Factories go digital to compete globally

The Ibec Medtech and Engineering group is calling on industry to seize the opportunities that are being presented by the latest disruptive technologies that are transforming manufacturing.

“New thinking in Enterprise Excellence: Manufacturing Conference” is a special event being held at today at The Galmont, Galway, that sees international senior business leaders from manufacturing and healthcare such as IBM Watson Health Imaging, Steven Tolle; Stryker Additive Manufacturing/3D Facility Cork, Mag O'Keeffe; and University Hospital Salamanca Spain Josť Aranda, set-out how new technologies are driving better innovation and competitiveness.

Seabrook Technology Group CEO and Manufacturing Conference Director Sean O'Sullivan said: “Ireland is a world leader in manufacturing and already boasts more than 4,000 businesses which employ more than 230,000 and accounts for nearly a quarter of Ireland’s economic output. In Ireland the proportion of workers in high-tech manufacturing sectors is already three times the EU15 average and twice that of any other advanced manufacturing countries, including Germany.

“Output per hour worked in Ireland is now amongst the highest of any country globally. For every worker it took to manufacture a unit of output in Irish factories in 1998 it only took 0.2 of a worker by 2016, outperforming the US at 0.6. But as broader Irish competitiveness starts to falter, now is the time to invest in strategic sectors such as advanced manufacturing to build on this manufacturing success and ensure sustainable growth.”

Irish Medtech Association Senior Executive Adrienne McDonnell said: “Creating ‘smart factories’ with people-centred operations will support new ways of delivering manufacturing innovation that lead to better patient outcomes. Along with 3D printing and data analytics, one of the major disruptors is personalised care with the use of AI and robotic surgery revolutionising modern healthcare.

“With as many as 4,000 surgical robots across the world’s hospitals and 54% of global healthcare executives predicting that AI will be used in medical decision support in the next few years there is an opportunity to build on this and be at the vanguard of connected health. We’re excited to have leading R&D and clinical experts discuss the implications for manufacturers and patients at the conference.”

Irish Medtech Association Chairman and Stryker Neuro, Spine, ENT & Navigation VP R&D David Tallon, said: “We’re delighted to bring together key manufacturing sectors from polymer technology and biopharma, to ICT and medtech to discuss new ways to do manufacturing during European MedTech Week, 4-8 June. In Irish Medtech it’s our vision to make Ireland a global leader in innovative patient-centred medtech products and solutions; to achieve this facilitating cross-sector convergence is essential.

"The FDI manufacturing sector here currently spends an estimated €771 million on R&D annually, but more needs to be done to help companies to increase the level of sophistication and complexity of their R&D activities, and expand their mandate to include R&D ownership for complete market segments and global product portfolios. Government must ensure that the Knowledge Development Box reflects how R&D in the medtech sector improves and develops new products, as well as encourage the uptake of the R&D tax credit.”