2019 CEO Insights: David Crossley
What key trends do you predict will have an impact on the growth of your industry in 2019?
Automation and Industry 4.0 will really start to make an impact in 2019. We are already getting interest from many of our customers on what it means to them and how they can utilise the latest technologies to create a competitive advantage for their businesses. Interest in our seminars has been extremely high in 2018, and a number of industry leaders have kicked off Industry 4.0 pilot projects with us. Automation of processes and utilising data to drive efficiencies requires sensors to be the eyes and ears. We are therefore seeing the drive in automation across all industries from mining to logistics to manufacturing pushing further ahead in 2019.
Another driver in 2019 will be the continued growth of online shopping driving faster parcel processing and tracking. We all want our parcels delivered next day — or today if possible — and we want to know exactly where they are at any point in time. To do this you need robust scanning and tracking and we see significant demand in this area. Crucial in our market is the ability to provide 24/7 support to ensure our customers can maintain their delivery targets at all times. We are seeing real growth in service support contracts and ongoing growth in our systems and service teams is expected to continue in 2019 and beyond.
How is your industry preparing for advanced manufacturing capabilities?
As a manufacturer of sensors, SICK is at the forefront of Industry 4.0 and a leader in the drive towards advanced manufacturing. That drive is fundamental to creating opportunities for new business models, enhancing performance, managing risk and ultimately making informed decisions through data and insight.
As building blocks of the future, SICK sensors act in an intelligent manner and can further process the collected measurement data and autonomously transmit it, and SICK is continuing to make advances in the areas of networking and data transmission. We enable our customers to collect targeted, application-specific data by individually configuring our sensors for optimised and efficient production processes. Supporting this change we see the industry commencing a digital journey through a willingness to be open to collaborating across industry, embracing new ideas and further developing an agile start-up culture. This, coupled with a clear vision and strategy tailored towards a technology and digital roadmap, will transform traditional industrial automation concepts into the new age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
What is your industry doing to attract, upskill and retain talent?
The culture at SICK is based around its people, so attracting and retaining talent is critical. We have recently launched a program called SensorING, where we take a new graduate and send them to our head office in Germany for three months, then to a regional subsidiary in Singapore for three months, before they come back into our business in Australia or New Zealand for an additional six months rotating throughout the business disciplines. This program is designed to jump-start the career of talented engineers and create the environment to build our future leaders.
We also invest heavily in training of our people. Around 10–15 of our team travel to Germany each year to learn about the latest technology, complete leadership training and network across the business. SICK is heavily focused on supporting the next generation of engineers by actively collaborating with local educational institutions such as RMIT, Swinburne University and University of Melbourne. We open up our training facilities to run multiple sessions with final-year students on SICK leading technologies and how they are used in real-life applications to help our customers. In addition we have for many years supported interns from our Germany head office so they gain international experience and understand the issues faced in global subsidiaries. This exposes them to different parts of the business in projects such as mapping price approval processes, streamlining our external safety training programs and optimisation of our inventory management. All projects are based around some initial research into the issues and business, putting together a business case or brief for change, planning and managing the project to completion and then formally presenting the results to the management team.
We also support a local intern focusing on Industry 4.0 applications. These projects are customer facing and require the student to understand the customer’s process, apply lean thinking and then implement sensor technologies to any gaps uncovered for the collection of data for analysis.
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