March 6, 2024

Industry Insider Column

Guest Author – Stephen Eddowes, CEO at MAKOMESH 

The Future Of Manufacturing Is Now

One question I am regularly asked by business leaders is: How do you do it? More precisely, they want to know how we undertake the wide-ranging implementation of digital technologies in a manufacturing business. The company behind MAKOMESH has a proud Australian manufacturing heritage dating back to 1984. Since then, we have successfully transformed from a traditional manufacturer to a world leader in the development and use of advanced manufacturing technologies (Industry 4.0). We received that accolade from the World Economic Forum’s prestigious Global Lighthouse Network. MAKOMESH was also recognised last year as one of Australia’s most innovative manufacturers


at the Endeavour Awards.

Reflecting on our transformative journey and the many challenges we had to navigate, three critical success factors emerge. The first is you must develop a strategic intent proactively led from the highest level of your organisation. Second, adopt a modern, cloud-based, data-first digital platform. Third, empower your people to operate in collaborative cross-functional teams motivated to work towards a common goal. 

Creating a strategic intent is a critical starting point for a successful transformation. Without a bold vision or goal, long-term success is at risk. The analogy I like to use is that of a 100 metre runner at the Paris Olympics. Ten years ago, that athlete set a goal of winning the gold medal in Paris; and that a time of 9.5 seconds would be necessary. So, ask yourself….within your business, what is your 9.5 seconds? At MAKOMESH, our strategic intent is to achieve and maintain cost leadership in a highly competitive commodity market. Everyone in our team is aware that our customers now expect us to “run 9.5 seconds” or better and everyone in our team is constantly working towards that (cost leadership) goal.

The second success factor may seem more challenging as many traditional manufacturers have large investments in old style, on-premises, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. The truth is these systems are not compatible with successful and wide-ranging digital transformation outcomes. To be successful, the adoption of a cloud-based, data-first digital platform is essential. Whilst this may appear daunting, the decision will set the foundation for successful digitisation at scale across the organisation. Such success would not be possible with legacy ERP systems. My advice is to start thinking about everything you do as being data. Whether it’s customer, product, order or machine data. Then think about the sources and uses of that data to help you structure use cases based on your customers’ requirements and business needs.

Finally, your team needs to be at the heart of your culture and strategic intent. The traditional silos and departments structure, which exists in most manufacturing businesses, needs to be changed into cross-functional teams. Your team needs a clear understanding of your organisational purpose (strategic intent); plus their role in the journey; and they also have to have a voice in solving the many complex problems which arise. My experience is that this third success factor is not only critical to a successful transformation journey but also offers a great opportunity to change the engagement and effectiveness of your entire workforce.

Our team engages in consistent patterns of collaborative and agile ways of work, driven by our purpose to build a better manufacturing system. Our core competence comes from workforce engagement by ensuring each team member has a voice and by encouraging them to help us find a better way of doing everything we do. We set quarterly goals linked to daily programs and actions which facilitate collaboration, and we inherently question why we do things, and how and when we do them.

I believe it´s a great time in history to be a competitive manufacturer because investing in advanced systems and technologies truly does drive significant impact. Our business is performing better, our people have better jobs and our impact on the environment is better. With a disciplined, long-term view and a clear understanding and commitment to the three key success factors, manufacturers of any size can overcome the challenges that exist on a digital transformation journey. Whilst the challenges to transform are significant, the alternative is that you get left behind by those who will be running 9.5 seconds in Paris.

Got Something To Say?  If you would like to be the guest author of an Industry Insider column you are very welcome. The choice of topic is yours. You might like to have a rant against some overbearing bureaucracy, or maybe you think further regulation is needed in a particular sector? Perhaps you want to complain about some unfairness which exists in the industry. There is no cost involved in being the guest author. Simply contact the publisher, Mark Maccallum, via his email: [email protected]

Disclaimer. The Industry Insider column is an opinion piece where the views expressed belong solely and entirely to the indicated author, in this case: Stephen Eddowes, the CEO at MAKOMESH. Australian Steel News accepts no responsibility whatsoever for the veracity of the author´s opinions nor for the accuracy of any information given by him.

If you would like to contact Stephen Eddowes, you can do so via this email: [email protected]