SMAS, Automation & Industry 4.0

June 2018

Claire MacLean, Marketing Executive at SP Technology joined Director, Roy Henderson, at the recent Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) conference in Cumbernauld. SP Technology demonstrated some of their robotic and automation equipment at the show, alongside their long-standing partner Beckhoff and their Sales Manager, Alan Smith. The stand certainly attracted a lot of positive attention and Claire shares her thoughts on her second manufacturing conference, and the role SP Technology plays in Industry 4.0.

Returning to the SMAS conference this time with almost a year of SP Technology under my belt was much more exciting. Amongst the sea of faces at the full-to-capacity event were a lot of recognisable faces as well and a lot of new ones. The set up was very impressive and extremely well organised, giving us ample opportunity to network with organisations that could benefit from our bespoke automated solutions and also academic organisations that we could work alongside.

This is key, as according to Paul Lewis, Managing Director of Scottish Development International and Scottish Enterprise International Operations, ”innovation happens when companies talk to their customers, their suppliers and talk and engage with their staff and also universities”, he believes this is why Scotland will succeed in transformational change.

There was a clear and positive acceptance of Industry 4.0 that replaced the fear and uncertainty that fogged the air at the last event in Edinburgh in October last year. What remained the same however was the real buzz that businesses were all still keen to work together to learn from each other and to collaborate on projects. The level of skill and expertise was phenomenal, in addition to the outstanding key speakers.

Taking a quote from Neil Freckingham, Operations Director at Macphie, “we live and breathe innovation, creativity and excellence. We are constantly challenging ourselves to deliver imaginative and innovative business solutions for our customers.” A prime example of collaboration which allowed a food ingredient manufacturer to grow a team of six people with the use of automation and robotics to become a team of over two hundred and fifty people across numerous premises.

This was extremely positive as the conference provided the opportunity to see what our peers are working on and how the new industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, is changing the way we work with customers and influencing the solutions we provide. I still struggle to believe that all these things are manufactured right here in Scotland.

Sarah Jardine from Optos confidently echoed the message to “keep it simple” by taking the elements that are correct for your organisation and disregarding the others. Sarah hit the nail on the head by stating, “We accept new technologies in our personal lives with our mobile devices and complaining about slow Wi-Fi, so we should expect that disruptive technologies are going to be there in our professional lives as well”.

Three key themes surrounded the event – innovation, adoption and leadership – with each key speaker including the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, sharing their remarks on each topic. They also gave praise to SMAS which is now in its thirteenth year, having helped over eight hundred companies complete well over fifteen hundred improvement projects, a real record of success, making us proud to work alongside SMAS to help manufacturers to embrace and implement these changes to remain competitive.

The First Minister’s key message was that the Scottish government is determined to work with businesses to build on enduring strengths with the health of the manufacturing sector crucial to the health of the economy overall. The development of a new Renfrewshire-based National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland will see Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, co-chair with Dr Hamid Mughal, Director of Global Manufacturing at Rolls Royce. These key collaborative links between Scottish Government and the manufacturing industry will ensure that Scotland is a country at the forefront of technological change.

As stated by Nicola Sturgeon, “The ambition is for Scotland to do in the future what we have done so successfully in our history, to be one of the countries that is inventing, designing, developing and manufacturing the technologies that will shape the future”. That is exactly what SP Technology encompasses, a team of collaborative engineers who design, develop and manufacture bespoke automated solutions that allow manufacturers to become leaders at the forefront of their industries.

Now is a great time to be part of the SP Technology team as only last month, we were crowned Manufacturer of the Year at the Made in Scotland Awards.  We are also proud to be involved in the Big Bang Fair taking place later this month to promote the Year of the Engineering.  I look forward to continuing my career in manufacturing and witnessing other companies transition to the new digital age of manufacturing, allowing them to provide further value to their end product and giving them sustainable competitive advantage.

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