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What top OEMs are looking for in their supply chain

by 13. December 2017 16:58


By Rosa Wilkinson, Director of Communications, HVM Catapult

HVM Catapult is a sponsor of the EEF National Manufacturing Conference in London on 20 February 2018. As a supporter of UK manufacturing and innovation, HVM Catapult provided some insights into some of the themes of the conference, which include the Fourth Industrial Revolution, innovation, supply chains, and productivity. 


Debate around the Fourth Industrial Revolution in UK manufacturing is no longer around when it will happen, but around which companies will spot the opportunities created and those which will choose to ignore them. My message to manufacturers is don’t get left behind. Against the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty, our economic outlook is changing. Companies that embrace the potential of 4th industrial revolution technologies, will position themselves better to succeed in a future, potentially very different landscape. Businesses that want to maintain their competitiveness to secure their place in the supply chains of major OEMs need to act now to develop, test and implement the technologies that will improve their long-term productivity, access to data and connectivity.


Already some of the UK’s larger manufacturers are telling us that they see too few companies in their supply chain taking advantage of the technologies available (and expected) today. They want their suppliers of goods and services to be sharing real-time digital information that is a replica of their products and operations - the so-called digital twin. They want to see the power of data used to alert staff when a machine needs maintenance or cut down the administrative time and expense needed to maintain stock levels. They want their supply chain to take advantage of the latest sensor technologies and metrology to improve accuracy and cut down waste. They want the firms that feed them to make full use of the tools which will increase supply chain certainty, drive up efficiency, keep costs competitive and put the OEM ahead of rival businesses in challenging global markets. 


Should we spurn the opportunities created by 4th industrial revolution technologies, we can look forward to dwindling order books, shrinking incomes, falling manufacturing employment and the loss of the UK’s reputation as the best place to invest in Europe. Major companies will move facilities to be close to the suppliers that provide the best service and goods, and today that means the best integrated processes and technology. It doesn’t have to be like that. The UK’s manufacturers are extraordinarily resilient and have a readiness to take on fresh challenges. If they adapt they will win through, beat off the competition and grow. Our future will be bright. 


It doesn’t have to be a painful transition. At the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, we help companies of all sizes think through how they can exploit the new technologies, maintain and improve on existing supply chain contracts and expand their markets. We know translating new technologies into the workplace can be scary – and costly. By providing access to the specialist equipment and expertise needed to investigate new technologies and processes we help strip away the risk of innovation, deferring investment decisions until a firm’s leadership can see that ideas can be scaled up to deliver on a commercial scale. We help manufacturers feel that they’re not alone in their quest for growth. We ease their transition to a new world. 


The value of events like the EEF National Manufacturing Conference is that by coming together, manufacturing leaders can better define the challenges they face and the help they need to tackle them. Britain has never been afraid of change but by sharing insight and experience we are better able to master it. The High Value Manufacturing Catapult is here to help and make sure the UK remains the best place in the world for innovative makers.


To find out more about how HVM Catapult can help companies innovate for productivity and growth, stop by their stand at the EEF National Manufacturing Conference on 20 February 2018. Register your place at the conference and read more about the programme (including speakers such as Jeremy Corbyn, Lush Cosmetics, and Toyota UK) here.

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