Friday, 25 October 2013

Visit by Taoiseach on Engineering Manufacturing was Best Ever EGA Event

The EGA Autumn Panel Discussion which was led by An Taoiseach has been hailed by many senior engineers as the 'best ever EGA event'. There is no doubt that it was one of the most extraordinary Engineering events I witnessed in my lifetime. That coupled with the iconic Engineers Ireland Annual Conference in the new Titanic building in Belfast at the 2012 Titanic Centenary.  
An Taoiseach is greeted on arrival by EGA President PJ Rudden, UCD President, Dr. Hugh Brady and UCD Dean of Engineering,  Professor Gerry Byrne

We witnessed such a unique combination of Innovation Design Manufacture and Marketing experience and plain sensible savvy laid out so graphically for a Head of Government. We saw an Taoiseach take such copious notes that he was able to respond point by point to the 4 Panel Speakers. It was real democracy in action before our eyes and tremendous performances by both the Taoiseach and by our Panel in their interaction.

The 'warm up' act before the Taoiseach's arrival was filled at short notice by UCD Engineering Vice Principal for Research and Innovation Professor Tony Fegan. He described in some detail the UCD Research effort concentrating on the diverse number of 'spin out' companies like BiancaMed, APC and others.

UCD Engineering Vice President for Research and Innovation Professor Tony Fegan
The Taoiseach arrived in good form after Leaders Questions in the Dail and wasn't long telling me that he wanted to see some 'action points' out of the Panel Discussion. I promised him that he would not be disappointed and I don't now believe he was. He himself left with his own very clear list of Action Points following the extended Debate.  

EGA President PJ Rudden, Prof. Gerry Byrne, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Dr. Hugh Brady Dean of Engineering
I welcomed him as a Taoiseach who was finally leading us back to be masters of our own destiny as a people. Engineering Manufacturing was leading the national recovery through the export of our food, biomedical, pharma, ICT and other engineering products. Indigenous manufacturing represented some 50% of total manufacturing in Ireland - a little known fact when all the media emphasis is on FDI manufacturing which is also an essential but not the only ingredient in our industrial mix.

'This Government's top priority is jobs' the Taoiseach said in his speech 'a strong manufacturing sector is essential to growing our exports to sustain and create jobs in innovative, home-grown businesses as well as in foreign companies who locate in Ireland'.

The Panel Speakers, four leading manufacturing entrepreneurs from the four corners of Ireland then gave their presentations.

An Taoiseach with the panel of speakers L ro R: Philip O'Doherty, E&I Engineering, Martin Mc Vicar, Combilift,  Edmond Harty, Dairmaster and Ian Quinn Creganna Taxtc Medical
Ian Quinn in his presentation called for a stable environment to allow manufacturing which has a future in Ireland. Short term jobs will come from small indigenous businesses. Long term jobs will come from innovative Irish enterprises'
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny listens intently to Ian Quinn
'Manufacturing is sustainable in Ireland' said Martin McVicar 'it is better to be a big company in a small niche market than a small company in a big market. There needs to be a close link between R&D and Sales/Marketing and we have a relatively short time to market'. Manufacturing long load and specialised forklifts, he has grown employment from 160 in 2009 to 275 in 2013 and hopes to grow to 400+ by 2018.

Philip O'Doherty is in the electrical switchgear export business from Donegal has 475 staff in Ireland and 220 staff in Dubai. He promoted lean manufacturing and working with the education sector to produce highly skilled employees including showing local schools around his factory.

Edmond Harty employs over 300 staff making automatic milking machines. 'Innovation is the key' he said 'we are about making dairy farming more profitable, more enjoyable and more sustainable. Universities should be demonstrating the value and validating the performance of products. This would help exports. I can't get the people with the right skills in Ireland'.

Full attendance for Panel Discussion in Clinton Auditorium

A number of the speakers spoke of the support to FDI companies whereas there should be more State supports for indigenous Irish firms.

UCD Dean of Engineering Gerry Byrne then gave the Response to the Panel Discussion and spoke of the need to internationalise manufacturing education and practice calling the new cyber world the 'Internet of Things'. This was akin to the 4th generation industrial revolution which is now creating transformational in the way we manufacture and go about our business. Colleges like UCD are adapting to these new challenges and will continue to do this. Gerry was recently Chairman of the Irish Academy of Engineering national report on 'The Future of Manufacturing in Ireland' which he presented to the Taoiseach.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny listening to Professor Gerry Byrne's response to Panel Discussion
All through this the Taoiseach took extensive notes and then gave an unscheduled but very welcome and detailed response to what had been said. 'You four people represent the future of manufacturing and you have direct access now to the Head of Government. We hear what you are saying and we will investigate and act further if it creates new jobs for our people. I want to ensure jointed up Government thinking to ensure that we are acting correctly and efficiently. The Government through our Action Plan for Jobs will continue to support measures that will capitalise on our advantages - our people, our proximity to key markets and our pro-business policies.'
An Taoiseach wishing to reply in detail to the Panel Discussion

Taoiseach responds to Panel Discussion
 There was a very full and appreciative audience at the event including the Chairman of Enterprise Ireland Terence O'Rourke and its Director of Cleantech Industry and Global Markets Tom Kelly whose efforts were praised by a number of the Panel Speakers. The audience had many questions about industrial policy to which members of the panel replied.

