“We’re a specialist automation company and we’ve got some unique training challenges, and because the Sligo Chamber Skillnet courses are adaptable and flexible, it helps prepare the business for the future.”
Kenny Ward, Business Development Manager, Ward Automation
The Challenge – Adapting to a fast pace of technological change in the automation and robotics industry
Ward Automation is a leading manufacturer of world-class bespoke automation solutions for the medical device, pharmaceutical and high-end manufacturing industries, based out of Sligo. They are renowned for delivering innovative, high-quality automation equipment and robotic machine solutions for multinational customers worldwide.
Kenny Ward, the company’s Business Development Manager, explains: “We design and build automated assembly systems and robotic systems for the world’s leading medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies. So in our industry, technology is constantly changing, that includes the latest robotics, artificial intelligence-enabled systems, and Industry 4.0. Implementing these new technologies is critical to the success of the business.”
Ward Automation’s HR Assistant Deirdre Dolan also spoke of the challenges faced by a company that operates in such a fast-paced environment: “Automation is a constantly evolving industry. We need to ensure that we’re ready to adapt to changes in both technological advancements and customer requirements.”
Deirdre’s ambition to keep up to speed with technological innovation was shared by Benny Lang, the company’s Quality Manager, who said: “It’s critical for Ward Automation to stay ahead of the technological advances, so to be able to do that we need to stay ahead of new technologies and new innovations.”
“All companies are struggling with labour shortages at the minute, so any programme that can help improve productivity would be very important,” said Business Development Manager Kenny Ward.
The Solution – Advanced employee training and systems development
Ward Automation went to Sligo Chamber Skillnet for support with workforce development and upskilling.
“We’ve worked very closely in Sligo Chamber Skillnet with Ward Automation. Our Skillnet Manager has engaged very closely with the business here in Ward Automation to understand exactly what their needs have been.” – said Conor McCarthy, President, Sligo Chamber of Commerce.
Sligo Chamber Skillnet focused on providing modern learning and development opportunities so that Ward Automation was able to build out the skills capabilities it needs to continue to thrive in its field.
Business Development Manager Kenny adds: “What we do is work closely with Skillnet and the suppliers to identify and implement training plans, which can get our people up to speed and so that we can implement these technologies on our machines which essentially means that the machines are more reliable, cutting edge and high quality for our customers.”
One of the largest programmes that Ward Automation engaged in was the Enterprise Resource Programme, where 35 people were upskilled in a specific, business-critical area.
A systems expert was brought in to help Ward Automation develop a system for the needs of the company. This was followed up by training for all staff in the company.
“We’ve been working with Sligo Skillnet from approximately 2015 and over the years we’ve gradually grown the relationship as more and more training courses have been identified.” – said Kenny.
Impact – Boosting employee competence and confidence
Through collaboration with Sligo Chamber Skillnet, Ward Automation were able to tap into the experience of industry leaders. According to Business Development Manager Kenny, this: “has resulted in the staff being upskilled, improving their confidence, and essentially providing a better service to our end customers.”
Sligo Chamber of Commerce President Conor said that: “Through engaging in over 15 different programmes with Sligo Chamber Skillnet, Ward Automation have been able to upskill right across their organisation.”
HR Assistant Deirdre Dolan added: “The training that myself and my colleagues have undertaken has ensured that we are investing in our people and putting our best foot forward.”
Looking to the future – Maintaining success in a rapidly advancing industry
The upskilling solutions provided by Sligo Chamber Skillnet to Ward Automation will help the company deal with the challenges that lie ahead.
Kenny Ward said: “We’re a specialist automation company and we’ve got some unique training challenges, and because the Sligo Chamber Skillnet courses are adaptable and flexible, it helps prepare the business for the future.”
Satisfaction among employees and staff retention was also improved following the collaboration.
“We would highly recommend that companies get involved in the Skillnet training programme and it helps upskill your staff and aids with staff retention.” – Kenny Ward, Business Development Manager, Ward Automation.
Learn more about Sligo Chamber Skillnet.