I recently joined GxP Systems MD Linda Mellerick at the Cork Electrical Industry Association’s Annual Conference at the Radisson SAS Hotel, Little Island, Cork. The theme for this year’s conference was “The Changing Role of Manufacturing in Ireland,” which produced some very relevant topics for our own business.
Proceedings began with a short introduction by Cllr John Buttimer, Lord Mayor of Cork. Mayor Buttimer spoke of the challenges facing the manufacturing industry (labour shortage, logistical issues, greater competition from emerging nations such as Ukraine, China, etc) and suggested they must be tackled by educational bodies, chambers of commerce and the companies themselves by continuously lobbying government for increased resources aimed at education.
Michael Devane, chairman of the conference, spoke next on the importance of sharing industrial and technological developments with young people in order to make them more aware of the opportunities for technical professions, including engineers and scientists. He quoted an executive from an un-named company who invited a local secondary school group to attend a conference about trends in electronics; the executive remarked that the energy in the room created by the kids attending was remarkable, transforming a usually quite mundane event into something much more productive for all attendees.
Caroline Dowling, Flextronics President, Integrated Network Solutions, and our first guest speaker, discussed the “Internet of Things”. She provided valuable insight into how Cloud Computing will affect us all, from being able to make a call on a glove to monitoring a sleeping infant using a wearable patch – all connected to wireless devices. Caroline spoke passionately about Right Shoring–the importance to multi-nationals of choosing correct locations for manufacturing operations. She showed a fascinating infograph depicting the effect that an increase in the price of oil to $250 a barrel would have on production costs – Ireland would rank as the most competitive against Ukraine, China, Singapore and Mexico —proving once again that Ireland is an excellent choice for business.
The penultimate speaker was Tom Mangan, VP Operations and General Manager, Boston Scientific Cork. Tom gave an overview of Boston Scientific Corks’ five-year strategic plan and how the company puts a focus on quality of care to its customers. He showed a heartwarming video of how his company’s products saved the life of a young girl from Boston who suffered from a number of aneurysms. His final message before signing off was “Remain relevant; stay competitive,” an important message given growing global competition.
Our final speaker of the day was Bob Savage, Vice President and Managing Director at EMC Ireland. Bob began with a powerful quote “Leadership is about seeing around corners.” He spoke of the reasons that Ireland is such an attractive place for multi-nationals (with benefits like educated workforce, reputation, tax incentives, political stability, innovation, and being one of the only English speaking countries in the EU), and outlined the four phases that EMC went through as a manufacturing facility since the company’s arrival in Cork in 1988. In order to maintain our educated workforce, Bob said that EMC and VMware (their sister company specializing in virtualization and cloud infrastructure) are educating the unemployed by offering a conversion programme and Cloud computing courses.
All in all, the speakers, each one a leader of industry, provided valuable Insights into the changing manufacturing industry in Cork and Ireland and the opportunities that lie ahead for all businesses. I came away from the meeting greatly encouraged by the recognition that GxP Systems and Ireland are both in strong positions to support manufacturing growth.
By Damien Hanley