Manufacturing – particularly the more complex types – has always depended on intelligent collaboration between the many interlinked subsidiary industries and supply chains, which cross international and disciplinary boundaries, that contribute to the final product.
Robotics has long been a good example – for hundreds of years, in fact. Novelty automata were all the rage in 17th century Japan, where sophisticated “karakuri” puppets would perform for, or even serve tea to, delighted guests. But the technology might not have emerged if European traders hadn’t brought the concept of clockwork to Japan in the first place. A cross-pollination of ideas, it seems, automatically leads to new ideas, developments and industries.
Karakuri also happens to be the name of a successful UK start-up operating in the food sector, one of the industries with the highest gross added value to the UK economy. Karakuri is harnessing the latest market trend of mass customisation by offering state-of-the-art robotic technology with machine learning, optics and sensors, primarily for different types of boxed food makers that are designed to meet the specific dietary, allergy and nutritional requirements of their customers. Their configurable, modular – and therefore easy-to-install – design can create a wide range of food-to-go options from a range of 48 different food components.
Karakuri was one of the fruits of Founders Factory, a London-based global incubator which matches start-ups with investors and assists them with product validation and distribution, among other things. In October last year, chef and “culinary alchemist” Heston Blumenthal joined other experts in retail, food and robotics on Karakuri’s board as an advisor. But unlike other rising stars of the UK start-up scene such as Deepmind, Swiftkey, Evi and VocalIQ, which had the privilege of being acquired by tech giants (Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple, respectively), it was British retail giant (and more recently picking and handling start-up) Ocado, a challenger of Amazon in online fresh produce retail, that acquired a minority stake in Karakuri last May.
Karakuri has undeniable potential. But great ideas aren’t exactly in short supply in the UK. And once the initial excitement subsides, the drag factors of a loss in productivity, skills shortages and the low uptake of cutting-edge digital technologies remains, problems that must be dealt with if these dazzling proofs of concept have any hope of becoming a reality.
The slings and arrows of the past two decades
As Donna Edwards, Programme Director of the Made Smarter North-West Pilot 2019-21 – designed to facilitate industrial digitalisation – has explained, the CEOs of SMEs won’t be galvanised by some abstract, messianic pitch of Industry 4.0 and the opportunities it presents. Manufacturing SMEs think in terms of cost, ROI and competitiveness. That’s the kind of language they find engaging. “The first thing we learned when the first campaign went out [with the slogan of] ‘This is your industrial revolution’ was that it absolutely doesn’t resonate with them at all,” said Edwards. “It’s more about productivity and improving your bottom line: how do you get more throughput from the products that you’ve got with the kit that you’ve got?”
And can you blame them? They have been dealt three major blows in the last 20 years or so. The first was delivered by outsourcing and offshoring. As a result, the number of smaller British engineering and manufacturing firms roughly halved between 1997 and 2010. Then came the financial crisis. Up until then, UK manufacturing managed to keep pace with world leaders – the productivity puzzle we are currently struggling with originates in the post-2008 days. The final blow threw the position of manufacturing SMEs into disarray on 27 November 2015, when the Manufacturing Advisory Service, which provided SME manufacturers with technical and strategic advice, was closed without warning.
The paradigm shift working in the favour of British manufacturers and their employees
Nonetheless, British manufacturing has been soldiering on. Despite the adversities and being side-lined by an overwhelmingly predominant service sector, it has managed to remain in the top ten national industrial output rankings, providing 45 per cent of UK exports and 85 per cent of R&D investment.
2019 has even been witnessing a reversal of fortunes. There seems to be a general consensus now that digital technologies have the potential to restore UK manufacturing and serve as an antidote to the potentially negative effects of Brexit. Stakeholders are also increasingly aware that a paradigm shift is taking place when – thanks to a combination of factors in world trade – the age of global labour arbitrage and offshore outsourcing is gradually coming to an end. The emerging new marketplace will be commodity-driven, where meeting customer expectations in terms of cost, availability and flexibility will be (and to a large extent already is) businesses’ major concern.
