GM Blog: Adaptation, Polarities & Doing Good Business in 2020
Group GM, John, reflects on the year that has been and shares his vision for a remarkable 2021.
2019 has been a year of preparation. As Facteon’s new Group General Manager, I have big plans for both our New Zealand and China businesses in 2020. Above all, Facteon’s approach to automation, robotics, Industry 4.0 and Industrial IoT (IIoT) projects will be inspired by a single notion: co-creation with our customers.
The days of customers coming to us with fully developed and highly specific RFQs are over. This shift has shaped the nature of the interactions between customer and vendor. Previously, operating as a technology vendor fulfilled the customer’s expectations. Now, customers require a genuine innovation partner, not just a vendor.
Commencing 2020, co-creation with our customers will be a major focus for the business. A partnership with the customer is the foundation of co-creation. With the leaders before me having instilled that value in Facteon Group’s culture, I aspire to lead the team towards consistently delighting the customer through the co-creation of innovative technology solutions.
We deliver co-creation in many forms. A mix of productisation and customisation underpins my strategic vision for the Facteon Group in 2020. A major achievement and step on this co-creation journey was securing a Universal Robots (UR) partnership for Australia and New Zealand. UR is the undisputed leader in the cobot space. Cobots, or collaborative robots, are an innovative robotic technology that works safely alongside human operators to perform a variety of manufacturing tasks.
The flexibility of a cobot aligns with Facteon’s co-creation vision. In addition to being simple-to-program and easy-to-install with a fast payback period, your cobot can be easily customised to perform a range of functions. With the addition of a new end effector (the end of the robotic arm that interacts with the manufacturing environment) and in-house programming, one cobot could perform pick and place, quality assessment and packing.
Driven by a commitment to delivering Industry’s best technology, Facteon works with manufacturers of all sizes to develop and deploy a customised solution. For the benefit of small to medium manufacturers, cobots don’t come with the price tag of a traditional industrial robot. A cobot’s flexibility, simplicity and attractive price tag make the technology a logical and affordable first step into automation. However, cobots are not simply a low-cost robotic solution, they also add value in large-scale production facilities through precision and repeatability.
For manufacturers requiring a fully customised solution, we can deliver. Facteon should not be typecast as a custom build and design shop. However, it would be a disservice to deny the value of this heritage and the role it plays in our approach to innovation today.
With a dedicated R&D department and a growing team of IIoT product developers, a combination of custom developed and off-the-shelf solutions is what Facteon customers can expect in 2020. The integration of these two offerings under one roof is the Facteon advantage.
In the Internet Age, it’s not enough to be just an engineering or mechanical design vendor. To delight our customers, we must be equipped to operate as a full-suite technology and innovation partner. As mentioned, 2019 has been a year of preparation. In 2020, our industry will be shaped by changing demands for software and service.
The convergence of information technologies (IT) and operating technologies (OT) is a pillar of the Industry 4.0 era. It is also the foundation of successful IIoT technology integration. This trend signals the changing landscape of the manufacturing industry. Manufacturers are no longer content with operating disconnected factories.
Data collection is an initial step on the Industry 4.0 journey. However, data collection isn’t new. Connectivity across the factory and an ability to convert this data into actionable information in real-time for decision making is where manufacturers can capitalise on Industry 4.0 and IIoT technologies.
Following the collection of data, it’s analysed and presented in the form of actionable information. Manufacturers can then make informed decisions regarding the health of their machinery by understanding production trends and metrics with an IIoT software solution. IIoT software tools allow our customers to interpret large amounts of data quickly and easily.
To continue delighting our customers, we seek to future-proof their factories. While we offer IIoT software and hardware solutions for factory optimisation, we also offer on-site factory servicing.
The Facteon China maintenance team has championed this offering in one of our main markets. Our service business is staffed with over 40 maintenance professionals capable of performing PLC, robotics, electrical and mechanical service work.
Despite the rise of software and service as independent trends, there’s a clear connection. Using IIoT sensors, factory maintenance and reliability professionals can draw data to an IIoT software solution. The data collected is transformed into actionable information. Factory maintenance teams can then use IIoT software tools to schedule, track and perform machinery maintenance in-house.
In having worked with our customers as an innovation partner, rather than a vendor, we have an intrinsic understanding of what manufacturers require. That understanding has allowed us to develop IIoT hardware and software solutions in conjunction with our founding customers. So, they’re solutions built by and for manufacturers.
The Facteon team has exceeded my expectations regarding its ability to deliver robust, world-class manufacturing technologies to customers across industries and markets on a tight deadline.
A major achievement this year was delivering a custom CNC rotary axis for the global leader in small satellite launch, Rocket Lab.
The Facteon team demonstrated an ability to collaborate with the customer to design, build and install a world-class machine that will serve the customer for years to come. Most importantly, the machine will allow Rocket Lab to complete the building of a rocket stage in a matter of hours, not weeks or months.
In 2020, Facteon Group’s vision is to continue expanding across markets and industries. This year, we have secured projects across machinery design, automation and IIoT solution implementation for the appliance, medical, and food and beverage industries.
Supporting Facteon Group’s diversification and expansion plans is General Manager of Facteon China, Eric Zhao. His focus is on growing the Group’s capabilities and customer base in China.
I’m certainly standing on the shoulders of giants. I must recognise the skill and tenacity of the leaders that have come before me. The business would not be where it is today without their efforts.
On behalf of the Facteon team, I’d like to thank our customers, partners and suppliers for being a part of Facteon’s success in 2019. We look forward to a mutually prosperous 2020. I’m thrilled to be leading a talented and skilled team as we head into an exciting new chapter and decade.
To conclude my first GM blog, I’d like to share a quote that has remained with me throughout my career:
As the Facteon team continues building factories for the Internet Age, this sentiment will inform every innovation we co-create and every solution we deliver to our customers.
An international designer, builder and innovator of world-class production equipment. As a long established and widely respected organisation, we operate on the forward edge of smart manufacturing, robotics, data science, machine learning technology and IIoT solutions. We aspire to cultivate a smart manufacturing ecosystem in which machinery and software offerings interact seamlessly to maximise operational performance.
Facteon appointed John Cochrane to the role of General Manager – Facteon Group in December of 2019.