Sharing knowledge creates more business for everyone
Large OEMs in Southeast Brabant, such as Thermo Fisher Scientific and ASML, have substantial growth ambitions. However, they cannot realise these without the innovative power of the supply industry. "Because our engineers can come up with and develop something conceptually... To really deliver a successful product to our customers, we desperately need the manufacturing knowledge of suppliers," says Jan Jaap Kuit, Vice President Mechanical Engineering at ASML. Sharing knowledge is the recipe for growth of the entire high-tech ecosystem.
Together with Maurits Smits, R&D & Site Manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific, Kuit kicked off the first edition of Manufacturing Technology Conference, 20 June 2023 in Veldhoven. The Knowledge Sharing Centre (KSC) is organising this together with Mikrocentrum with the aim of strengthening the exchange of knowledge between high-tech developers and the manufacturing industry.
In fact, knowledge sharing is still an underestimated phenomenon. Engineers and developers at OEMs do not always have sufficient knowledge of how things are made. This slows down the innovation cycle and leads to inefficiencies in supply chains. "If more knowledge is shared from engineering and production, it means an acceleration of the learning process for each party involved, finding each other more easily and thus ultimately more business," says Hans Meeske, managing director of Holland Innovative, who helped take the initiative to extend the KSC beyond ASML, where it originated eight years ago.
We want to be better supported in our acceleration” Maurits Smits, Thermo Fisher Scientific
Maurits Smits and Jan Jaap Kuit set out at the kick-off of the conference, which attracted more than 130 participants, why knowledge sharing is essential for the two OEMs. For Maurits Smits, it is clear: his mission is to double Thermo Fisher Scientific's turnover in Transmission Electron Microscopes in Eindhoven in the next five years. But rather than accelerating growth, he is currently noticing a slowdown as everyone struggles with the availability of materials and production hours. "The only way out is collaboration," Smits says. Accelerating cooperation in supply chains is the only solution to avoid Thermo Fisher being forced to leave the region. "We want to be better supported in our acceleration," he says. The ecosystem and supply chain play a crucial role in this.
My engineers think conceptually about design. But often have insufficient knowledge of the possibilities of making it”
Jaap Jan Kuit, ASML
This is no different at ASML. New applications such as ChatGPT and other forms of artificial intelligence can only be developed if the pace in the innovation cycle in the high-tech industry remains high. ASML needs to further develop semiconductor technology. "This requires strong collaboration between organisations with people who make it possible," said Jan Jaap Kuit. All the innovations they come up with require components and systems to be good, and preferably even better than the previous generation. "That requires new inventions. My engineers think conceptually about design. But often have insufficient knowledge of the possibilities to make it. To make it a success for our customers, we need the knowledge of companies that do know."
Sometimes you need knowledge you weren't looking for” Arno Sprengers, ASML
And that is what the Manufacturing Technology Conference is all about. This is where inventors and makers meet. MTC brings engineers from the design and manufacturing industries together to share knowledge. During the conference, manufacturing companies present themselves with their specific manufacturing technology, so that engineers from major OEMs can see what is possible in terms of manufacturability. For Arno Sprengers, who started the KSC eight years ago, this meeting between designers and makers is the essential part of the conference. "Because sometimes you need knowledge you weren't looking for. Techniques that are interesting but that you don't know exist. Knowledge transfer has to be good and focused, otherwise it won't work."
At the MTC, some 100 manufacturing companies will demonstrate their manufacturing technology and share knowledge. Jan Jaap Kuit: "It's really about bringing technologies together, learning from each other." Because only through this can engineers create a design that is manufacturable." And manufacturability, to him, goes beyond quality and performance. Manufacturing companies will also have to be able to offer production in volume if innovations are successful and demand grows.
That the first edition of MTC is taking place this year is because the time is ripe for a boost of knowledge sharing in the supply chain, adds Maurits Smits. "This is really important to get things done. Knowledge is the fuel for innovation. We ask our industrial partners not to reveal their secrets, but to share basic knowledge so that we can grow. Because if we grow, you grow."
The event where engineers and developers from the design and manufacturing industry come together to share knowledge on production techniques and manufacturabilityView event