Whether you talk to Juergens Maier, the former CEO of Siemens UK and Chair of the Made Smarter Commission (the UK’s answer to Germany’s Industry 4.0), Stephen Phipson, the Chief Executive of Make UK (previously EEF), or read the latest update to the government’s industry strategy, they will argue in unison that the key to a more efficient diffusion of digital technologies is scrapping the high- cost-to-capital, low-cost-to-labour model that has served the country well until now, but is no longer fit-for-purpose. Instead of cheap, low-skilled labour, there is a need for a digitally skilled workforce that employers are eager to invest in and to work in partnership with, and who can experience how their roles are enhanced by digital technology – as was laid out in the principles published by Made Smarter UK in October 2019 with the endorsement of Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom.
Players in the manufacturing arena are also working hard to debunk the misconceptions rife among SME CEOs, who are wary of implementing robotics and think they are not suited to low-volume or bespoke production processes. They would also agree with Barney Wragg, Karakuri’s CEO, who maintains that robotic start-ups can’t win without also incorporating AI – a rule that applies to adopters of digital technology as well. Although there seems to be little disagreement in the industry that smart factories need to be developed incrementally through mini-digitalisation projects, there is no point in stopping half-way: the full benefits can only be reaped if the data generated by intelligent automation amended with other smart technologies is leveraged by data analysis.
Any post-Brexit sunlit uplands will only materialise if the long tail of UK manufacturers – as well as non-manufacturing SMEs – that currently don’t invest in new technology is reduced, so that the sporadic success stories of top-ranking tech companies such as Ocado and Karakuri are underpinned by a productive digitalised industry that is supported and taken seriously.
by Zita Goldman, Business Reporter
Richard Kennedy, UK Managing Director and Jo McBrearty, Product Analyst, Re-Leased UK
After experiencing the pain of managing property and tenants using old desktop software, spreadsheets and emails, Tom Wallace decided to reinvent the approach to commercial property management – and Re-Leased was born.
With a combination of extensive industry experience and world-class software engineering, Re-Leased is designed by commercial property experts for commercial property professionals. Re-Leased’s unique perspective means usability, productivity and reliability are at the core of Re-Leased’s platform. Complex tasks are simplified, and information centralised for full control from one screen.
The platform is focused on servicing commercial landlords and property managers, helping them generate economies of scale by automating business processes.
Customers report time savings of between 70 and 90 per cent as a result of implementing Re-Leased, and love Re-Leased’s modern and innovative approach to property management. “We save over 35 hours per week in admin, and have increased turnover significantly since using Re-Leased,” said Matt Fitzgerald from Commercial Property Partners in Sheffield, who has been using Re-Leased for three years.
With property managers operationally desk and paper-bound by manual property management tools, critical tasks or transactions can often be missed. Landlords and property managers can be put in positions of contractual risk, and keeping on top of multiple rent reviews, break clauses or financial transactions can be impossible. Re-Leased is designed to be the catalyst of innovation from within the industry, that will pioneer the modern era of property management.
NG Chartered Surveyors in Nottingham adopted Re-Leased in 2018, “The property management software we were formerly using was widely adopted across the surveying industry, but we felt that it wasn’t good enough for the level of service we wanted to offer,” they said. “Hence, we researched the market and have invested in Re-Leased, which we believe is the ‘blue riband’ of property management software.”
Re-Leased is making its mark in the sector through rapid customer growth. The company’s accolades include: Xero Award Finalists (four years consecutively), PropertyWeek’s Best Place to Work in Property, London Mayor’s International Business Programme, Software Advice (2019) Front Runners, and it has recently received investment from Evans Randall Real Estate Fund. “Kent Gardner and I are excited and proud to invest in Re-Leased,” said Paul Kendrick at Evans Randall. “The property industry is paying lip service to new technology, and is wide open for disruption. We are convinced that Re-Leased will have a front row seat in that disruption.”
