, lots of very innovative including Senseye into that. But unless you know what business problems you're trying to solve with technology, you can't put technology before that if you see what I mean. Is that a fair way to summarize that from your experience?

Nina Gryf, Make UK: Exactly, definitely because each company, I'm sure Jim knows because Jim knows all of them. Each company is very different and it has different culture, different set up, different skill set within the company. So it's very different to have this impartial look into what is it actually and it's like Made Smarter provide this for manufacturers in the Northwest and parts of Midlands, et cetera. But we need this consistency of this sort of help, support for manufacturers across the country.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: Actually, just for people who may not know Made Smarter, could you sort of explain a bit more who Made Smarter are and what they do to help manufacturers? It will be quite interesting.

Nina Gryf, Make UK: So Made Smarter was it was an idea project that came up from the Made Smarter Commission in 2017 led by Juergen Maier and then he was still part of ... He was running Siemens then and then commission identified, they published report that identified the kind of gaps on the market with digital adoption and digital and innovation. And they created these different programs, Made Smarter Adoption, Innovation, et cetera.

So the Made Smarter Adoption program aim was to look into the SMEs who were still lagging behind in digital adoption compared to global, big manufacturing firms. And that was the aim of the Made Smarter program. And they looked into the impartial advice so they would just advise all the manufacturers within the area what is it that they need? There was some funding available into digital technologies, some training and leadership courses as well with some of the management, business management universities as I believe. So kind of comprehensive help financing advisory for small to medium manufacturers.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: I can see why their work is so important, especially as manufacturers are facing so many different, very varying challenges at the moment as well. So in terms of success, I wanted to look at what would success look like for manufacturing and I guess it was that positive trend you were talking about, Nina, before. But if there's any other comments on that, on what success would look like, bearing in mind the challenges that we've sort of talked about at length during this podcast.

Jim Davison, Make UK: So for me, Niall, it's actually successful implementation and adoption of the technologies that we've talked about today. That will mean that the labor crisis is mitigated. Getting the skills in organizations to support those technologies, that's going to be critical. I think the continued de-carbonization and off grid power generation by all types of business but in particular manufacturing businesses and engineering businesses that we represent is going to be a big positive outcome. I think being able to sustain the levels of demand that currently are on manufacturers and deliver those products and outcomes positively is going to be critical. And then yeah, being fit and ready for the upturn and the trends that Nina was talking about recently. For me that is going to be something that the sector should be proud of.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: Absolutely, turning that. Yeah, because actually that's a challenge in itself in a positive way, because obviously if things continue to grow and update, that becomes a challenge in itself with things like the skill gaps and the technology gaps. It's how they can be filled as quickly as possible to meet that hopefully increasing demand. So that's quite an interesting what way to look at it as well.

One subject we actually haven't touched upon really is sustainability. And I know there's so many different, I mean, I know we talked about the energy crisis as well, but I guess there's two threads to this question. So how high up the agenda is sustainability and maybe it is maybe away from energy price as we've covered that a little bit. And also how is technology I guess helping to help manufacturers meet those sustainability targets as well?

Nina Gryf, Make UK: So at Make UK we run this campaign, Digital and Green because there's a lot of evidence and we believe that Digital and Green go hand in hand, and even I've mentioned before, Made Smarter program, they now are focusing on digital technologies and meeting the net zero target and decarbonizing. So this is something that it comes together, digital technologies provide solutions to so many different challenges. But definitely decarbonizing manufacturing sector is the one that is there. And in the post COP26, which was host hosted here in the UK, that had a huge effect in terms of raising awareness within manufacturing sector around the net zero target, et cetera. So it has a huge impact on the behavior change and how manufacturers are now planning and putting in place strategies to decarbonize and make the places more efficient.

We published something year ago on Digital and Green and how Industry 4.0 enables the greenification of the industry and it's like 36% and 37% of manufacturers can see the impact of digital technologies on precisely energy waste management and energy efficiency. That's for me.

