Delaware: digitisation in manufacturing
With technology's influence in the supply chain space growing rapidly, Supply Chain Digital speaks with Richard Seel, Managing Director, Supply Chain & Logistics (UK & US) at delaware North America, to discuss how to meet technology's arrival in the sector head-on.
What is the biggest challenge in your industry at the moment?
A: Manufacturers face a raft of challenges as they look forward to 2020. They will have to navigate an increasingly uncertain local and global political environment, which, for some at least will mean low investments and an uncertain future. At the same time, they will need to be focused on transforming current business models and creating new ones to take advantage of the latest digital technologies from AI to VR and autonomous robots.
To drive competitive advantage, it’s important that manufacturers put systems and infrastructure in place to enable a digital step change. To support this change, manufacturers will also need to access trained resources with skills to support existing and new digital technologies.
The current political uncertainty has the potential to go one of two ways. We could see an exodus of manufacturing operations into Europe, the larger consumer market which also has common legislation. The result in this scenario would be loss of skills, jobs and global influence.
The alternative scenario sees the creation of a global operational centre of excellence in the UK which has a highly skilled digital workforce, allowing for massively-improved productivity gains driven by the use of these technologies and automation. There can be a bright future with strong leadership and a clear executable five-year plan. For this to happen, however, will require the government to rapidly create the right foundation and provide significant investment in these technologies through tax incentives, and supporting digital education.
How are manufacturers utilising innovative technology?
A: Manufacturers will have the opportunity to improve productivity through the adoption of digital connected technologies. This will help ensure less reliance on low cost resources and manually intensive production lines. At the same time, manufacturers will also have the chance to enhance production and ergonomic processes through modeling of production lines, warehouse operations and people interactions in a digital twin.
Indeed, the use of a digital twin gives manufacturers the opportunity to accelerate time to market for new and updated products. Added to that, having the ability to model, change and repeatedly test in a digital model cuts costs, improving quality and time to market.
Companies in the UK and the US will have no choice but to adopt the technologies that are synonymous with Industry 4.0. The uncertainty of the current political climate through Brexit and the US/Chinese trade wars is generating the environment where low cost resources, which have helped sustain low inflation and low productivity, are returning home. In the future the UK is likely to have reduced access to a wider labour pool, so will need to find alternatives which require the adoption of advanced digital technologies to bridge this resource gap.
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Grupo Espinosa: 70 years of constant evolution
Founded in 1952, Grupo Espinosa has been relentlessly supporting the publishing industry with producing more than 100 million copies every year – whether its books, magazines, catalogues or single-order custom prints. No project is big or small for Grupo Espinosa, as the facility can scale up on demand and their turnaround times are highly competitive. Grupo Espinosa works with on-demand digital press or offset press, in paperback with glued softcover binding, PUR softcover binding, stitched paperback binding, binder’s board, hardcover, saddle stitched, Spiral or Wire-O. Equipped with the experience needed for a product to leave the plant ready for distribution, Grupo Espinosa delivers anywhere inside or outside Mexico. Traditionally starting off as a black and white printing press, Grupo Espinosa has experienced transformation first hand – from colour to digital offset printing. Currently, Grupo Espinosa is also looking at making capital investments into audio books to match with the increasing demand.
So how did a seemingly local operation in Latin America become a world-renowned printing facility trusted by hundreds of clients? As Rogelio Tirado, CFO of Grupo Espinosa for the last six years says “It all comes down to our market experience and our dedication to quality”. With nearly 70 years behind them, and located in Mexico City, Grupo Espinosa has two major locations – one spanning 75,000 square metres and the other about 45,000 square metres. Both locations are controlled by a single ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system ensuring speed, consistency and quality of work. Tirado says this isn’t their only competitive advantage. He adds “Our competitive advantage is the relationship we have with customers and the trust they put in us with their intellectual property”. Speaking of trust, global publishing giant Macmillan Education exclusively partners with Grupo Espinosa for their Latin America operations, as part of Macmillan’s decentralized hub strategy. Having a facility that offered the full spectrum of service – from storing digital content to printing and distributing – was one of the major requirements for Macmillan, and Grupo Espinosa was recognized as the leading printing hub for providing this 360 infrastructure. Another factor that has led to success for Grupo Espinosa is the absolute focus on quality and time. The staff are committed to providing the best quality in the best possible time, without causing wastage of resources. Sustainability is a huge factor playing into Grupo Espinosa’s operations, and they’ve created a healthy environment with the sustainable use of paper and energy resources as well as keeping their employees – most of them associated with the organisation for over 10 years – happy. He adds, “In order to be truly successful, you need to be good to the environment, employees, suppliers, and your customers. But most importantly, you need to be sustainable, you need to have proper working conditions, pay proper salaries, proper prices for paper, source the paper from sustainable sources, pay your taxes, basically be a good global corporate citizen and that's probably one of the biggest achievements that we have.”