In Conversation With… Sid Shaikh

Sid Shaikh is Engineering R&D Manager at Ocado. He will present ‘The disruptive technologies behind Ocado’s retail success’ at 2pm on Tuesday 6 June. 

Please sum up your conference session in one sentence:

If you took a production line and scaled it to size of a several football pitches, what engineering challenges do you think you would face? 

What practical tips will visitors pick up from your presentation?

An insight into the future of the logistics industry and the challenges of designing, building and maintaining big automation and robotics projects.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the industry this year?

For me, the biggest challenge is the engineering skills gap in the UK. There is a growing shortage of experience for intermediate and senior level engineers in the industry. 

And the biggest opportunity?

The UK is a hub for engineering excellence, design and innovation. We have the potential to dramatically boost productivity and improve efficiency by using robotics across a wide range of industries.

Is leaving the EU good or bad for UK manufacturing?

It is very dependent on the strength of the pound but we will understand the true impact in the coming months and years. 

Do you think the industry will suffer if leaving the EU restricts free movement of labour?

Yes.

Do you think the Apprentice Levy is a good thing?

There is a feeling in the industry that the stipulation to spend at least 20% of the time on off-the-job training is too high and not aligned with modern blended learning practices.

If you were in Government, what would you do to encourage more women and young people to work in the engineering and manufacturing industries? 

I believe we should introduce engineering qualifications earlier in the education process, create targeted promotion and incentives for women and young people to take the Engineering GCSE, and create a culture that is more welcoming to new starters that are keen to learn.

What are your thoughts on Industry 4.0?

We are building the smart factories of the future; therefore, Industry 4.0 is core to our solution. There is a massive opportunity for companies combining robotics, AI, the cloud and IoT to become leaders in their respective industries and disrupt existing markets and business models.

What are you most looking forward to about Subcon 2017?

The conference is a chance to understand new and emerging trends and identify new suppliers that share our commitment to deliver innovative technologies and products for the retail sector.