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The importance of innovation

02 July 2014

Addressing the recent Advances in Machining conference, Mark Ridgway OBE, president of the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA), focused on the role that innovation can play in stabilising a business in volatile markets. He emphasised the importance of innovation in manufacturing but said the take up of this message has been surprisingly slow, quoting regional and national figures on the relatively poor innovation performance of SMEs.

Mark Ridgway said: "It is important that we not only seek to develop new technologies that better serve the existing needs of manufacturers but that we learn how to identify needs that customers may not realise they have today.” 

The Advances in Machining conference was held on 24 June, the first day of the Global Manufacturing Festival organised by the AMRC Sheffield. In his speech Mark Ridgway stressed that innovation rarely comes as a lightening flash and more normally evolves over time. Referring to the machine tool and machining sector Mark emphasised that the industry offers great opportunity to shape the environment around it and be a true technological leader. He added: "What we can put inside the head of the customer is more important than that which we can put inside a box. Identify the need and the technology will follow.”


Mark concluded by highlighting the importance of ‘connectivity and open innovation’ in identifying needs that will form the basis of the innovation process. He said that product innovation becomes much more difficult when separated from the manufacturing process and welcomed the recent trend towards re-shoring manufacturing in the UK.