Re-Leased has maintained its position at the cutting edge of property management innovation by bringing the property industry into a truly mobile age. With mobile technology, deskbound property managers can spend time with their customers, and provide value-added services while remaining connected to all key stakeholders. The Re-Leased platform and the freedom that the mobile apps enable is revolutionising the working practices of property managers.
Find out how you can start transforming your property business here.
Turbine Efficiency Group combines capabilities & delivers a world-class service on IGT’s (SGT-100, SGT-200, SGT-300, TA, Saturn, Centaur), servicing new and existing customers from overhaul facilities in the UK and US, with regional offices in Aberdeen and Dubai. Whatever your needs, from refurbished or new installations, maintenance and overhaul capabilities, individual parts, or supply and repairs, we will work with you to provide precise, value-added solutions to fit your individual operations.
As the leading independent provider of gas turbine overhaul and repair services, TEG offers a range of light industrial gas turbine equipment solutions for the power, oil and gas, and industrial markets, with a one-stop-shop service, with a staff of more than 80 of the industry’s most enthusiastic and dedicated individuals who have more than 300 combined years of OEM experience. Our field service team is made up of highly skilled professionals – providing an array of solutions, they are supported by a network of in-house crews of mechanical and electrical engineers and customer support. This combined with the prompt service of our expert technical team means we are strongly placed to minimise our customers’ scheduled and non-scheduled site activities.
When you choose our in-house repair and maintenance service, you’re receiving a repair solution proudly tailor-made for you. Our coatings and repair centre offers a service not only for our house customers with the SGT Lincoln range, but for all small industrial gas turbine users. The service is second to none with unbeatable support, and positioned to deliver an all-inclusive package. Whether it be the whole engine or individual components, our team of experts will support you from the beginning to return to service.
The technology and processes we use breathe new life into expired blades, by realigning the molecular structure of a metal blade to reset to an “as-new” condition. This can offer at least one new life-cycle of use.
Our coatings and repair centre specialises in component repair and refurbishment of Siemens (Ruston TA, TB) SGT100, 200 & 300 engine components, including flame tunes and nozzle guide vanes, and are also experienced in other engine ranges such as Dresser Rand, Rolls Royce, GE and Solar®.
The newly acquired GTA provides overhaul, repair and testing services for a longstanding customer base, primarily operating within the upstream and midstream sector, from its facility in Calera, Oklahoma in the US. This is all delivered from a 16,000ft2 workshop, which includes a Saturn and Centaur test facility as well as a fully equipped machine shop. The workshop has two overhead cranes with up to seven tonnes of capability) and build stands for both the Saturn and Centaur engines.
GTA provides a competitively priced overhaul of all Solar®, Saturn & Centaur products. Each turbine is disassembled, cleaned, inspected, repaired, balanced and assembled to the highest quality standards. Most overhaul and repair operations are performed in-house on our machines to high quality standards.
No matter what you subscribe to, with Turbine Efficiency Group we deliver exceptional results all over the globe.
For more information, please visit www.turbineefficiencygroup.com
Made Smarter, the UK answer to Germany’s Industry 4.0, launched its guiding principles for digitalisation in October 2019. The principles were developed in an unprecedented collaboration between government, industry and trade unions, and include an obligation for employers reach mutual agreement with employees on issues related to the introduction of digital technology, as well as a shared ownership of development between employers and employees. To see a full list of the principles, click here.
UK manufacturing is in good health, according to a report from Make UK. In a snapshot of the current state of British industry, figures in UK Manufacturing: The Facts 2019-2020 suggest that UK manufacturing has managed to retain its status as one of the ten leading industrial nations, and is still punching above its weight in terms of exports and R&D spending. The two fastest-growing sectors, based on export value average annual growth between 2008-2018, are transport (aerospace and automotive) and food and drink, at 7.4 per cent and 5.3 per cent respectively. For a full list of figures, click here.
The annual global sales value of robots increased by 6 per cent – a $16.5bn (£12.6bn) increase in shipments – between 2017 and 2018, according to the 2019 World Robotics Report from the international Federation of Robotics. Logistics systems such as autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs) represent 41 per cent of all units sold, followed by inspection and maintenance robots (39 per cent). This is the first time the report has included collaborative robots, or co-bots, which show a 23 per cent increase from the previous year. The top five markets, representing 74 per cent of all global robotics installations, remain China, Japan, South Korea, the US and Germany in that order. Click here for more details.
