Manufacturing is one of the most ground-breaking, tech-savvy sectors today, providing jobs and economic growth vital to both local communities and the UK as a whole. The industry solves problems, provides meaningful careers at a variety of levels and offers productivity, exports and innovation – all crucial in boosting the economy and helping it to thrive long into the future.
“To ensure the UK manufacturing industry can step up and take a global lead, particularly over the next few years as the implications of Brexit become clear, companies must make savvy investments in their business infrastructure now,” says Paul Stevenson (pictured below), Technical Service Manager, Carton, at Bobst UK & Ireland.
“Around a third of companies expect to increase their machinery spend during the next quarter, driven by a number of factors linked to future-proofing their businesses. The need to upgrade or replace outdated equipment to support growth plans is a key driver, meaning investing in the right location, machinery and training is more important than ever. Mounting capacity constraints are also making investment more critical in many sectors
According to a recent report published by UK manufacturers’ body, the EEF, activity in the manufacturing sector picked up slightly during the third quarter of 2018, with a net balance of 27% of manufacturers reporting an increase in output. This is the eighth consecutive quarter in which a positive output balance has been recorded by the EEF and points towards a clear upward trend in the buoyancy of the UK manufacturing sector. Furthermore, investment intentions have doubled over the last three months showing that, despite heightened levels of uncertainty, manufacturers are continuing to increase expenditure to meet increased demand.
Stevenson continues, “To help packaging manufacturers and converters make the investments necessary to be at the forefront of industry growth, BOBST continually innovates its solutions. It develops game-changing technologies that enable efficiency improvements in the production hall allowing companies to focus on delivering added value to their customers.
“Customers are looking to invest in machines to support their future business development; technology that is not only catering to where they are now, but also grows with them as they expand. This does not necessarily mean investing in the newest, most expensive, top of the range machine; instead we must support customers to choose the machine most suited to their needs and appropriate to deliver the performance improvements they require.
“Beyond the machinery itself, training and service support are often overlooked but are absolutely vital to ensure optimum benefits are delivered by a new installation. This is why Bobst places such focus on delivering specialist support to its customers, working together to achieve their long-term vision.”
A recent example
Bobst worked with specialist carton manufacturer Kennedy Smith Press Ltd to create a side-by-side die-cutter installation to increase capacity and drive efficiency, not just now but in to the future.
Michiel Molenaar, Director at Kennedy Smith, said, “Our forward-thinking investment allows the company to continue its ongoing programme of growth whilst pushing the boundaries of what is possible for our customers. The innovative side-by-side installation provides us with a unique solution that allows our production speed, and therefore capacity, to increase within the footprint of the previous single machine.
“The support we have received from the Bobst product specialists and service team, both in terms of choosing where and when to invest, alongside training post-investment, has enabled us to optimise our entire production line to ensure things run smoothly and efficiently throughout our site.”
Bobst has developed a complete range of high-end, quality training provisions for its customers. Designed to ensure equipment and machinery is kept in the best condition and maintain optimum production levels to meet the needs of the manufacturing industry today and in the future, the training delivered by product specialists has been carefully developed to enhance customers’ technological and industrial expertise at the same time.
Chris Isham, (pictured below), Folding-gluing Product Specialist at Bobst UK & Ireland, commented, “The difference is truly being there for the customer 24/7, be that through our remote services or visiting the customer in person. Meanwhile, being able to increase an operator’s knowledge of a machine enables them to have a deeper understanding of their role in the whole production process and therefore enjoy a greater sense of fulfilment in their role.
“The level of engagement we offer, and the relationships we establish, mean we can provide personalised suggestions and support to our customers before, during and after an investment. We also know when to step back and enable the customer to drive self-development, while remaining available should any problems or issues arise.”
Bobst’s site at Redditch, in the West Midlands, is home to the company’s state-of-the-art Competence Centre. Customers can attend training sessions in a focused and controlled environment, without the added pressures of continuous production. Product specialists can deliver off-the-shelf training related to die-cutting and folding-gluing, as well as bespoke training solutions suited to an individual or a specific business need.
Training can involve using live customer jobs as examples, enabling operators to consider alternative solutions and ideas to real production situations.
Stevenson adds, “Our training is designed to develop the most proficient BOBST machine operators who can play a critical role in helping a business be at the forefront of its industry.
“Looking ahead, we expect to support continued investment in businesses’ infrastructure and training as companies take steps to capitalise on growth not just during the next quarter, but over the next five years and beyond.”