Jim Davison, Make UK: Yeah, and anecdotally I've seen net zero and sustainability is fundamentally something that is definitely on the agenda. It's regularly talked about where Make UK has put on events to help organizations understand what their obligations are but also what the commercial opportunities are has been critical. Technology actually helps you understand your supply chains and your processes. I was talking to a company yesterday that is utilizing tech to baseline the scope one, two and three emissions throughout their supply chains and they were able to do that in a cost effective way even to [inaudible 00:08:46] suppliers that are producing, are farming basically plants that are then used as fragrances. So it's very interesting to see how technology, as Nina was saying, fundamentally goes hand in hand with actually doing this effectively. One, understanding your carbon footprint and two, where are the opportunities to drive that carbon usage out wherever possible?

And that's where really mapping and understanding your manufacturing processes, the performance of your processes, your utilization of materials and mitigating and reducing those is critical. So again, that will be a massive positive, that journey that manufacturers have started on net zero and not just greenwashing, because the reality is my experience is companies really want to do the right thing. They really want to pass a better legacy onto their grandchildren and their grandchildren's children than just to continue the behaviors that they have today. You can see that seriously they are thinking about this and mitigating and taking steps to change the way that their organizations run. And that's companies of all shapes and sizes. It's not just the big corporates that are driven to do it because of some of the ESG initiatives that they're rolling out. It's companies of all shapes and sizes.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: And that's another interesting point because I think when people think about sustainability in manufacturing, they just think about the plant or plants and that's it. But it's interesting you made the distinction saying about it's the supply chain, it's being responsible for the carbon footprint of your supply chain. So is that correct? So it's not just insular thinking just themselves, but it's actually how the companies interact with and the supply chain interact with as well, how they adapt to that.

Jim Davison, Make UK: Yeah, absolutely. So your scope one and two emissions are the ones that you are directly responsible for. So your manufacturing processes, your buildings, the transport that your workers utilize to commute or carry out their jobs. The stage three, or sorry, the yes, scope three emissions is basically your supply chain's impact on the climate. So that's where it gets very quickly very complex, and that's why a lot of companies kind of get on top of their scope one and twos, but scope three is kind of a very difficult thing to understand and then more importantly to baseline. But technology can genuinely help you with that and do that effectively.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: Yeah. Well, that was actually leading on to the next question about that. So how can technology help to affect that side of things with the supply chain and sustainability? I don't know if there's any insights you can provide on that side, Nina, maybe?

Nina Gryf, Make UK: So definitely maintaining and measuring the downtime of the machinery. I think AI can definitely help with that and this was a huge kind of change and revelation for the companies in the past couple of years in that specifically. But there are sensors that can be put on the machinery. There are sensors that can measure the temperature of different machineries within the factories. I think IoT as well has a huge impact, positive impact on decarbonizing the factory.

Even with 3D printers, we had some case studies in that report from last year. There was a manufacturer who uses 3D printer and the usage of water that was needed within that process, it was like down by 20 liters by a minute or something like that, ridiculous like that. So there's a huge, huge impactful actions that can be made by implementing digital technologies and sensors are quite cheap. So from not so costly technologies to quite big ones like additive manufacturing can be. Yeah, there are definitely lots of examples out there.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: Yeah, no exactly. Again it's not a silver bullet, think we can just say, "Oh, that that'll solve it." And a lot of collaboration I guess across the supply chain as well is necessary to make this a success. I posed just moving on to other forms of technology and you mentioned about data collection for machines and downtime, and I asked you this similar question last year, Jim, about predictive maintenance and where from your finger on the pulse with members and stuff around their thoughts around predictive maintenances, has that changed over the past year bearing in mind some of the conversation we've had today, or is it something come up the agenda, let's say?