Businesses will benefit from a £56 million funding boost to drive up productivity across the UK economy. The funding, announced in November by business minister Kelly Tolhurst, is in response to findings of a joint report by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and HM Treasury. The report found that businesses of all sizes that embrace the best leadership and management models and techniques, as well as adopting tried-and-tested technologies, are more profitable and productive and are better to work for. The cash injection will comprise £11 million to create a Small Business Leadership Programme, £20 million to strengthen networks and focus on business improvement, and £25 million to expand Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme. To read the full report, click here.
by Zita Goldman, Business Reporter
Tim Johnsen, Managing Director, Eagle Scientific
When it comes to development projects, even the most apparently straightforward procurement can be rife with complexities. Specifications are often ambiguous, inappropriate or poorly defined, budgets often neglect maintenance and the availability of consumables, and aftersales care overwhelmingly assumes functioning infrastructure and qualified, experienced staff.
The fruits of these mistakes can be seen all over the developing world: equipment out of order because there are no spares, expensive items sitting in unopened boxes because they lack key components, or untrained technicians afraid to touch equipment for fear of “breaking it”.
All of these issues can be avoided by a simple combination: technical expertise and local knowledge. Eagle Scientific Ltd has more than 40 years of experience dealing with some of the world’s most remote and precarious regions. We have performed projects throughout Africa, from the Niger delta in Nigeria to disputed territories in Somalia, and we know the risks and challenges these environments can bring. Our technical expertise is also as deep as it is broad: our company includes former research scientists, production managers and chartered engineers, with more than 300 years combined experience of development projects.
Managing Director, Tim Johnsen, says “When these projects are done right, they can transform economies. Nothing makes me prouder than visiting a hospital or vocational training school we have supplied and seeing our equipment in action, or meeting young people who tell me how our equipment was a springboard for their success”.
The developing world is facing unprecedented challenges from growing populations and diminishing resources, and ultimately the solution from these challenges must come from within. Making sure that these countries can call upon a well-trained, healthy workforce is by far the best way we can help that to happen.
For more information, please visit eagle-scientific.co.uk
In a four-part series, experts from Area, the UK and Europe’s leading workplace design and fit-out specialist, discuss what makes a great workplace.
Video 1 – https://vimeo.com/321719382
Video 2- https://vimeo.com/321720583
Video 3- https://vimeo.com/321721461
Video 4- https://vimeo.com/321722236
When it comes to the modern workplace, one size does not fit all – and what makes a great workplace for one organisation or team won’t necessarily do so for another.
There are key elements, and some common trends, but the overall theme is one of community, flexibility and good leadership – as without managers and team leaders who understand the importance of a sense of space, a workplace will not live up to expectations and people will not be happy, engaged and productive.
So the workplace of the future has to be a happy place. Measuring this is not straightforward, but Area chairman Aki Stamatis, design director Kathryn O’Callaghan-Mills and director Georgia Elliott-Smith have been involved with the strategy, design and delivery of hundreds of successful workplace projects across the UK and Europe, and they have learned from a wealth of ideas and opinions.
Stamatis points to five influential trends in the modern office: automation and AI, big data, community and culture, work as a destination, and engagement. O’Callaghan-Mills and Elliot-Smith add that the coworking movement has changed how we approach the workspace, but that coworking still reflects these trends. What’s more, that sense of fun, community and engagement is there as coworking spaces aim to act as a home from home for users.
This idea of “home” has filtered down into corporate working environments. Like any home, a great workspace is now flexible – no single area fulfils one function anymore. The one-size-fits-all solution isn’t the right approach. Instead, workplaces should be tailored to people working within them and the tasks being carried out. People, space and technology come together to form a functioning environment but are bound together by leadership, an idea that’s championed by the coworking movement, now is such a big part of the property and workplace sector. No matter the design of the space, it must reflect the vision, values and culture of the organisation using it. This is driven by the leaders of the team or business.
