Up to 1,000 delegates visited Ireland's largest manufacturing supply chain conference and trade exhibition, Manufacturing Solutions Ireland 2018, at Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT).
In it's second year, the conference and engineering trade show, hosted by the UK tool technologies trade association, the GTMA, in conjunction with LIT, exceeded last year’s attendance, thereby helping to generate in excess of a quarter of a million euro for the local economy. The Manufacturing Solutions event was supported by the Syndicat du Décolletage Congress, also held in Limerick.
Manufacturing Solutions Ireland 2018 opened up new possibilities within the supply chain to customers and suppliers from both Ireland and the UK, therefore helping to advance the capabilities of Industry 4.0 and build stronger trading relationships.
GTMA Chief Executive Officer, Julia Moore, described the conference and trade exhibition as “a unique collaboration with 50% UK and 50% Irish exhibitors.”
Ms Moore said, “We hope that Manufacturing Solutions Ireland 2018 will develop and build on stronger trading relationships, bringing with it new ideas, new technologies, materials and processes. It certainly highlights the innovation of skills of our SME engineering community, who need to be responsive, fast, flexible, and have the ability to innovate, as well as to be competitive in a global market.”
LIT President, Professor Vincent Cunnane said LIT was delighted to partner with GTMA in bringing the event about. “The Mid-West has a history of being to the forefront of innovation in manufacturing and trade. This event reflects that tradition of vibrancy and inter-connectedness.
“Manufacturing Solutions is very much about sharing ideas, skills and information, and fostering strong relationships. It creates real value and has already become a staple event in the industrial calendar of both the UK and Ireland.
“LIT is built on collaboration and on connectedness with industry, and so this event is taking place at the nexus of higher education and industry. The ability to adapt to change is vital, and here at LIT we pride ourselves on being an agile and flexible partner for industry and manufacturing.”
In the course of the Manufacturing Solutions Ireland 2018 conference guest speakers Denzil J. Lawrence, Boeing Supplier Development; John Drysdale, Business Development Manager, Shannon Group, and Dr. Richard Keegan, Manager, Competitiveness Department, Enterprise Ireland addressed the Mid West’s thriving aerospace and aviation industry and the impact of emerging technologies on the manufacturing supply chain.
Meanwhile David Murray, Senior Research Engineer, Cook Medical presented a talk on Industry 4.0, INCASE, and innovation partnership projects.
During his lunchtime address Boeing Commercial Airplanes Mr Lawrence told delegates, “Innovation is about what we can all do differently and what we can learn, from our supply chain: what skills, capabilities, and emerging technologies is the supply chain developing and perfecting, and how can those innovations be an enabler, not only to Boeing, but to our tier 1, 2 and 3 companies.
“It could be a new cutting tool technology or process, an advance in Industry 4.0 or system that gives us better traceability, or enables us to build aircraft faster.”
“Companies should look for collaborative opportunities. You may have a customer who is involved in a collaborative funded programme that you can also contribute to. We need to create consortiums that include a whole range of organisations throughout the supply chain, build relationships with Government, universities, and trade associations. A lot of advanced innovation can originate from SMEs participating in collaborative research programmes,” he said.
Meanwhile Mr Drysdale told conference goers that Shannon IASC recognised the strategic value of a strong regional skill set in engineering, brought about in particular by the growth of life science engineering.
“The life science industry has a culture that has much in common with aerospace manufacturing, when coupled with the regulatory driven aviation sector it makes a compelling case for the aerospace supply chain to support aircraft manufacturers worldwide from the Midwest. The Manufacturing Solutions 2018 showcases this industry right in the very heart of the Mid West allowing young people to explore opportunities within this exciting sector providing our industry with the talent pipeline vital to sustain its growth and prosperity.”
"Supported by various Government initiatives such as Springboard+ and the Aviation SkillsNet, the regions learning institutes have actively engaged with industry to create educational and training programmes fit for purpose and Shannon IASC actively engage whenever possible to support these programmes,” he said.
Dr. Keegan from Enterprise Ireland spoke of how Irish companies are adopting to Lean manufacturing as a systematic method for waste minimisation, without sacrificing productivity.
“Ireland and companies is Ireland are adopting Lean as a fundamental way to drive their competitiveness. Irish Lean is engaging our people to improve their process and personal capability and capacity. We are seeing serious progress being made across all sectors from food, engineering, life sciences, pharma, software and services in both indigenous and multi nationals. We are starting to see Lean being adopted on farms and in our hospitals. The Irish story with Lean is still young but we are developing real capability in Lean as we collectively drive towards Operational Excellence,” he said.
The Manufacturing Solutions Ireland 2018 conference and roadshow was supported by Shannon IASC, Cook Medical, Enterprise Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, Limerick Chamber, Shannon Chamber and Regional Skills.