Managing director of Mollart Engineering, Guy Mollart, is now president of the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA), having taken over from Mark Ridgway, OBE DL, managing director of Group Rhodes.

The MTA represents suppliers and manufacturers of manufacturing technology, taking in metalcutting machine tools, cutting tools, workholding, 3D printing, composites, additive manufacturing, engineering lasers, grinding machinery, robotics, abrasives, surface finishing, component cleaning and software such as CADCAM, together with a growing number of UK contract manufacturing companies and large OEMs. Going back to 1912 with roots in the UK's machine tool makers, the association today has a broader focus representing £1.6 billion of sales.

The new president's company, Mollart Engineering, takes in three of the MTA's represented areas of activity, in fact: the manufacture of machine tools, deep hole drilling machines, plus special machines; cutting tools, taking in the Botek range of deep hole tooling, as well as its own Bencere range; and contract machining (www.machinery.co.uk/39328). Collectively, these activities are spread across the company's Chessington, Surrey, headquarters and its Resolven, Neath, Wales, operation, generating £20 million and employing 153.

But while MTA members will be very familiar with the association and its activities, users of manufacturing technology may only know it through the biennial MACH exhibition (11-15 April 2016 – www.machexhibition.com), which the MTA organises and runs in association with its members.

Mollart admits that MACH is, and will remain, a key focus for the organisation, but adds that under his stewardship the MTA will focus on becoming more outward looking and communicative.

"There is a lot of attention given to MACH, which is right since it has evolved to become the première UK manufacturing event, but the MTA will now be raising its profile with manufacturing technology users via the press in the coming months."

On a more personal note, he adds this: "I have been around this industry, which I love, for 34 years, and managing director of Mollart for 30. I've taken an awful lot from the industry in that time and I want to give something back.

"I feel that I am well qualified to be the next president of the MTA. I have a sizeable subcontract and cutting tool business, in addition to being a machine tool maker. I understand the perspectives of three of the areas that the MTA takes in and demonstrably represent the wider breadth of the association. My company is also an active exporter, generating more than 60% of its earnings from overseas, which makes Mollart Engineering close to the much-lauded, family owned, German small- and medium-sized enterprises (Mittelstand) of 63%."

The new president is keen to point up the fact that MTA membership is now running at 306 – a level not reached for some years, and says he wants to continue with this expansion. For prospective members there are five key reasons to belong: MACH exhibition benefits; marketing; representation with government, local government and research organisations like the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, plus overseas exhibitions/trade events support; networking; and skills –
"the biggest issue facing manufacturing and engineering."

Mollart gives his particular priorities as association governance and networking. On governance, the way the association works, the board has a wealth of experience for him to call upon to support the implementation of his ideas. This has already seen him task MTA board members with championing specific areas. Representatives from some of the most respected manufacturing technology companies operating within the UK, such as Citizen Machinery, Holroyd PTG, Yamazaki Mazak, Kyal Machine Tools and Heller UK, will support the president and MTA CEO James Selka DL and his team.

In acknowledging his predecessor's strengths and successes, immediate past president Mark Ridgway will have a public affairs remit, operating in an ambassadorial role, continuing his successful networking at government and local government level. "Mark has raised our profile immeasurably with government, particularly Local Enterprise Partnerships and on matters of regional funding and training," underlines Mollart.

MEET AND GREET
Of the new president's other focus, he says: "Networking is, I believe, the reason why you become a member of a trade association. The exchange of ideas, knowledge and views is what business is about. We are all captains of industry and well capable, we think, of running our business on a day-to-day basis, but are we particularly good in knowing what our businesses should be doing in five or 10 years' time? I am not sure that I do, but I should.

"We have two premiere events: MACH and the MTA Annual Dinner and Awards, and I want to plan a much more aggressive calendar that has many more events, taking in meetings that will include 'visionary days' on such things as factories of the future, the internet of things and lean production. That's the sort of thing I feed off, so others must too. Social events will also be part of this expansion as well. While these are MTA events, invitations to prospective members will be extended. That calendar will be finalised shortly and it is my intention to attend as many of those events as possible in my two-year tenure.

"I want to listen to what people have to say about the association and our events, including MACH, with a view to making them more relevant to more companies."

The MTA is clearly in evolutionary mode. Machine tool technology, its sale and use, will remain central, but some of its operating parameters, set when there was a substantial UK machine tool manufacturing membership, are up for tweaking. Some of this, it is hinted, may relate to trust funds established by the likes of Sir Alfred Herbert, a machine tool industry giant – the company and the man – of bygone days. There, a loosening of the rules for disbursement would allow training and education relevant to today's industrial circumstances to be better supported.

Underlines Mollart: "Education plus training and skills are the biggest issues that we face as an association and if we cannot address that properly as an organisation, do I need to say more?"

He speaks with some authority on this matter too. His company has apprentices undergoing training in Chessington and also in Wales, ploughing £100,000 per head into this across a three-year programme. Currently that means 18 people – 12% of the workforce – with, additionally, four graduates and others undertaking work experience. Yet another dimension to the listening president who will be able to engage on equal terms with a broad range of industry concerns.

And with a common interest, understanding and close involvement in manufacturing between the new president and MTA CEO Selka, Mollart foresees a strengthened, proactive voice for the MTA, with it delivering improved service and value to a growing association membership.

First published in Machinery, May 2015