Work is no longer just where we go but something that we do, and therefore it crosses over into different parts of day-to-day life. Area’s film series looks at how smart ways of working need to blend, not push, the people element of work. The workplace of the future will be dynamic, and that means issues such as health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally, are hugely important. Workplaces need to be agile, flexible and create a strong sense of community, allowing people to not just interact but feel empowered to go further, and introduce social value and links with local, surrounding communities.
Great workplaces are all about creating the right spaces, where people can prosper. Aki, O’Callaghan-Mills and Elliot-Smith argue that you know if it is working if staff morale and motivation are high. Churn rates will drop, productivity will go up and engagement survey feedback will rise. What’s more, you’ll start to see happier people.
For more information, visit www.area.co.uk
Mauro Arruda, CEO of Bristol-based Smartia, has been shortlisted for both Digital Catapult Platinum Awards and the UK AI Award. Smartia provides scalable AI solutions that enable manufacturers to unleash the power of data analytics, thereby leveraging predictive maintenanceand streamlining their production processes. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Arruda worked for the then-newly-formed Innovation Works division of Airbus, responsible for accelerating new technology adoption across the group.
Paul Bartolo, Professor of Advanced Manufacturing, is the Head of the Manchester Manufacturing Group at the School of MACE and is Industry 4.0 Lead at the University of Manchester & Head of Manufacturing. He is also Visiting Professor at Nanyang University Singapore and Professor of Biomaterials (Cathedra UNESCO) at the University of Habana (Cuba).
Nicholas Hawker is CEO of of First Light Fusion, an energy-researching company spun out of the University of Oxford he co-founded with Yiannis Ventikos, and which is engaged in the development of a new technology called projectile fusion. First Light has set itself the ambitious goal of delivering a working reactor ready for commercialisation by 2030, 10 years earlier than the UK Atomic Energy Authority, which runs the state-funded fusion programme. First Light Fusion has raised a total of £23.7 million in funding over four rounds.
Brian Holliday leads Siemens Digital Industries in the UK and Ireland. He is a regular media commentator on productivity and digital manufacturing and Siemens’s UK Government Affairs Programme Lead for Industrial Strategy and Skills.
Frances O’Grady is the General Secretary of the TUC. She led on the establishment of the union learning organisation unionlearn, which came into being in 2006. Unionlearn works with employers, unions and government to help around 220,000 workers per year to improve basic skills and access lifelong learning. Kate Bell, Head of Policy at TUC, is of the conviction that businesses “don’t invest enough in technology or get the most out of it.”
Jürgen Maier was the CEO of Siemens UK until his resignation in December 2019 after a 33-year year career at the German manufacturer. Since June 2019 he has been Chairman at the board of Digital Catapult, Manchester. He is also the Chair of the Made Smarter Commission, whose goal is to make the Fourth Industrial Revolution a success.
Source: Zita Goldman, Business Reporter
Edward Grigg, General Manager, Joe Barton, Head of Supply Chain Management, Kelly Palmer, Account Manager and Angela Allen, Account Manager, Incorporatewear
Video 1 – https://vimeo.com/353359244
Video 2 – https://vimeo.com/353360729
Video 3 – https://vimeo.com/353357282
Ed Grigg and the team from Incorporatewear, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of uniform, joins Business reporter to talk about account management, the importance of sustainability and the implications of costing versus quality.
In this video, Ed Grigg, General Manager of Incorporatewear, which has been trading for over 20 years explains how significant branding is, and how important it is to protect the brands they represent.
‘Every uniform has to both encapsulate the brand and empower the wearer’. Working closely with the design team Incorporatewear are able to carry out wearer trials of new fabrics, styles and clothing ranges to ensure the wearers are happy with their uniforms.
Joe Barton, Head of Supply Chain at Incorporatewear, joined the conversation to explain how our customers look to us for support and innovation in sustainability. ‘Working with our customers we have found solutions using recycled polyester, plastic free packaging and economical laundry of high turnover items’.
