It’s been a fantastic – and busy – couple of months for our team here in Ireland as we conclude three industrial sector conferences focused on medical products, pharmaceuticals and F&B.
There is simply no substitute to speaking directly with those in industry and learning about the challenges that they face as we seek to expand the human possibility they possess to drive their businesses, products and approaches forwards through the age of industry 4.0.
Ireland is blessed with an excellent installed base in each of the three areas we held conferences for, and it has exciting potential too. That potential will be unlocked in part by a digital transformation culture, and in part by the technological capabilities becoming available. Similarly, it is driven by both the applications themselves – answering the specific issues they face, and by the technology available, which opens new solutions and new routes to achieving more.
It is these drivers that I saw evidenced from our conversations at each of the conferences. When Rockwell Automation develops technology, it is done at a global scale and with an eye on the specific requirements at the application level – so in most cases, reassuringly, we found that where customers had specific challenges regarding implementation, Rockwell Automation could apply a number of different approaches to offer a resolution.
I’ve noted before, here in my regular blog, that it is our deep relationships with customers that makes us best positioned to truly help them unlock industry 4.0 ROI. Our teams can act in close co-operation to help navigate this journey and help find the right solutions for each customer depending on their exact aims, specifications and installed base. It is a partnership.
In turn, as we speak to customers and understand more about their challenges, this can help inform the direction of technological development. So perhaps it’s not chicken or egg, but rather, chicken and egg.
Another observation from the three events concerns the types of issues that are faced by different sectors.
Being a global company, we were able to call upon international sector expertise for our conferences – a wealth of knowledge and experience that brought a global perspective to proceedings. While medical products and pharmaceutical manufacturers work in the same field, it’s not hard to see that the challenges they each face often have more in common with other sectors.
And while F&B has commonality with both, it doesn’t face the same issues with scaling new approaches, since the validation process is considerably less onerous.
Meanwhile, in turn, validation and legislation in pharmaceutical and medical products has driven the uptake of highly digital solutions in the sector, including authenticity regulations around track and trace of product, and supply chain integration. Approaches and solutions that are now being seen adopted in leading F&B manufacture too.
The point here, is that by meeting people in each of these sectors over the course of a few weeks, we’ve gained an added benefit in perspective, and the team here in Ireland is thinking laterally about how we can help meet the specific challenges of each sector from our broad portfolio of technologies and deep, global knowledge.
There’s simply no substitute for listening, understanding and working closely together. If ever there was a time when industry procured the best technology and then figured out how to apply it, it has been replaced with an era where it’s vital to understand what the benefits you are looking to achieve are, and building the technology that will meet those needs and help continue your own journey into industry 4.0. One size no longer fits all.
Industry must ask itself what the challenges they are trying to overcome are. Is it downtime, because every minute lost affects the bottom line? Is it scalability, because validation of new processes causes delayed ROI? Is it volume, because new markets are opening overseas? Is it product consistency, because waste is extremely costly?
Such questions will drive the technology strategy – just as they drive the technology development – differently for each sector.
As a final thought, in the spirit of working together to meet the challenge of industry 4.0, it was fantastic to welcome the IDA to our medical devices conference ahead of the planned launch of a new smart manufacturing research facility in Limerick.
Sector specific research facilities such as this show the commitment and potential of the sector here and fill me with confidence that the potential for Ireland to continue to be a world leader in Life Sciences is practically supported.
If you’d like to find out more about how we support each of the sectors mentioned above, click through to the posted links, or get in touch with your local office.