UK manufacturing can grow impact on global economy, says former IfM chief
UK manufacturing has come far and retains the capability to impact the global economy, an industry leaders’ summit was told.
Professor Sir Mike Gregory, former head of the IfM in Cambridge, emphasised how far UK manufacturing had travelled – capturing value by evolving from a process-driven to systems-focused perspective – and reflected on expansions into digital and automation.
He praised the assets the UK has in manufacturing, including a world-class research base, which is now better connected to industrial practice than ever before. He also shared his optimism on the opportunities for the UK to grow its manufacturing role and contribution to the global economy, if we harness our thought-leadership and innovation.
The Institute for Manufacturing was a key event partner for the Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit in Liverpool, bringing thought-leadership and research insights to the biggest manufacturing conference and exhibition in the UK.
Professor Tim Minshall, head of the IfM, chaired the first day and set out the vision of the IfM to manufacture a better world. He explained that by bringing together leaders from industry, academia and government, the IfM aims to foster cohesion across manufacturing sectors to create value and enable innovation.
Minshall also chaired a panel discussion on the UK’s role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with panellists including Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK and industry champion for the flagship Made Smarter programme – alongside Neil Anderson of Caterpillar Skinningrove, and Naveed Khawaja from AstraZeneca.
Maier outlined the importance of leaders giving their employees space and permission to experiment, to do different and innovative things, suggesting that a proportion of time should be set aside for people to explore ‘off-line’ activities – a practice which is followed at Siemens and widely elsewhere.
Khawaja made a plea that leaders should foster creativity and provide variability in roles, to avoid demotivation. All the panellists voiced views on the importance of lifelong learning and in-work training.
There was a buzz around the IfM’s exhibition stand within the Smart Factory Expo, which welcomed 6,000 visitors over the two days.
The IfM hosted a series of free workshops, as one-hour taster sessions to give delegates an experience of IfM’s business strategy tools and to stimulate thought-provoking discussion of issues. These included roadmapping, automation assessment, ecosystem mapping and ‘prioritising opportunities for innovation’ workshops.
In the Innovation conference stream, Minshall considered why innovation matters for manufacturing firms now. He drew on research into open innovation to emphasise the value of working collaboratively beyond organisational boundaries and addressed the importance of company culture in developing skills and structures that allow people and ideas to flourish.