‘The uniform industry is changing, balancing the difference between low cost products vs higher end products and their lifespans are a constant challenge for us and our customers. We must weigh up what effect this has on sustainability, also we look at the impact on the brand, what does a cheap product look like for the brand and the effect it can have in representing that brand. Would a more expensive product compliment the brand better?’ commented Ed Grigg.
Elsewhere, Account Managers Angela and Kelly with over 25 years’ experience between them, talk about their large-scale accounts and how Incorporatewear constantly evolve with each customer account.
Joe Barton concludes the interview by underling the need to balance sustainability, costing and brand. ‘sustainability is key, it can be designed into both the product and business processes. It’s not just about recycled fabrics’.
For more information, please click here.
There are 35,000 dentists in the UK working in approximately 10,000 dental practices, but only a few can offer long opening hours. So how can young professionals and working parents find treatment?
My name is Anushika Brogan. I’m the managing director of Damira Dental Studios. At Damira, we offer NHS and private dental services. We try to be as flexible as possible with our patients. We offer extended hours in most of our practices. We understand people are busy. It’s difficult to find a dentist who opens at times when life gets busy, and you just can’t fit everything in.
In a lot of our practices, we open weekends, and Saturdays, and Sundays. In many of our practices, we are open eight till eight 365 days a year. I think the relationship that patients have with our team is really important. From the moment they step foot in our practices, they are made to feel welcome. The dentists are caring and gentle. We try to make our pricing as affordable as possible, so that everybody is clear on what they can expect from our sites.
I had really crooked teeth. My wisdom teeth came through, and they pushed my teeth out of alignment, both the top and the bottom. And it really impacted my confidence. I felt conscious of my teeth at work, meeting new people, so I came to Damira. And I told them about my concerns, and what I didn’t like about my smile.
Using the latest technology, they were able to show me what my teeth looked like now, and what they could look like if I go through with the treatments. And the process was really great. You know, wearing them in the day, they’re comfortable. No one really notices that you are straightening your teeth, so yeah, it’s completely changed my life. I feel confident. I’m really happy with my smile. I smile all the time. People comment about how I’m always smiling, and I’m really happy with the end result.
The biggest thing that we’ve agreed on is attitude. People can learn most things if they have the right attitude, and we’re quite prepared to teach people. We don’t expect people to come to us knowing everything. But if they’ve got the right attitude to work, and they’re flexible, then Damira is the right place for them really.
Hi, my name is Siddhika. I’m a dentist that works in Damira Dental Studios in Oxford.
I’m a deputy manager at Bury Knowle.
I’m the practise manager.
And I’m the trainee dental nurse at Damira.
I was relatively new to the system and this scheme, because I moved from Scotland.
I started with the company as a trainee dental nurse. I was able to show different leadership qualities. The company was able to see where I’d like to progress to in the growth to a practise manager position.
I have been offered lots of opportunity for progression. And if you’re looking for progression, then there is plenty of opportunity.
Previously, I was in retail. I wanted to do a bit more with my life, and I thought dentistry was a great path to take down.
They would put me on an invisible brace course. They also put me on an ethical sales course. That’s all through the company itself providing you these opportunities, which would otherwise be quite difficult to come by.
I definitely want to finish off my course I’m currently taking now to be a qualified dental nurse.
And then I’m also looking into going down even the hygienist route or becoming a dentist myself.
The company have given me lots of opportunities to change my workload pattern hours due to my changing circumstances with my personal life, and I’ve done auditing from home. I’ve been an area manager, a practise manager. And now I’m back at Bury Knowle part time as a deputy, which I’m loving.
We always make reference to the fact that you’re part of the Damira family, and that relates to our patients. We want patients to feel like their welcome in our practices. We want them to feel relaxed, and comfortable, and the same with our staff as well. We want to feel like there’s an open door approach to everything.
To find out more, visit damiradental.co.uk
Made Smarter hosts the UK’s premier gathering of senior-level manufacturing executives interested in developing their own digital strategies, and one of the biggest industry 4.0 tech events of 2020. Click here for more details.