Jim Davison, Make UK: Yeah, definitely, Niall. Going back to the survey results, that shows a significant shift in companies now recognizing that by optimizing a manufacturing process, actually there are big wins. And yeah, 45% of those surveyed said that they are introducing new tools that will help them increase equipment, performance, uptime, quality levels, et cetera, et cetera. So yeah, a short answer is definitely we're seeing more companies do that and that goes back to the link with green. So minimizing waste within a manufacturing process but also protecting margin. So just making sure that your plant is more productive and more effective and more efficient.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: Absolutely, good to hear, good to hear. I mean, the time's gone really, really quickly today. I wanted to touch on a couple more things before we conclude, but I know again another question from last year, so revisiting a lot of themes from last year, which is good. And we've talked about talent and the talent gap and stuff and another thing we talked about was attracting women to what is traditionally in the traditional sense is a male dominated industry. So has that sort of shifted over the past year in terms of is there more avenues for, well, more avenues or more [inaudible 00:16:05] to employ women in these roles as well? I'm just interested to see how that's come on over the past year.

Jim Davison, Make UK: I'll let my colleague start, Niall, and then I'll add any thoughts I have.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: Absolutely. 

Nina Gryf, Make UK: I think we can see definitely a good trend and shift of women, especially young women doing engineering degree. We can see that there. Manufacturing sector offers a really good salary. It's like the highest average salary across the economy, so it's a attractive sector, especially from the people from a different background as well. Through apprentices, I think the manufacturing sector still needs to do a little bit more to be more visible, to go out there, to go into the places they haven't looked before in terms of attracting new talent, in terms of advertising, going to different recruiters. Manufacturers, manufacturing companies are doing quite a lot in terms of how to attract new talent, how to retain new talent, which is quite important as well. It's not only about getting women in, but also what do we do to keep them in, right?

So it's about the inclusion. How do we create this culture of inclusivity? Make UK tech hub does ... The team over there does amazing job in terms of apprenticeships and how they created this really diverse group with young women and people from a different ethnic minority backgrounds as well to join their apprentices over in our tech hub in Aston. It's really, really great work they've done. We as manufacturers, as I think as a trade association, we need to be more visible that we are changing as well. I'm not sure if anyone is sad about this, but I don't tend to register or attend events when they are white male only on the panel.

I've refused to do that because I think we should just make sure that we try to put the representation out there as well ourselves. And it's a very important job that we have to do and it's an opportunity and we have great women within manufacturing as well. We can see them all when we group all together at special events like International Women's Day, et cetera. So the trend is up but we definitely need more work in doing that. Yeah, definitely.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: Great. And did you have anything to add to Nina's great points there, Jim?

Jim Davison, Make UK: Yeah, I concur with a lot of the points Nina's made. I think the reality is people respond to people that look like them. So showcasing and promoting young women in the sector, particularly if you are trying to attract the next generation, you need to showcase young women that have started their career, they're doing their apprenticeships, they're doing their degrees because they will be the advocates that encourage their peer group to get involved. So the more opportunities that we have for those is really key. That's why my favorite part of the regional and national awards is celebrating the young people that are starting their apprenticeships and their careers. And I have to say that there is a very, very good gender split between young men and young women, which is great and we need to do more of that. I think women in National Women's Day is again a good example.

I know that with things like our conferences, colleagues like Nina keep us honest and make sure that we have balanced panels so that yeah, we don't have wherever possible sort of pale gray white males that dominate in those environment. But there's still a long way to go. I spoke at a conference last week that was focused on the aerospace industry and 90% of the audience were exactly that. So we've started a journey and we need to keep going. And again, that's why things like National Manufacturing Day is critical and engaging young groups of school children and university students and college students to come into a manufacturing site and make sure it is all of the class that attend, not just the boys or whatever is critical. Because I have to say once you get a young person, male or female engaged in what the sector has to offer, then they're quick to respond and think, "Wow, this is great." But it really is just utilizing those amazing role models and just giving them the platforms to do the great stuff that they can do.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: Yeah, no, absolutely, absolutely.

