When Manufacturing Wales was established last year as the independent voice of manufacturing in Wales, Andrew Evans, Senior Compliance & Commercial Director of SPTS Technologies, a KLA company, was delighted to become a board member.
A passionate advocate for collaboration across the diverse manufacturing landscape here in Wales, Andrew shares his thoughts on why he was so keen to become part of this membership community – and how Manufacturing Wales is already helping businesses of all sizes improve what they do and how they do it …..
“It’s time for manufacturing in Wales to be seen and heard”
“In some ways, SPTS Technologies has been typical of many successful Welsh manufacturing businesses. We’ve been busy building a global business here in Newport for almost 40 years, keeping ourselves to ourselves. We’re a large multi-national business and industry leader, making the building blocks of technology that are integral to the daily life of billions of people on the planet – but very few people know us, even here in Wales. We’ve managed to be a key driver of the latest innovations across telecoms, medical devices and the automotive industry, able to help put three airbag sensors on a pinhead and 14 billion transistors on a thumb nail – yet we remain relatively unknown even to local people. As a CBI Council Member for Wales I already understood the need for connecting businesses across the supply chain and sharing knowledge for mutual win-wins. Now, more than ever, it’s time for Welsh manufacturing to be seen and heard in the local and global arenas. That’s why I was delighted for SPTS to become part of Manufacturing Wales – and I’m already seeing how it benefits the companies who have joined.
“I’m already seeing how this community is benefitting the companies who have joined”
“It continually astonishes me how many successful manufacturing operations we have here in Wales – and how little we really know about each other and how we could potentially help each other. When we first joined Manufacturing Wales I found myself in conversation with Penderyn and realised just how much we could learn from each other, even though one business is in whisky and the other is in tech. The pandemic really brought this home – encouraging us to share best practice in what we were doing to manage the situation; with that shared knowledge allowing us to take proven best practices and concentrate our own energies on what we do best.
“Enjoying those conversations that make you stop and think and realise how you can improve what you do”
“The knowledge share has been very valuable – and so has the supply chain connections too. I’ve been at SPTS Technologies for 14 years and we have a source locally policy. Recently I went to an event where I met two established manufacturing companies for the very first time, who arenow part of our supply chain. It’s that kind of genuine networking that can make all the difference to any business – and on a human level, I’ve taken so much from conversations with other manufacturers in this community: those little comments and observations that make you stop and think and realise how you can improve what you’re doing.
“We can’t build manufacturing in Wales if the manufacturing people in Wales don’t talk”
“We can’t build manufacturing in Wales if the manufacturing people in Wales don’t talk to each other. Breaking out of our silos is simply critical, whatever the size of your business. So for me the future is all about collaboration – whether it’s multi-national or local, with a South Wales university or another Welsh company in the compound semiconductor cluster. Five years ago I never spoke to anyone at Newport Wafer Fab. We’re not competitors, and quite the contrary – we’re complementary companies. And now we talk, and I know more about how Sam Evans and the team are leading the fourth industrial revolution.
“We can all learn from each other”
“We can all learn from each other. Why shouldn’t I offer some advice on international markets to a small SME, given that SPTS Technologies exports over 98% of what we manufacture in Newport? Why wouldn’t I share our Brexit experience with everyone in the manufacturing community? And why shouldn’t we be working together rather insolation or worst against each other to solve the talent pipeline challenge we all face? We have around 20 active STEM ambassadors in our company, and do a lot of outreach work in schools to help develop our future workforce. Sometimes we do have to go to other places in the world to recruit incredibly scarce skills. That means we have learned valuable lessons that everyone in Manufacturing Wales can benefit from – and we can learn from everyone else in this incredibly important collaborative community, whether it’s about talent acquisition, decarbonisation or supply chain efficiencies.
“My message is clear – join us and benefit from our forums and roundtables, our advice and support, our knowledge share and the joint opportunities that come from being part of a network that’s putting manufacturing in Wales on the world map.”