The largest gathering of manufacturing data professionals in the country, the Industrial Data Summit creates a structured approach to help manufacturing leaders understand the way ahead and capitalise on the data generated by their operations. One stream of the summit will focus on data management, while the other will discuss how data can be turned into actions that create real business value. Click here for more details.
This summit includes keynotes and discussions for guidance on putting in place the people, process and technology to enable transformational innovation within your enterprise and across your supply chain. The interactive format enables attendees to get as much from the speakers as from their fellow delegates. Click here for more details.
Hosted by UK-RAS Networks, IRS is the one-day centrepiece event of UK Robotics Week, featuring live demos of the latest UK innovations plus insights from world-renowned technologists. The UK Robotics Week presents over 165 events ranging from competitions, lectures, open days, symposia, hackathons, festivals, workshops and film premieres throughout the UK. Click here for more details.
John Collard, CEO, Sports Impact
Firmly established as an important aspect of modern life, sport occupies a vast array of global media platforms and record-breaking sporting events attract huge audiences.
Sports brands and professional athletes are among the world’s most prominent and influential icons, as the number of new fans and followers grows each year. Different sports compete for greater profiles, funding and participants, while sporting goods companies look to supply an ever-expanding range of equipment designed to make each sport more accessible and inclusive.
So how can brands looking to make an impact with innovative products, services or sponsorships advance their business interests in such a massive and congested marketplace? Do they adopt conventional marketing methods including PR, or rely entirely on social media campaigns to get their message across to the biggest audiences in the digital era? And do the concepts behind their product launches incorporate elements that will generate maximum exposure to convince potential buyers to invest with them?
There are many examples of brands and products that have not fulfilled their true potential, thanks to poorly timed introductions that lacked sufficient planning, budget or PR expertise. In the past, some famous brands have turned to PR only when threatened by a hostile takeover – by which time it’s often too late to tell the stories that could have helped to retain control.
Sports Impact has been publicising brands and products for almost 20 years, and averages more than 30 new product launches each year on behalf of clients offering premium events and products. With a background in sports journalism, we look to identify and convey the strongest storyline that will serve the interests of both the client and the media. In communicating the story, we then deploy a variety of PR and marketing techniques to deliver branded media coverage across the leading sporting markets. These include digital and print advertising, social media campaigns and tailored press events designed to enhance media relationships and achieve greater exposure.
CEO John Collard has no doubt that investing in traditional public relations can deliver strategically consistent messaging and shape perceptions to create the ideal sales environment. “Successful product launches are invariably a combination of great product, perfect timing and attention to detail when it comes to employing the most effective marketing tools – and professional PR remains one of those,” he said. “Provided the PR team is engaged early enough in the planning stages, it can often make a significant difference in the most cost-effective way.”
Contact Sports Impact to see how we can make a difference to the reputation, profile and sales of your premium sporting brand or event!
Effective mentoring can help individuals make vital connections and ensure organisations are able to boost engagement and productivity. But facilitating that is no easy matter.
According to the Office for National Statistics, productivity in the UK fell at its fastest rate in five years in the second quarter of 2019, continuing the trend of recent years. The UK is not unique in facing what has been called the “productivity puzzle”, but it is one of the more glaring examples.
There are many contributory factors for this, but one fundamental reason is that a bad culture means many organisations are failing to get the most of employees and their capabilities, leading to low levels of employee engagement and a lack of innovation.
But, for many organisations, the answer to greater productivity may be closer to home than they think. According to research, employees that are mentored are seven times more likely to be engaged, six times more likely to be promoted, and are an average of 8 per cent more productive than those who are not. Furthermore, they boast a 20 per cent higher retention rate than other employees.
The problem, though, is that while around 75 per cent of Fortune 500 businesses run mentoring programmes, these are often flawed, inconsistent and hard to maintain, and tend to reinforce existing silos, meaning they fail to address key issues around inclusion and diversity.