Nina Gryf, Make UK: And there is economic reasons for that. Obviously, like 50% of the population are women, they are consumers. Companies who are more diverse, are more profitable, there's more innovative. Evidence is there, so it's not just because we think it should be done, it's just good for the business as well.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: Yeah, no, very important points to make, definitely, definitely. So just as we come towards the end, I just wanted if I could ask you both just to summarize any sort of key thoughts from our conversation and maybe, Nina, you could maybe lean it towards the findings in the report as well, just something for our manufacturing listeners to take away with them as sort of a takeaway and something to think about as they sort of plan for the new year. So if I could start with you first of all, Jim, that that'd be great and I know I'm putting you on the spot a little bit here with this, so appreciate that.

Jim Davison, Make UK: No, it's fine. For me, I think it's important we recognize the incredible external factors that have been having a massive impact on the day-to-day operations of manufacturing and engineering businesses. My advice is try and stay positive, invest in appropriate technology that can mitigate some of these issues, be it the shortage of labor, utilize robotics and automation where relevant to your processes. Optimize digital technologies to drive things like your environmental performance and net zero journey forward and integrate your supply chains. Again, utilizing relevant digital technologies because they can and will transform your businesses. And I'm sure Nina will share some of the indices that demonstrate companies that have actually adopted these technologies are far stronger, more agile companies that are fit for the future. So invest if and when you can.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: And Nina, did you want to add your thoughts?

Nina Gryf, Make UK: So I think as a manufacturer, even now, there is a huge challenge in timings and if you don't know what to do, I think just going out there, joining networking events that Make UK is running or just come to us. It doesn't have to be a huge spend on expensive technologies. It can be remanufacturing. There is a great program, Digital on a Shoestring, so you can start small. But if you don't know where to start, look at your peers, look at different companies. Again, Make UK, we create this platform for our members that we can advise on where to start, where to go because it's just confusing out there.

But almost 40% of manufacturers who are using digital technologies, using any of the kind of digital tools see productivity increase. It's the return on investment. It's something that we all have to get on with. If you want to attract new talent, you're going to get people who are using iPads now, they will join your company and they'll be like, "What is this equipment in front of me?" You'll have to kind of train them backwards a little bit. So we need to go forwards for sure. Yeah.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And just finally, how can people find out more about Make UK and some of those events that Nina was alluding to there where people can get involved in all the great work Make UK are doing?

Jim Davison, Make UK: So follow us on LinkedIn. We are very, very active on LinkedIn, showcasing the amazing factories and members that we go and visit, the amazing events that we're publishing. Go and visit Make UK's website and yeah, hopefully we'll meet you at an event or an online webinar in the future.

Nina Gryf, Make UK: Yeah, we have a conference on the 7th of March, I think.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: Fantastic. Good one. Well, we could even ...

Jim Davison, Make UK: How could I forget?

Nina Gryf, Make UK: Looks like I forgot to [inaudible 00:26:19] in my hand.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: That's okay. That's okay.

Jim Davison, Make UK: So the Make UK National Manufacturing Conference will be held in Westminster on the 7th of March 2023. It's going to be an amazing collection of manufacturers. So we'll have a thousand guests in the room from manufacturing businesses, from engineering businesses, and other wider stakeholders and senior politicians. So yeah, definitely that's an event that people should come along and meet us there. Thank you for the prompt, Nina.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: The very subtle prompt. I like it. No, no. What we can do as well as obviously the report we've discussed today, but also we'll put some information about the event as well in our show notes as well. So for people listening, that's where you can go to find out some more information and Make UK's LinkedIn channel as well. But overall, thank you very much, both of you. It's been a real pleasure to dive in some of those challenges and there's definitely from my point of view a lot of optimism for the future as well, which is great to see in these challenging times. So thank you again, Jim, and thank you, Nina, for your insights.

Nina Gryf, Make UK: Thank you.

Niall Sullivan, Senseye: And thank you everyone for listening and see you again next time.



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