Scottish MAS Conference 2016

SMAS 2016SMAS 2016

On Thursday 8th of September, I had the great pleasure of attending the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service conference in Cumbernauld. This conference invites the big players from all across the Scottish manufacturing world to discuss practical insights and share inspiration to ‘move Scotland’s manufacturing industry from where it is now, to where it needs to be’.


I was given the opportunity to give a 5-minute pitch about plastic pellet loss and Operation Clean Sweep in the conference ‘Fringe’ event. The conference was a great chance for me to contact new companies and touch base with a few OCS signees we already know well. 


Invited speakers were all interesting and motivational. It was great to see the buzz surrounding the Scottish manufacturing industry is alive and well and embracing future thinking, which includes emphasis on sustainable development; how it benefits both the environment and the companies themselves.

I attended an insightful workshop with the Scottish Institute for Remanufacture (SIR) and Zero Waste Scotland, discussing the need to focus on repair and reuse of existing materials in a move towards the circular economy. Cummins engineering explained how their global business has been based around remanufacture of diesel engines for the last 50 years, and how they are able to create products with ‘like-new’ and even improved specifications. As Dr Hamid Mughal of Rolls-Royce specified in his keynote speech – “We will not be able to throw anything away in the future”.

A significant focus of the work of SMAS and Scottish Enterprise has been to encourage companies to focus on continuous improvement and streamlining (LEAN) workflows, which includes striving for the elimination of waste from the supply chain. Representatives of companies that have achieved significant improvement by adopting these methods spoke of the need for standards as the first step towards improvement, and the importance of maintaining a continuous improvement culture in facilities. It is necessary to strive for perfection, but also appreciate that it is impossible to attain; there is always more that can be done.

It strikes me that the Operation Clean Sweep scheme for pellet loss prevention fits into this ethos perfectly, and has been designed with precisely these principles in mind:

  1. Operation Clean Sweep represents an opportunity to practice continuous improvement, and move the facility from achieving ‘pretty much zero’ pellet loss, on the road towards absolute zero.
  2. Much of this change requires a change of culture among all employees. Awareness of the issues surrounding pellet loss often leads to enthusiasm among staff to do something about it. After that, providing the tools and knowledge required to stop pellet loss is the easy part.
  3. Ensuring pellet loss is stopped is a vital part of any company’s move towards a circular economy. Before handling complex logistics of reuse or recycling, reducing existing resource waste should always be a priority (REDUCE, reuse, recycle).

So, as Jim Lawless of Taming Tigers so eloquently put it in the closing speech: “Head in the direction of where you want to arrive, every day.”

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Maddy Berg - Projects Officer

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