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Time to supercharge UK manufacturing performance

Originally published in the July/August issue, Steve Martin, Head of the Glass Sector, Siemens UK & Ireland, outlines how the company is realigning its market proposition towards a service-based offer to help manufacturing customers better meet the challenges of global competition, embrace the benefits of a digitised future, make superior strategic investments and improve cash flow and profits.

UK manufacturers are facing a new challenge. How do they transform their businesses internally and externally to deliver new experiences to their customers that will not only satisfy them, but, ultimately, delight them! If companies are able to achieve this outcome, they will deliver a step change in their competitiveness, revenues and profits. The organisations who become more creative in their business models to enhance customer experience will be the future SME, FTSE100 or global player. These companies will form part of a new economy - the creative economy.

Meeting the challenge of industrial and service integration

At the official opening of glasstec 2016, Saint-Gobain’s President of the Flat Glass Sector, Patrick Dupin joined with other senior representatives to address key topics affecting the glass industry. Here, Mr Dupin summarises his presentation for Glass Worldwide readers.

In addition to the major building crisis that is still ongoing, glass producers and processors have been through some major challenges in recent years, involving complex regulations, rising energy costs, a sharp volume decrease in the market, as well as volatility of supply and increased quality demands from the market.

None of these have been completely resolved but I feel new challenges are arising that need to be faced (together once again) that will again impact and structure the glassmaker-glass processor relationship.

Communicating the cost benefits of power

Originally published in the Nov/Dec 2015 issue of Glass Worldwide, Ashley Taylor discusses the long-term challenge faced by cost approvers when investing in power control solutions.

Working for Eurotherm, I often find myself talking with technical experts; this is especially true when it comes to the glass team. In a recent discussion, my own experience as a cost approver, coupled with theirs, allowed us to clearly define the real benefits of the latest Eurotherm power solutions. This led to an interesting conversation on how customers are approached and how glass solutions are presented.

As Finance Director, I have a duty to ensure that working capital is utilised as effectively as possible, balancing short- and long-term profitability with capital investment. Factor into that operational risk and uncertainty and the equation can become quite complex. 

Counterparts in other industries have the same responsibility. The issues to consider become even more critical when investment is needed in a capital asset lasting 15-20 years, such as a typical glass furnace where, because of the timeframes, the number of ‘unknowns’ increases even more. 

ARE YOU READY FOR THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION?

Steve Martin, Head of the Glass Sector, Siemens UK & Ireland, says that glass manufacturers need to ready themselves as the digitalisation of industry gathers pace. Connected, flexible and intelligence-led technology solutions are set to drive marked manufacturing productivity and performance improvements, but the glass sector must embrace all that Industry 4.0 entails and take the first strategic steps on a digital journey that can underpin future success.

The ongoing intrigue, speculation and comment surrounding the impact of Industry 4.0 shows no sign of abating. As the descriptor for available digital technology solutions designed to optimise productivity in manufacturing, the anticipated digital revolution described by Industry 4.0 will be a new dawn for the so-called ‘factories of the future’.

In the words of Juergen Maier, Chief Executive, Siemens UK, such a step change will for example, “utilise vast data volumes to enable manufacturers to ultimately produce batch sizes of one - but at mass market prices - and allow for the customisation of all manner of consumer and industrial products to meet market demand, made possible by flexible, highly connected and intelligence-led manufacturing processes.”

Respected commentators are in no doubt as to the untapped potential of Industry 4.0. Professional services firm, Accenture said: “an industrial-scale version of Industry 4.0 could add $14.2 trillion to the world economy over the next 15 years, and the UK alone could benefit by up to $531 billion.” While the creation of pivotal industry events, such as the forthcoming and highly significant ‘Industry 4.0 Summit’ (Europe’s first dedicated exhibition for the 4th industrial revolution, to be held in Manchester in 2017) signifies another milestone on the digital journey that will see a fundamental change in the way manufacturing businesses operate in the future.

G Clinton Shay’s presentation

Originally published in the November/December issue of Glass Worldwide, this article covers G Clinton Shay’s presentation with the 44th Phoenix Award at a gala dinner in Virginia, USA last October. Mr Shay is co-inventor of the ‘fusion flat glass’ manufacturing process.

A revolutionary method to produce thin, strong glass that is now used widely throughout the world in such industries as consumer electronics and telecommunications, the fusion process stemmed from a research programme initiated at Corning in 1958. Having realised limited success in vehicle windscreens and lenses for sunglasses during the 1960s and 1970s respectively, it was the growing popularity of LCD televisions at the turn of the century that enabled the process to realise its potential, as well as contributing to the continuing success of Corning.

Today, the fusion process is used in the production of Corning’s patented Gorilla glass, which was originally introduced to help protect consumer electronics from the scratches and bumps to which they are subjected in everyday use. Gorilla has been designed into more than 2450 product models and is used in 2.7 billion devices, including smart phones, laptops and tablets etc.

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