Murray Callander will be chairing Keynotion’s Smart Manufacturing World London. He will also be conducting a workshop on Industry 4.0 for all organization sizes.
Murray is one of the original founders of Eigen and the visionary behind the Eigen Ingenuity platform. He has a passion for information models and applying these to real world situations. He is responsible for the development and deployment of the next generation of technology in support of Industry 4.0 and Digitalisation in Oil and Gas. We spoke with Murray about the latest operational and technology matters behind the international manufacturing scenes, and his vision for the manufacturing landscape in today’s world.
Read the full interview below.
- What is your outlook for 2022?
This is a great question and I have to take a moment to consider the different angles. I think, if you just listened to the news, you would feel pretty depressed about the outlook for 2022. But the news isn’t reality. Here at Eigen, we are pretty excited about the opportunities that are going to arise over the next 5 years or so. As we’ve seen at this conference there’s lots of very smart, passionate people out there coming up with new ideas and ways to solve problems. I’ve always been a contrarian and I think these times of challenge are the best of times because they drive innovation and change. I think in 2022 we’re going to see a lot more countries take the environment a lot more seriously. The US has simultaneously been hit by record breaking drought in the North West, floods in the North East, and hurricanes in the South East, so I think we’re going to see a more serious shift towards CO2 reduction from there. And that will have a knock on effect on Europe and the rest of the world. I think we’re going to see energy prices go up, or at least stay at the higher levels they are at now, and that’s actually a good thing. It’s better for the environment and it drives innovation. I hope we see a more long term strategic focus from governments around the world, and particularly the UK, to rebalance our energy mix and invest in more of the latest generation of nuclear power to stabilise the electricity supply and provide a platform for transitioning away from fossil fuels over the next 10-20 years.
- What is your view on the fast changing technologies and business strategies in the manufacturing world?
I think the two are separate. As a business you can’t keep changing your technology; and a fast changing strategy sounds like a positive spin on a state of panic! Firstly, you’ve got to know what you’re trying to achieve – you’ve got to have a vision. And then the technology and the strategy are tools to achieve that vision. You change them when it makes sense. Here at Eigen we are always on the look-out for good ideas or ways that we can improve our products and strategies but we have yet to completely change them. So I suppose it does depend a bit on what’s meant by “fast”. At Eigen we think in time units of years. You need to be looking 3 to 5 years ahead and you need to give yourself at least a year to make any significant changes, and then probably more like 2 years to be able to see the impacts. Does that count as fast?
- How rethinking manufacturing strategies can help us move forward from the pandemic?
Well, on the one hand you can say that one should only rethink a strategy if it’s not working, or you think it’s about to stop working. There are many reasons that a particular manufacturing strategy may not be working anymore; staff can’t or won’t come to the premises, there’s a shortage of materials or the costs have gone up; the demand has gone up or gone away; access to market has changed, or the environmental impact is costly. Provided there is still a demand for the product then yes, you absolutely need to rethink the manufacturing strategy and that probably means re-thinking the product design as well. But there is another thought that occurs to me and that is that your strategy could be working for reasons you don’t or didn’t, understand. I think the pandemic has shown us all that our models of the world were too simplistic. We might have thought we knew what was going on but in fact there were far more factors that could affect us than we realised. So, whether this counts as rethinking or not, I do think this is a really great opportunity to review our understanding of things.
- Your take on this saying: Innovation theatre is the opposite of strategy sufficiency.
I didn’t know what Strategy Sufficiency is, but some quick Googling revealed this exact phrase in the book “Why Digital Transformations Fail” by Tony Saldanha. I agree with what he says about it, which is, in summary, you’ve got to really mean it, which means living it – taking the long term view and applying rigour. Change comes from the top and you can’t make it happen by outsourcing or whitewashing over your existing culture with a few hackathons and beanbags in the communal areas. I understand why companies do it though, because they are pressured by investors or the media into demonstrating what they are doing about the latest thing; be that innovation, digital transformation, going green or diversity. Unless you really believe in any of these things the temptation is to just do something quick and cheap and hope it goes away.
- What do you look forward to discussing at the Smart Manufacturing World London 2021? What is the desired outcome of the event for you?
I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s happening in the areas of additive manufacturing, sustainable processes and learning from nature. One of the things I feel we’re having to come to terms with is that the world is more complex that we thought! I’m sensing a more humble approach now as we look to what we can learn from ecosystems and design in nature and from each other.