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Make the leap – one step at a time
by David MacGregor, Business Development Manager, CeeD
(As published in The Scotsman, 31/05/22)
Business leaders are certainly not without their problems and challenges right now. Everyone is doing their best to deal with Brexit, a pandemic, war in Ukraine, supply chain challenges and the biggest issue of all, skills shortages. Now we have high energy costs, rising inflation and climbing interest rates!
These are not single issues to be dealt with one by one but a set of issues that must be addressed concurrently and with different measures, causing their own set of challenges. Who would choose to be a business leader/owner today? Some have used the time to reframe their situation and talent depletion, with early retirement not uncommon. So where then is the impetus to take on additional challenges, to help move the business forward through the development of new methods, processes or technologies?
For some, this is simply a step too far. For others, they may have taken too great a leap at once, making them reluctant to move towards the new horizon of Industry 4.0.
Business decisions to implement changes that might drive improvement for productivity, quality, safety or the bottom line are not, and should not, be taken lightly even in better times, but how can you best take these decisions now, particularly if you are a resource strapped SME!
One avenue is to look at the range of support available to businesses in Scotland through CeeD and other support avenues, such as the Advancing Manufacturing Centre in the West Highlands, located in Fort William.
With a focus on driving innovation in new engineering and manufacturing techniques, processes and technology, the Centre has a wide mix of equipment and capability to support primarily small to medium-sized business explore and innovate, and to pilot new ideas with their products and processes. AIMS is a similar project with a focus on advancing innovative manufacturing in the South of Scotland. There’s also the North Lanarkshire Hub which focuses on improving processes through use of robotics and cobots (collaborative robots).
The technology gap may seem too wide for many to consider, but with the right support from such organisations, set up to advance the manufacturing capabilities across Scotland, companies can try new technologies and discuss potential solutions with engineering and manufacturing experts.
If we don’t change, we not only stand still but indeed move backwards. Innovation and new methodologies/ways of working are rarely made in one large step. They are achieved through a repeatable change cycle of defining, developing, measuring, analysing and implementing, or a journey with many twists, turns and bumps in the road. However, through continuous improvement, businesses can adopt a model of realistic and achievable steps and goals with a roadmap, support and guidance.
But businesses do not need to make this journey on their own. There are a number of network integrators who can help you navigate that road, such as CeeD who are steeped in peer-to-peer sharing and continuous improvement.
We all fully understand the need to help businesses and their leaders take that step of positive change, growing and advancing your business at a time when it feels like you just want to pull the covers over your head.
In addition to those already mentioned, free support is available from a further nine projects through the Advancing Manufacturing Cluster Builder project, managed by CeeD. Find out more here - advancingmanufacturing.co.uk
You can find out more about robotics and the free support available at the Collaborative Robots Demo & Tour in partnership with Smart Hub Lanarkshire on 15th June.