Mark Hughes, regional vice president, UK and Ireland at Epicor Software, discusses how connecting people and processes will set companies on the right route to yielding the benefits of the smart factory. When we talk about smart factories we are not only talking about the technology which lies within, but the immense value that it can bring to the people working under the factory roof – and beyond. Connected factories allow

organisations to dream big, but begin small, by investing in improving key processes first and realising the benefits and ROI before expanding the scope of the project. They enable humans and technology to work together – connected by the Internet of Things – to create more efficient, cost-effective business processes. In many respects, IoT is less about the ‘things’ themselves, and more about connecting people and processes in a multitude of ways to enhance knowledge and insight. Any form of digital transformation

project must have people at its heart if it is to succeed. Getting the latest equipment and technology is just the start – it’s what it can enable that is where the real benefits lie. There are many ways that smart

factories can help organisations serve their customers and employees better. For example, 40 percent of survey respondents[1] felt that smart, connected factories can help provide better experiences for the customers that are purchasing products. With greater visibility into

inventory and products on hand, companies can report back to customers more accurately when they can expect to receive their products, resulting in greater customer satisfaction. Smart factories can also help aid proactiveness with customers, identifying rather than reacting to potential problems within the factory or production line. Indeed, a third (32 percent) of respondents felt that smart, connected factories can help deliver better field service to their customers. With greater insights into plant or factory equipment performance, sensors and alerts can be set up to identify equipment that is underperforming. Field technicians can even get dispatched directly, based on data from faulty equipment, so there is no time wasted in processing service requests. Companies can now proactively address issues before they become crises. Whether it is employees learning

new skills to help them optimise processes, or consumers benefiting from the enhanced experience that IoT technologies can bring, smart and connected factories can help to foster an environment of innovation and development. Whether it’s a factory floor or

retail outlet, most industries have systems and processes that support the way they operate. These will involve specific equipment and assets – all of which can be monitored, maintained and optimised as part of the smart and connected factory, helping to drive business growth.

The discussion around the smart

factory is not just that data should be captured, but what to do with that data once you have it. The ability to analyse the data coming from machines or from various touchpoints around the factory so that it yields actionable insights is critical to making business improvements. It starts with connecting those ‘things’ on the shop floor. Three-quarters (74 percent) of those in the industry agree that smart and connected technologies can help improve and streamline internal company processes, from the shop floor, across the organisation to the top executive floor. Almost the same number (73 percent) felt strongly that data from connected machines and people will inform decision-making and reduce costs. This is due to the insights being revealed from IoT-linked machines around metrics such as performance, quality, and speed. Ultimately, for most companies the power of being connected is about optimising operations and improving efficiency, cutting costs and generating new revenue streams. Linking all of these is the desire to become a best-in-class company and improve customer satisfaction – a crucial differentiator for any business.

[1] The research was conducted by Morar Consulting on behalf of Epicor in December 2017. The research questioned 2,200 manufacturing business decision makers and employees in businesses in 14 countries across the globe


Formed three decades ago employing five people, Albion Valves (UK) has gone from strength to strength. Looking ahead, and as part of its growth strategy, the business has recently founded and invested in its export business, Albion Valves (International). With the specific focus on the Middle Eastern market, the company will boast a dedicated UAE-based sales

team and also forge new partnerships with distributors in the region to strengthen growth in response to the increasing building services demand. Due to its large stock holding in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, Albion Valves (International) is quickly becoming established as a reliable supplier for quality valves throughout the region. The new

company will also provide valves to Africa and Southern Asia. Albion Valves (International) has

also appointed two UK-based staff, one of which, Joshua Parkinson, has been employed as part of the Albion apprenticeship scheme. The other, Ryan Moore, has many years’ experience in the export market.


Martindale’s latest catalogue includes many new products and useful guides to finding the best tools and accessories for electrical safety, fault finding and certifying installations. It’s the essential reference for all electricians and maintenance personnel working on electrical equipment and installations, with simple solutions to stay safe and work smarter. The catalogue is organised

into 12 categories and includes information on safe isolation and useful selection tables for a range of test tools, making it easy to identify the best product for the job. New for this issue is the latest PDS and PDSX Series of proving units. Smaller, lighter and with new CALCHECK options for calibration checking test equipment, the PDSX proving units enable contractors and maintenance teams to safely and simply prove the operation of voltage indicators, two pole testers and test lamps, plus common 18th Edition tester functions. Also featured is the latest NC

Series of Non-Contact Testers, which enable quick and safe identification of live wiring and detection of magnetic fields in a range of applications. The latest range of advanced Socket Testers, as defined by the Health and Safety Executive, is also included, as is additional information on professional 18th Edition multifunction testers. To obtain your free copy of the

catalogue, please call 01923 441717 or visit the website:

“The original designer and manufacturer of coaxial valves with 60 years of experience”


Email: Web:

01908 067583 Email: We


High flow, high pressure, unique valve solutions for all standard and arduous Applications”.


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