At the UCD Panel Discussion were Professor Gerry Byrne,
Chairman of Enterprise Ireland Terence O'Rourke, PJ Rudden and Dr. Liam Connellan

Feedback on email, Twitter and Facebook concerning the event has been most positive and also personally by many who attended and thought it a most entertaining and inspiring event. I'm sure that the Taoiseach will bring his first hand knowledge to the relevant Ministers and what he learned to bear at many future educational and job creation events he will attend.

Thanks to UCD President Hugh Brady, Professor Gerry Byrne, Michael Redmond Buildings Officer, EGA Administrator Clare Davidson and security officers for permission and assistance in making the event such a unqualified success in the view of those who attended.

EGA President PJ Rudden with UCD Engineering Graduates at the Panel Discussion

Friday, 4 October 2013

"Manufacturing is a key part of the Governments Action Plan for jobs and is a driving force behind Ireland's economic growth" says Taoiseach

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD will lead the UCD Engineering Graduates Association Autumn Panel Discussion on Manufacturing on October 22nd next starting at 6pm in the Clinton Auditorium Belfield (beside Engineering Building). Manufacturing is very topical at present. What is not generally known is that indigenous firms produce about 50% of total Manufacturing in Ireland; the balance produced by foreign direct investment (FDI) firms from abroad who are also very welcome to Ireland.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, EGA President PJ Rudden and UCD President, DR. Hugh Brady at the centenary of the old UCD Engineering building (now the Taoiseach's office) 

The Taoiseach will be greeted on arrival by UCD President, Dr Hugh Brady, Dean of Engineering, Professor Gerry Byrne and myself. The Taoiseach will meet our distinguished Panel of Speakers from around Ireland - Ian Quinn of Creganna-Tactx Medical, Galway, Martin McVicar, Combilift, Clontibret Monaghan, Philip O'Doherty, E&I Engineering, Burnfoot, Donegal and Edmond Harty, Dairymaster Causeway, Co Kerry - who will tell their story of economic development and job creation - all from small beginnings each to national and international success stories.

Who would have thought that a small start-up company in North Kerry would be manufacturing and exporting 500 automatic milking machine installations in modular radial shape to farmers in China each year?

And hands up who knows what the function of the Dairymaster Moo Monitor is? Well, if you want to know, you will have to attend the Panel Discussion on October 22nd at 6pm.

I first came across this firm at an Engineers Ireland regional meeting in Tralee IT, some 2 years ago and have since marvelled ever since at their achievements. It was no surprise to me when Dr. Edmond Harty won the 2012 E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year.

The four speakers represent the biomedical, transport, electrical and agri-food engineering industries respectively. Our manufacturing output grew in early 2013 and already represents about a quarter of our GDP, according to the World Bank. Most of the markets for our products are international to the BRIC developing countries especially China and to Europe also.

Dr. Edmond Harty, Dairymaster
Philip O'Doherty, E&I Engineering
Ian Quinn, Creganna Tactx Medical

Martin McVicar, Combilift
All of our four speakers are leading global players in their niche areas and have been assisted in their development by Enterprise Ireland. Two of our speakers are winners of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Martin McVicar and Edmond Harty. Ian Quinn is Ireland's leading indigenous manufacturer of biomedical products employing some 800 people and Philip O'Doherty employs some 675 people making electrical products on Malin Head Co Donegal.

As I've stated in many other fora, engineering graduates of UCD and other colleges are leading the national economic recovery in manufacturing exports - both indigenous and FDI companies. To grow our way out of recession we need more of both type companies producing products and services out of Ireland.

The foundation of a successful manufacturing nation is our educational system. We need to build more of an entrepreneurial class of innovators who can challenge leading national and international brands in the same way as Coca Cola, VW, Siemens and others who have become household names. In this regard the German model of industrial training needs serious appraisal and adoption in Ireland.

Richness in education and economic planning leads to Innovation, Enterprise and Jobs. I'm delighted to see that the Department of Finance under Secretary General John Moran, is leading a new generation of national economic planning similar to the early exercises 50 years ago. That exercise together with the necessary structural reforms in education and training will see us ready as a nation to adopt innovative and competitive methods of manufacture as the Irish economy recovers to steady growth and employment levels.

This promises to be an interesting and exciting evening in over 2 weeks time. All are welcome regardless of profession or occupational status as job creation in Ireland must be a shared experience of all our people.

Medical Stent