Two years ago, Ed Beccle – then still at school – hit on the idea of a tutoring app which could connect school pupils looking for extra support with university students able to provide that, and then sought to expand this concept into the world of work.
With his co-founder Henry Costa, who had come off the back of large success in African Fintech, Beccle created the result – Grasp. A platform designed to enable every employee from any level in an organisation to connect with others in the business, creating a culture of engagement and helping to improve productivity. The platform has since gone on to attract investment from some of the biggest names in business, as a result of cold emails, a game of squash and a very impressive network.
“We’ve always had the ethos that everyone has something to share and learn, and it doesn’t matter how senior or junior you are,” says Beccle. “In huge businesses, everyone combined must know everything but it’s how you work out who knows what and then how you connect with that specific person.”
Grasp offers a number of products designed to help organisations overcome the issues of low levels of staff retention, productivity and engagement, and bolts on to existing HR software. All its products revolve around the core belief of connecting users in a smart way through the use of both new and latent data sets. Mentoring is Grasp’s flagship product, aiming to disrupt the way mentoring programmes work in enterprises. Grasp believes in being the catalyst and spark for new and meaningful conversations where everyone has something to offer.
Once introductions have been made, individuals can either connect through a Zoom call or arrange to meet in person, depending on their location and the nature of the liaison. “Technology plays a huge part in bringing people together although it’s really important to get people meeting up in person,” says Beccle.
“There’s a huge opportunity that’s missed in just meeting people. But a lot of the time people barely know what the person 12 steps away from them does, let alone two or 10 floors above.” He’s keen to stress, too, that it’s not just a case of more junior staff being mentored by more experienced ones, as often younger employees will have skills that can be useful to older workers.
Embedding the technology that can help organisations make the most of the skills and experiences they already have in the business can create a culture where mentoring is truly effective, he adds, bringing direct benefits to the bottom line.
This is likely to become even more important as Generation Z enters the workplace, believes Beccle, and organisations need to do more to engage them and tackle the productivity crisis. “This will get better and bigger,” he predicts. “Every company will need to use something like this in future.”
Digital twins have been used in manufacturing for some time now, but they’re now advanced enough to enable organisations to make a digital model of their complete production process, which can help meet customer demand and cut down on production costs. By mirroring specific manufacturing processes, businesses can predict the outcome of the entire product cycle. The only alternative is costly real-life testing, which can lead to grave financial losses and disillusionment. In this article you can learn about simulation software company Lanner’s involvement in the Factory-in-a-Box initiative of the Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC).
British online-only grocery giant Ocado was de-designated as a retailer by the CMA in November, and is set to become a £3.5bn tech giant, a transformation largely fuelled by the proprietary technology it developed for its warehouses and fulfilment centres which it sold to other retailers such as Kroger in the US (Kroger’s first fulfilment centre using the Ocado Smart Platform technology is to open in 2021). Ocado is also identifying and promoting new use-cases for the technology in other sectors such as luggage-handling and vertical farming. To read about the next chapter of the Ocado success story, click here.
The opening panel at the Industry 4.0 Summit 2019 focused more on finding a remedy for the problems of British manufacturing that have persisted since the Financial Crisis of 2008 than technology itself. The discussion clearly illustrates the momentum gathering in British manufacturing to restore the sector to its former glory through digitalisation, as well as of initiatives that aim to facilitate the diffusion of digital technologies among British enterprises, especially SMEs. At the end of the video you can also hear about how a new, strategic approach to the employer-employee relationship can be key to bridging the digital skills gap. See more here.
Smart factories are a game-changer for US manufacturing, with the potential to spark far greater productivity, according to a 2019 Deloitte and MAPI study. The study, Manufacturing Goes Digital: Smart Factories, found that “companies report as much as 10–12 per cent gains in areas like manufacturing output, factory utilisation, and labour productivity after they invested in smart factory initiatives.” Using the study data and a forecasting model, Deloitte and MAPI predict that productivity will grow at a compound annual rate of 2.3 per cent between 2025 and 2030. To read more, click here.
Source: Zita Goldman, Business Reporter