Q: How did the idea for EEF’s Problem Solving Network come about?
A: Having spent eighteen months research talking to manufacturers who knew EEF, and others which had not had contact with us before, we identified that manufacturers are keen to share best practice and knowledge. Our wide ranging network of businesses up and down the UK means that we are ideally placed to facilitate this. An online Problem Solving Network combined with face to face problem solving was therefore identified as an effective way for EEF to support manufacturers, instantly linking them with companies and experts from across the UK.
Q: How does the Network function?
A: The EEF Problem Solving Network enables manufacturers to solve real business problems quickly using shared expertise. A business will post a question which describes a manufacturing problem it is facing and ask for help in solving it. Others who have previously tackled that problem then describe their solution, or what they’ve learned in looking for one. With multiple contributions, a great answer can usually be found.
The platform has two main areas to post questions - the manufacturing advice board for manufacturing discussions and a digital manufacturing board to help manufacturers develop their digital manufacturing capability, encompassing areas like:
- Smart Products - digitally connected products and services, product monitoring for proactive maintenance, autonomous vehicles
- Smart Factories – use of robotics, digital machines and processes, big data to be more flexible and productive
- Smart Supply chains - supply chain monitoring, automated sourcing, digital connection to supplier production equipment
Q: How does my company get involved in the Network and am I able to take a look without joining EEF first?
A: Any person involved in manufacturing can register on the Network and take part in the discussions and activity in our manufacturing advice and digital manufacturing boards. To register you can download the mobile app for Android and iPhone. Or alternatively follow the link: www.eef.org.uk/network
EEF members have access to the member only areas including the exclusive Brexit Board, and other face to face problem solving groups that meet regularly and have dedicated space on the Network.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone hoping to make best use of the network?
As with most things, the more you put in, the more you get out of the Network. Subscribe to boards that interest you so that you will be alerted when updates occur and download the app so that you can browse the Network on the move and receive push notifications on your mobile device. Also, add a picture to your profile, your interests and experience so that peers know more about you and your company.
Ask manufacturing questions to benefit from the collective knowledge of your manufacturing peers, and respond to other peoples questions so that they benefit from your knowledge and experience.