HotSeat – Nick Parker, Managing Director at db-automation

DB-Automation specialises in designing and building bespoke high-speed injection moulding automation. In 2018, the company became part of the PCE GROUP of Companies. Managing Director Nick Parker (left) has been with DB-Automation for almost 9 years, and has been working in automation for 23 years, following a time-served apprenticeship at the start of his career. He is the next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat…

What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics?  How will db-automation respond?

Greater levels of intelligence for the equipment we provide is already a hot topic.  The ‘buzz’ words surround us all.  Being able to provide machinery with the ability to provide feedback that is both useful and actionable is becoming more and more important.

Although still in its infancy the concept for measuring data and displaying this in a format that allows for action is being displayed in many areas of the plastics industry.  As confidence and interest in this grows so must we. Looking at methods for alerting to possible future downtime of machinery is key and structured preventative maintenance driven by actual data from components is going to important to most production environments.

Our machines are becoming smarter, the data provided to users through the machine interfaces is telling them more and the efficiency of each of our systems is increasing as a result.

How has db-automation developed during your tenure?

Although still in the early days for me in this position we have already seen a significant growth in orders both for automation systems and feeder equipment.  But the most poignant development that has been clear is the commitment and drive within all the team.  The excitement throughout the growing team is clear; the common objective for providing excellence is at the heart of every person.

The injection on passion and drive following the PCE acquisition last year has sparked the appetite for growing success within the business and never before have I seen a more united team all pulling together for the common belief. The team continues to grow and as we enter the next phase for db-automation we look forward to landmark changes coming soon and the ability to further establish our position as dependable, quality automation partners.

Ask me this again in 12 months, and the list will be endless!

What do you credit as the key to your success?

I have never considered personal success, more importantly to me has always been the success of the business as without that the personal success this is empty.

db’s success has always been related to ensuring no corners are cut, and the systems that we produce are designed and built to last.  Dependability within our machinery has been proven to develop strong relationships with clients, which has in turn see many return over the years for further products and development..

This cannot be achieved without the vision and tenacity of db’s workforce.  If we were to complete the equation for db’s success over the years, the significant multiplier will always be them.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

Throughout the positions I have held the most difficult hurdle to overcome, has always been negativity.  Inherently I am a positive person with an optimistic outlook. Being surrounded by negativity and pessimism for me is draining, it drags me down and I feel it affects my performance.  For too many people negativity is their default position, never seeing or considering the opportunities in a situation is for them easier than the alternative.

In my experience negativity is infectious and over time it will draw the energy and passion from the best of teams.  Having seen this first-hand the challenge was to reverse those effects of negativity and instil, firstly in myself the confidence to challenge those feelings and thoughts and find the alternative path.  In time it is my belief that this transfer to those around you. Creating positivity leads to a positive workplace and workforce.

What advice do you wish you’d had on entering the industry and does that differ from the advice you would give to an apprentice joining now?

In hindsight, to have known when I started that 25 years down the line the skill shortage for quality engineers would still be the single most challenging issue to overcome would have been significant.

The closure of many training schools and dedicated engineering facilities in the early days of my career has never been fully reversed and the effects of this on the industry has seen a significant aging workforce with exceptional skills. Younger generations are not seeking this skillset, which is why we now struggle to find the right people for the job, with the right mindset.

Many initiatives have been tested and many ‘pots’ of money have been thrown at it over the years but very few have focused on the fundamental core skills of using your hands in an engineering function, without the skill for using the tools the theory is somewhat difficult to apply.

I feel more recently that this has been recognised, training providers offering apprenticeships. We have been fortunate to find some outstanding candidates for our apprenticeship programme.  It is essential in our industry to develop the skills of the younger workforce, nurture their talents and capture their excitement for what we do.

I would hope that this advice is not what I should be passing onto the engineers of tomorrow, as if it is we continue to fail!

What hidden talents do you have?

I’m a fairly transparent person so hiding talents is not my strong point.  I prefer to view talents as skills learnt and developed and for these I am thankful for both the good and bad influences in my career.

My desire to see continued success for db allows me to apply these skills and draw from new experiences in order to learn new ones.

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