Promise Fulfilled at The National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition 2016
Just over 2,000 people from all over Ireland visited the National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition at the Citywest Hotel, Dublin on Tuesday, January 26th, 2016, and participated in arguably the largest ever gathering of the manufacturing community in Ireland.
Visitors who braved the inclement weather were rewarded with a conference and exhibition that covered all aspects of the manufacturing and supply chain in Ireland, and which, with its comprehensive programme of free workshops and key note speakers combined with 150 exhibitors displaying the latest technological solutions available, provided something of interest and value for everyone in attendance.
Now in its third year, The National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition has become an All-Ireland ‘must-attend’ annual event, which successfully connects key stakeholders across the full spectrum of Irish manufacturing, including the food, pharmaceutical, medical, chemical, life sciences and electronics manufacturing sectors. It has been carefully designed by the organisers – Premier Publishing & Events – to provide a forum for manufacturers and operators involved throughout the supply chain from across Ireland – North and South – to gather to discuss pressing issues facing Irish industry.
Larger and More Extensive
The move of this annual event to the Citywest Hotel, Ireland’s premier conference venue, meant that this year’s event was larger and more extensive in its scale and reach, both geographical and content-wise, than in the past. Indeed, the Citywest Hotel complex with its easy access and free car parking is strategically placed to host All-Ireland events of this kind.
The theme of the 2016 event was ‘Creating an Innovative Manufacturing & Supply Chain Eco-System’ and an impressive line-up of speakers from manufacturing, academia and government agencies were assembled to explore the key problems, challenges and opportunities facing Irish industry.
Dr Richard Keegan, Manager Competitiveness Department at Enterprise Ireland, was the first keynote speaker on the Main Stage of the 2016 National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition. His address focused on working together and applying Lean thinking along the value chain, in the context of the National approach to Lean to improve the competitiveness of Ireland.
“Lean works and we have only scratched the surface,” said Dr Keegan, who is an expert in the areas of Lean/World Class Business and Benchmarking. “We as a nation know what needs to be done.” He added: “The State wants to help those who want to be helped.” State assistance for businesses includes financial support, a benchmarking service and best practice visits.
The Lean theme was also explored by Martin Conroy, Director of Continuous Improvement at Medtronic, in his presentation on ‘increasing the flow of Value across the Supply Chain’. Lean is sometimes considered as a cost cutting exercise within manufacturing plants, however the whole purpose of Lean is to increase the flow of value across the entire Value Stream, he pointed out.
Focus on Value
“Value is defined by a customer and that definition changes all the time,” Martin Conroy explained. “You need to be able to change every day. The science of being able to respond quickly is the science of Continuous Improvement.” However, he cautioned: “We have to remember, it is a long-term journey and it doesn’t happen over-night.”
According to Martin Conroy, Lean is about value and it is important to manage where value is happening. “No good decision was every made in a swivel chair,” he remarked. “When you sit in your office, you get a distorted view of reality.” Technical changes to a business can be relatively simple to implement but changing the management culture and people’s mindsets and behaviour requires a long-term approach.
In a similar vein, Kevin Gleeson, Director of Global Procurement at ICON Clinical Research, explained how an innovative approach to procurement can bring additional business benefits. Procurement is traditionally seen as a transactional based service function with typical targets of cost reduction and operational efficiency. However, because the procurement function touches all aspects of a company’s operations, it has a central role to play in increasing top line revenue and reducing bottom line costs, he suggested. Procurement innovation can consequently lead to transformational changes in a business and play a more strategic role in the organisation.
The Internet of Things
Brian Quinn, Director of European Innovation at Intel Labs Europe, Intel’s research function, assessed the future impact of a new wave of computing – the Internet of Things (IoT). He identified two key trends within the compute industry – making devices smaller and more energy efficient, and the evolution of networks and increasing connectivity.
“All devices that are not currently connected will become connected,” he remarked. “There will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020.” IoT is not just about end devices but also concerns connectivity and data services, and the value that these combined capabilities can realise for business and people. “You should really be thinking about how compute can help your business,” Brian Quinn told his audience.
The details of Enterprise 2025 – Ireland’s national enterprise policy 2015-2025 – were outlined by Maria Ginnity, Principal Officer Enterprise Policy, Strategic Policy Division at the Department for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
With over 136,000 new jobs created since 2012, the goal is to have 2.18 million working by 2020 and with the national unemployment rate reduced to 6%, with each region within 1% of the State average. The Government’s vision for 2015 is to see Ireland as the best place to succeed in business delivering sustainable employment and higher standards of living for all.
However, structural issues persist such as rising cost pressures, investment in R&D still remains low compared to competitors and the proportion of Irish enterprises engaging in R&D is also low.
Maria Ginnity explained the Government’s job creation approach over the coming decade. The strategy is designed to be sustainable – led by strong export growth and a step change in the performance of enterprises that is underpinned by innovation, productivity and competitiveness. The step change in enterprise performance seeks to achieve 25% more start-ups coupled with better survival rates.
“We need to continue to focus on growing where we have strengths,” she said. With regard to manufacturing, Enterprise 2025 aims to create an additional 43,000 jobs. “We are seeing a net growth in jobs in manufacturing and a growth in exports,” she added.
The keynote speakers who appeared on the Main Stage of the event were like the ‘headline acts’ at a ‘music festival’. They were ably supported by a host of other ‘performers’ who made presentations at the eight workshop locations spread around the extensive Conference & Exhibition area. These workshops offered a comprehensive choice for visitors and covered the following topics – Research & Innovation; Logistics, Supply Chain & Traceability; Quality, Health and Safety; HR, Skills & Training; Finance & Government Supports & Industry/State/University Collaboration; Sustainability; Lean; and Future Factory.
Indeed, all speakers at the Conference and supporting Workshops were carefully selected from senior management within Irish industry, State agencies and academia, who have a successful track record of delivering quantifiable results in sustainable manufacturing and throughout the supply chain.
A new feature at the 2016 event was the Jobs Expo area, dedicated to highlighting the many employment opportunities currently available throughout the Irish manufacturing and supply chain sectors. This purpose-designed jobs, employment and recruitment section of the National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition served as an interface between suitably qualified job seekers and representatives from both national and international companies with vacancies.
The layout of the National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition 2016 at CityWest was intended to maximise the opportunity for delegates to network and make new contacts, while also connecting potential buyers with leading suppliers.
“My organising team promised that this year’s event would be bigger and better than ever and we delivered on that pledge,” said Colin Murphy, Managing Director of Premier Publishing & Events, the organiser of the National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition. “The 2,000 plus visitors were given an ideal forum for meeting Government agencies and supporting associations, and gaining free advice from experts. The 2016 event proved to be the largest ever gathering of the manufacturing community in Ireland.”