Brexit has focused the attention for manufacturing companies but there are fundamental aspects of the manufacturing sector that need to be addressed – most notably culture, training and education. Roger Fleury, Director, Ardent Solutions and Kevin Boake of B2Wise make the case for innovative thinking as well as technology to inspire the next generation.
The news generally from manufacturing companies has been positive post Brexit – with British manufacturing rising up the global rankings, according to figures from EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation and Santander[i]. Britain is now the ninth largest industrial nation with an annual output worth $247 billion, with manufacturing also accounting for 14 per cent of business investment and 68 per cent of business R&D. In addition, according to the OECD, UK manufacturers have outperformed any country except the United States for job creation since 2010.
However, concerns continue – not least regarding the ongoing skills shortage and the challenge of recruiting into the industry. When the best young brains in the UK consider their careers, manufacturing is still low down the list. Indeed, when looking at global STEM graduates the UK doesn’t even figure in the top six. Just look at our top manufacturing degree courses and the majority of both students and lecturers are from overseas.
Rapid technological innovation is set to change manufacturing fundamentally over the next decade, as the impact of digitisation technologies including Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality becomes clear. According to the PwC recent Industry 4.0 survey, the biggest implementation challenge isn’t the right technology, it’s a lack of digital culture and skills.
Today’s new recruits are a digital first generation; they are actively seeking technology innovative organisations and looking for skills diversity. Those organisations exploring AI and IoT will have obvious employment appeal. But state of the art technology alone cannot transform an essentially inefficient manufacturing model. With growing numbers of organisations admitting to turning off their MRP systems due to their inherent inability to manage today’s complex and volatile supply chains, there is a rising reliance on manual planning processes and spreadsheets. Luring a millennial to the business with IoT and then presenting a tortuous and inaccurate planning model is a fast track to disengagement and staff turnover.
New thinking is required that reflects the reality of today’s global supply chain. Organisations across the US and Europe have already begun to embrace planning methodologies created specifically to support a volatile and customer focused marketplace – such as Demand Driven MRP (DDMRP).
Offering new recruits the chance to be part of this innovative approach, rather than hamstrung by planning models developed over half a century ago, offers clear appeal. From technical training to creating a new culture of manufacturing thinking, DDMRP supports today’s global supply chain challenges and opportunities – and enables organisations to effectively explore the potential of digitisation technologies.
Manufacturing is on the up but in a fast changing and challenging economic climate, the onus is on UK business to take a long hard look at the future, especially the role innovation – both technology and process – should play in enticing new recruits to the sector.
Information: Ardent Solutions, a Microsoft Gold Partner for Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 for Operations has partnered with global supply-chain specialist, B2Wise to create DDMRP for Dynamics. A Demand Driven Institute (DDI) compliant solution, DDMRP brings modern supply chain management thinking to the Dynamics market. Have a look at our Ax Partners.