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Imagining Tomorrow
The Future of Manufacturing in a Changing World

Susie Dixon
27 Oct 2022

In the fifth of our Intelligent Industry: Journey to The Manufacturer events blog series, Susie Dixon explores the future of manufacturing in a changing world.

The world is changing. Of course, it has ever been thus. However right now, more than ever before, it feels that humanity is standing at a crossroads, grappling with the choice of path to take into the future.

There are many challenges that face us: climate change, energy, and depletion of natural resources, to name but a few. But the thing that defines us as a species, more than anything else, is the ability to view insurmountable issues as an opportunity. We excel at rising to the challenge and relish solving the unsolvable.

Throughout history, humans have inexhaustibly demonstrated that we are able to rapidly adapt our lives and processes in the pursuit of greatness. From the Pyramids to the Space Shuttle, the printing press to the smartphone, we have devised ever more ingenious ways to manufacture what was previously only a figment of the imagination.

William Blake, the 18th century British artist and poet (most famous for the poem Jerusalem, which was famously set to music by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916) was enraptured with the power of imagination. At the time he was living, the Enlightenment was in full swing, and the vogue of the time was for reason and logic primarily. Blake believed that imagination was the most important of the mental faculties and famously mused “that which has not yet been imagined cannot be built”.

The magnitude of the issues facing the world requires a huge injection of imagination. There are some exciting innovative technologies being developed, which will help us to address some of the greatest challenges we face. For example, recent research into fungal mycelial networks is enabling the development of new materials for packing, clothing and even building. It is incredible to imagine that fungus can be grown which is as hard as concrete – but imagine it someone did, and now it exists.

At Capgemini, we are committed to engineering and manufacturing in the context of a sustainable future. We highly value team diversity, which creates a dynamic environment for ideas to seed, grow and take off. Our 350,000 strong global team is always at the edge of innovative and creative thinking – and we are thinking big about how to solve the huge challenges facing ourselves, our clients, and our planet. We invest in imagination by giving our teams opportunities to be bold and try new things, supported by our strategic partnerships with technology leaders, the award-winning Capgemini Research Institute and start up alliances. This has created an ecosystem of innovation fuelled by entrepreneurial spirit.

One of the key elements of building an environment in which imagination is nurtured and encouraged is open sharing of thoughts, ideas, and visions of what could be. Here, leaders play a key role in mentoring new generations of engineers and manufacturers. The greatest gain from mentoring as an enabler to progression is when there is a two-way exchange of ideas, experiences, and thoughts. I had a lightbulb moment recently during a mentoring session with a Systems Engineer. We were discussing diversity in teams and how it can be leveraged to get better outcomes. I shared with him some research which concluded that including arts graduates in engineering teams could radically improve the team outcomes. He responded that he did an A Level in drama, and it taught him the value and importance of rehearsing and anticipating issues before they arise so that nothing ruined opening night. It is a mindset he has brought to his engineering and believes it has had a positive influence on the way he views preparation and execution of milestones. This blew my mind! Of course, it is so obvious! I will never think about risk management in quite the same way again.

So, now, the future of manufacturing is inextricably linked with the future and prosperity of humanity. The Young Manufacturers of today are the Manufacturing Leaders of tomorrow and to ensure we make the most of all the opportunities in front of us, we will need them to bring their enthusiasm, creativity, and passion to re-imagine all aspects of manufacturing. Their role is key to ensuring our collective futures are bright. So, while we stare into a future full of uncertainty and challenges, let us imagine what it should look like, and then use all our collective skills to make it happen.

To read more blogs in the Intelligent Industry: Journey to The Manufacturer events series, see quick links below:

Still flying high after Farnborough International Airshow 2022 – Mike Dwyer reflects on the successes of the Farnborough International Airshow and looks forward to what we have planned for The Manufacturer events in Liverpool on 16th and 17th November.

The challenges of adopting Industry 4.0 – Do you have the vision? – Graham Upton explores the challenges organisations face when adopting Industry 4.0.

Enabling the future of Manufacturing by focusing on people – George Hull shares his perspective on why the future of the Manufacturing sector is exciting but complex and explores the importance of focusing on people to champion best-in-class technology and processes.

Designing a sustainable future for the electrified automotive value chain – Billy Cavanagh highlights the major future issues for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and companies across the electric vehicle (EV) battery value chain, and what solutions they should proactively implement to mitigate their impact.

Susie Dixon

Project Director
I started out my career as an electronic engineer apprentice in the Royal Navy. During the 8 years I spent in uniform, I was lucky enough to travel the world and work with some of the most sophisticated and cutting-edge military equipment out there. Since leaving the Navy in 2006, I have been a Project and Programme Manager in the Defence industry, delivering complex military equipment projects for some of the biggest Defence companies in the world; including QinetiQ, Saab, and Lockheed Martin. I am delighted to have joined Capgemini Engineering UK, and to be a part of the magic of delivering our amazing technical solutions to our wide range of customers and partners. My focus is on wellbeing, inclusivity, and clear, transparent communications. When we have an engaged workforce with a clear goal the path is set for success!