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Events coverage

Automation of manufacturing processes – Tychy, 14 November 2018

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For the third time this autumn, the BPCC brought together manufacturers to discuss automation of the workplace.

This time, the event took place at the Tychy sub-zone of the Katowice Special Economic Zone – an area specialising in the automotive sector, and was focused on the car-makers and their supply chain. The event was hosted by Łukasz Górecki, manager of the Silesia Automotive & Advanced Manufacturing Cluster, and opened by Urszula Kwaśniewska, director of the BPCC’s Kraków office.

After Michael Dembinski, the BPCC’s chief advisor set out the key issues facing manufacturers, balancing a tight labour market with the costs and uncertainty of investing in automation, the first  presentation was delivered by Grant Thornton’s Mariusz Słowik. Based on real-life case-studies from firms in the automotive supply chain, Mr Słowik looked at the types of problems that manufacturers face as they implement major (or indeed even minor) automation projects. The second presentation, from Łukasz Chodkowski, managing director, Poland, Déhora International, focused on the workforce, in particular on optimising shift work. He presented the idea of self-rostering, whereby production-line employees can organise their own working time (within limits), with a smart algorithm to juggle their need for work-life balance. The system fits in with the production planning process, optimising labour input and manufacturing output. There followed a discussion about the pros and cons of introducing new automation into existing processes.

Much of the debate was about the skills that go with the technologies, and the need to improve workplace culture as well as implementing new solutions. The education and training of local young people, who will be needed to operate the machines of the future, was also mentioned. To what extent should Poland focus on educating Masters of Engineering, and how necessary will vocational schools be in an era of mechatronics, Internet of Things (IoT), big data and Industry 4.0?

Also present at the event was Tomasz Polinowski from BSI Group, who focuses on the automotive and aerospace sectors. He spoke about the importance of standards, and how the new iteration of ISO 9001 supported business process transformation.

Mr Chodkowski spoke about the changing needs of Poland’s workers, no longer just chasing ever-higher wages, but increasingly concerned about a good atmosphere in the work place, leisure time and employer branding. [Link to Déhora presentation]

There was a lively debate following the two presentations which highlighted the different problems faced by firms in the region’s manufacturing sector, and the solutions which are being used to solve them. Issues surrounding future skills needs will be taken forward by the BPCC at regional and national level.

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