22 Jul 2024

AUTOMATION FOR MANUFACTURING

Inaugural Talking Industry Live draws crowds to the MTC

The keynote address at Talking Industry Live covered the digitalisation journey of Autocraft Solutions Group

The inaugural Talking Industry Live event held last month at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry attracted an enthusiastic crowd who were treated to more than 16 hours of content in the form of keynotes, panel discussions, workshops and seminars delivered by more than 20 experts.

In the opening keynote address, Mike Hague-Morgan, executive director of Autocraft Solutions Group and Dr Megan Ronayne, head of industrial technologies and manufacturing at Innovate UK KTN, recounted how Autocraft has transformed itself from being a traditional manufacturer using hand tools and paper-based systems, to a high-technology company with world-class quality, repeatability and digital traceability.

Since Hague-Morgan led a management buyout of Autocraft in 2010, its revenues have soared from £7m to £70m, and the number of employees has risen from 98 to more than 400.

The two presenters told how Innovate UK KTN and the Catapult Network played a key role in the company’s transformation, providing funding and the vision to help it on its digitalisation journey. Hague-Morgan told the audience that as a result of the transition, Autocraft has been able to deliver at least one major new technology every year since 2013. It has also been able to react to changes in the market faster than its rivals.

This was followed by a discussion on developments in robotics and automation by a panel that included Mike Wilson, the MTC’s chief automation officer, Alan Sheppard, managing director of the LCA Group, David Dearden, managing director of Euchner, and Stuart Colton, marketing manager for Omron. They discussed a variety of topics including reasons why the UK lags behind other industrialised nations in adopting advanced manufacturing technologies.

Dearden pointed out that one problem was the short-term view of many manufacturing organisations. Coulton pointed to a lack of systems integration capacity in the UK. “We need a national strategy to facilitate growth,” he suggested. For Sheppard, there was “a need to embrace change”.

Later in the day there were sessions devoted to OEE and Digital Manufacturing, and AI and Industrial Data.

Running simultaneously with the seminar programme, were are series of practical workshops, including one on Managing Equipment Safety and Cyber Security in the Modern Factory, organised by Euchner, and another on Smarter Panel Building, run by Rittal and ePlan.

There was also an exhibition area where more than 20 companies and organisations were on hand to discuss their products and services with the delegates.

Podcast recordings of the panel discussions will be available on demand from the Talking Industry Web site.

Talking Industry Live will return in Spring 2024 and will build on the foundations laid by the inaugural event.

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