Q: What major challenges still keep you
awake at night?
A: There many challenges. One that many
manufacturing companies will relate to is
the tension between efficiency and flexibility. Efficiency in manufacturing and supply
chain operations, and the flexibility to be
able to not just support the business, but to
drive the business. The business should always be the tie-breaker; should always be
the priority. That’s a balance we wake up to
There’s also a real challenge around talent
today, bringing new talent into manufacturing and retaining the talent we have. As we
talk about automation and technology driving the way our industry is evolving, can we
get the people and the skillsets to continue
to take manufacturing to the next level and
keep it competitive? And how do we evolve
new ways of attracting the best and bright-est into our manufacturing supply chain,
the same way that ride sharing or the hotel
industry using things like Airbnb, have
evolved? That’s exactly the same kind of
thinking that we now need in manufacturing
and supply chain or we’ll become obsolete.
The war for talent is going to become one of
the biggest issues our industry will face.
Q: What other challenges and opportuni-
ties do you see for the future of manufac-
turing over the next fe w years?
A: I think carbon and water are going to
become increasingly scarce commodities in
the years ahead. There will be some kind of
taxation around them. So technologies that
allow you to really dial in efficiency from a
carbon and water usage perspective are going to become a really big deal.
I also think operating systems, new tech-
Q: What ne w leadership skills are needed
nologies, and advanced MRP systems that
allow extreme flexibility and responsive-
ness, compared to the inflexibility you see
in a lot of today’s systems, are going to be-
come increasingly important. I definitely
see the potential of big data analytics mak-
ing a big difference to improving the opera-
tion of manufacturing, supply chains, and
other parts of the business.
to succeed in that changing future?
A: Getting manufacturing leaders to focus
more on how to drive the business, rather
than just how to drive a manufacturing facility, is going to be a much more important
As part of that, the need to be more technology centric will be a critically important
skill compared to the traditional profile of
leaders as great chemical, industrial, or civil
engineers. The leadership ability to appreciate data and its value is going to be essential.
I also think the ability for leaders to be
able to collaborate beyond the four walls of
their facility and work together with suppliers, with others in the supply chain, to get
systems talking to each other to drive greater value is going to be vitally important, as
both a skillset and a state of mind.
Q: Finally, if you had to choose a watch-
word or catchphrase for the future of
manufacturing, what would it be?
A: If I had to boil it down to one word, I’d
say it is agility. It’s not just about being agile
on a day-to-day basis and being responsive
to consumers. It’s also the way you design
your factories and your processes and your
systems to be able to adapt, and to adapt
easily. I think agility is going to be a constant journey for manufacturing as new
trends continue to emerge and develop. M
Dialogue / Garry Embleton/ The Art of Mindful Manufacturing /8/8
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“It’s not just
agile on a day-
to-day basis and
sive to consum-
ers. It’s also the
way you design
and your pro-
cesses and your
systems to be
able to adapt,
and to adapt