While supporting the Jaguar Land Rover Global Supplier Integration event in February, we took the opportunity to interview four industry experts. Our aim was to understand their main business challenge for 2017 and share with you how they each plan on overcoming that challenge. We also wanted to know what advancing technologies they are planning to invest most in across 2017 and why. In addition, we covered topics such as investment across the automotive industry, innovation and the current climate.
Interview 4: Simon Ordish, Director at Majenta Solutions.
What impacts of Brexit are you already seeing with our customers?
I have recently started asking all of our customers when I meet with them: what are they thinking? How is it impacting them? What are they thinking about the future with regards to Brexit? It’s affecting people in different ways, some of them positively and some of them more negatively. For instance, an automotive OEM working with fairly specialist vehicles down in the south of England, they are actually benefitting from this hugely, because of the pound their export market last year went through the roof. But other suppliers that we deal with are finding things difficult because of the increase in raw material costs, that’s having a massive impact on what are already very thin profit margins. So, it’s a mixed bag as far as Brexit goes, uncertainty isn’t helping. We have a customer that I spoke to just last week, when I asked them how Brexit was impacting them, they said that pre-Brexit they were expecting to get sign off for an increased manufacturing facility, so they were having a new factory built down in the south of England in Portsmouth, but that has all been shelved now in favour of expanding capacity in Germany. So obviously that has had an impact in UK manufacturing jobs.
How do you think Brexit will affect the engineering job market? Will we lose or gain skills?
Again, I meet with our customers and when I walk around their design offices there is a lot of European based design talent that they are using and I think we’ll end up losing some of that potentially. Obviously that’ll open up positions potentially for UK graduates and engineers but there is a skill shortage. It has been mentioned in the news recently that the engineering courses at universities are not as well attended as they have been previously, so I think we are going to suffer a dip in skills.
The Government have announced an increased apprenticeship scheme, but I’m just not sure that it’s going to meet the requirement quickly enough.
So I think we will see a short term dip in the amount of engineering skills that we have got available for our customers to utilise.
How do you think the current climate in America will impact the engineering sector as a whole?
The “Trump effect”!
I have spoken to some customers today who attended the JLR event and they are ever so concerned about the situation in Mexico.
A lot of UK OEMs and first tier suppliers have recently reestablished themselves; moved from the US to Mexico and now there is all this talk from Trump about 20% import tax. So I think that they are fairly horrified right now and are just wondering what on earth is going to happen.
The general uncertainty as well is really having an effect, I’m 40 something years old now and I cannot remember a previous time in my life when there has been so much uncertainty, and general worry about where we are and what the future will bring.
How important is it for companies to stay innovative in this uncertain time?
It’s extremely important for companies to stay innovative. Companies need to do more with less, they need to listen to the voice of the customer, create greater diversity in their product lines, think about customisation, and they have to do this with decreased profit margins and more pressure on their raw material costs.
This is where Majenta comes in. We can help our customers more than ever in navigating their way through the huge amount of design and manufacturing technology there is these days and also help them to do more with what they’ve already got. For instance, we provide training and business process consultancy to help them do more with their current resource and drive those efficiencies to build innovation into their products; effectively delivering better products, of a better quality and at the right time to their customer base.
To understand more about how Majenta Solutions can help your business visit: https://www.majentasolutions.com/why-majenta-solutions/