GM Blog: John Cochrane Reflects on the Challenges Faced and Overcome in 2021

2021 has been a year of continued resilience, expansion and growth for Facteon and has really shaped us to embracing the notion of becoming antifragile.

I’m so proud of our team. Here at Facteon, they were agile enough to adapt and to the changing conditions of another unpredictable lockdown. Although our stability was shaken when the announcement was made in August, we were ready to adapt, refresh and behave in different ways, deliver projects in different ways and embrace discomfort. We learned from resilience and leaned in to becoming antifragile and ready for unforeseen circumstances.

Although I don’t have a crystal ball, it was announced last month that from February 2022 there is a loosening of travel restrictions for New Zealand citizens which means our teams will be able to travel easily to support our customers in the early part of 2022. Additionally, from April 2022, New Zealand is open to the world due to vaccination levels exceeding 90% here.

In terms of our local operating environment, the Government outlined a new series of public health measures which effectively does away with the concept of further lockdowns which is a huge relief.

Co-creation with our Customers

A significant market shift that we’ve noticed this year is our customer’s desire to co-create with us. Prior to COVID our customers would come to us with very well crated & detailed proposal documents or RFQs. This year however we’ve noticed less specified requests from our customers and more flexibility & elasticity where they are in search of a co-created solution WITH us. Our customers tell us what they need but seek out a dialog with us to co-create rather than simply respond to their specific requests. Customers are more open to hearing our suggestions to create their automated solutions together because they trust our expertise to come up with more flexible, innovative & future-proofed lines.

As an example of this, one of our customers presented us with an RFQ for 2 separate lines because they had never imagined that both products could be delivered by a single line. After co-creating with us and embodying our expertise they were delighted to find out that we could create their solution in 1 single line. Saving our customers time & money while providing industry leading solutions is what we do best.

Co-creation is a great permanent shift, and we hope our customers continue to keep that mindset to lean on our expertise. Our know-how innovation is why our customers choose us.

Establishing Strategic Partnerships

COVID has forced us to create alternative systems in our delivery model which has helped create additional bandwidth for expected growth in 2022. We have enhanced our delivery model by embracing online communication technology and establishing strategic partnerships with global partners to support us in the installation and commissioning of our projects.

COVID has prompted us to fully embrace and utilise virtual online platforms and interfaces to do factory acceptances with our customers so regardless of distancing restrictions we’re still able to provide innovative automation solutions to our growing customer base. Furthermore, when the line is complete and finally shipped, we send supervisory staff from Facteon, New Zealand and now have local partners in place to help us with the bulk of the labour involved in installation and commissioning.  Formerly, we would manage the install and commissioning 100% by Facteon staff. Now it’s done in partnership where we engage local partners to help us. Our customers appreciate the efficiency and local support this provides them.

Positive New Zealand Market Trends to Industry 4.0

Instead of being entirely export focused which is what we once were, a good portion of our revenue and customer base is growing right here in New Zealand.

2021 has seen shifts in the way New Zealand business envisage & implement automation. More and more smaller businesses in NZ are seeking out automated factory solutions. We’ve noticed a shift in their bias where previously they would have thought that automation is only for big companies. We’re delighted in this new awakening to have local businesses explore single cell or single station solutions to improve their efficiencies in manufacturing as a springboard to deploy automated solutions on their factory floor one step at a time. It’s not about automating your entire factory or digitising your entire operation, it’s about identifying the Achilles heel in the business and embracing industry 4.0 by starting small and taking baby steps. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing proposition

Thank you

2021 has been a year of significant accomplishments as well as challenges which have really shown us the power of what can be achieved together. We’ve worked hard to keep our people, our customers and our business partners at the heart of everything we do.

Our focus is always to keep looking forward and remain at the forefront of creating innovative & industry leading solutions for our customers.

I would like to a moment to thank our customers and partners for their loyalty and support over the past twelve months. We have big plans to continue shipping our advanced and innovative manufacturing solutions all over the world and look forward to continued success, growth & innovation in 2022.

John Cochrane

John Cochrane

General Manager - Facteon Group

John began his career as a Chemical Engineer. He has since worked across the globe, holding over 20 years’ experience in senior management. Having lived and worked in China for several years, John speaks conversational Mandarin and he has a keen interest in Chinese culture. Part of John's time in China was spent working with NZTE in a government role as Trade Commissioner. John also has a depth of experience in the area of predictive maintenance having helped manufacturers to optimise their operations through improving overall equipment effectiveness. John leads the Facteon Group in delivering the latest automation, Industry 4.0 and Industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions to factories across the globe.


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