The UK is on the precipice of significant industrial disruption and Scottish businesses must be prepared and supported by Government to stay competitive. This was the message shared by Paul Sweeney, Labour and Co-Operative MP for Glasgow North East and Shadow Scotland Minister, as he visited the main office of industrial automation expert Novotek UK and Ireland in Glasgow.
During the visit, Sweeney met with George Walker, managing director of Novotek UK and Ireland, to discuss how policymakers can better support industrial businesses, as well as to hear Novotek's view on the challenges facing the industry. Novotek has worked closely with many businesses of all sizes across the UK and Europe, helping them to improve their operational effectiveness and agility.
"Scottish manufacturing faces a number of big challenges in the years ahead, particular with the disruptive advent of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)," says Sweeney. "It was insightful to meet with George to understand more clearly how these changes will affect the industry, and it's inspiring to see how Novotek is adapting and helping other businesses to adapt to a shifting industry.
"However, it's clear that more is needed from policymakers to support industrial businesses, particularly smaller ones. There needs to be more put in place to reduce the risk to small businesses, whether it's by offering financial support to invest in new technologies or by strengthening the supply chain so Scottish businesses aren't dependent on a handful of major OEMs.
"The UK's imminent departure from the European Union may pose a risk to businesses, but it's crucial that Scottish companies are supported in embracing other opportunities in markets around the world. There is no doubt that companies like Novotek can help Scotland stand at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution."
Novotek UK and Ireland launched in early 2018 following the acquisition of Kerrco Automation, a company George Walker helped to establish. Walker remains deeply rooted in the local community, with Novotek having worked closely with local universities to support engineering education.
As the UK partner for GE Digital, Novotek has been helping businesses automate their operations to improve performance and minimise process waste. The company notes that the opportunities presented by IIoT technologies offer a viable solution to the problem of market instability and uncertainty.
"In challenging times and uneasy markets, the best approach is often to become agile and efficient," Walker explains. "We've worked with companies that have achieved more robust, reliable operations by making the right decisions around investment in technology. These investments help protect them from uncertainty.
"However, this can be risky for smaller businesses, which is why we're calling for more support from Government to secure the future of UK industry. There's little doubt that the industry of tomorrow is digitally-driven and built on automation and data, but the role Scotland plays in that depends on the incentives and framework in place.
"Our meeting with Paul Sweeney helped us to express the concerns of the industry, and we're keen to help policymakers understand the reality of the challenge ahead for UK manufacturers, large and small."
Novotek UK and Ireland is inviting UK manufacturers to consult with the company to discuss digital strategy and guidance on adopting industrial automation ahead of Brexit. Manufacturers, utilities providers and energy companies can contact the company on +44 (0) 141 332 1551 or firstname.lastname@example.org.