Robert Cowan

Manufacturing Lead Consultant

I started out in Manufacturing over 40 years ago with Rolls-Royce at their compressor component manufacturing facility at Hillington, near Glasgow. In my 12 years with Rolls-Royce, I completed a Technical Apprenticeship in Metallurgy and worked as a process Metallurgist covering forging and metal spraying. During that time I studied part-time to achieve an HNC in Metallurgy, a degree in Metals and Materials and a Diploma in Industrial Management.

From there, I worked as a process engineer at Wilson Sporting Goods manufacturing plant in Irvine. This involved providing engineering support for vibratory finishing, plating and assembly processes and also leading various capital expenditure projects. I then moved into my first Managerial positions - Quality Manager before becoming a Business Unit Manager.

I then worked as Area Manager (Scotland and Northern Ireland) for an accredited Third Party Certification Body who assessed companies Quality Management Systems against the requirements of ISO9000. I obtained ISO9000 and AS9100 lead assessor status during this period.

I spent the next 10 years working at Allied Distillers at their integrated Manufacturing facility in Dumbarton employing over 800 at peak times. I held a number of roles in my time within the spirits industry – Project Manager, Quality Manager, Manufacturing Manager, Continuous Improvement Manager and Business Planning Manager.

I then took a post at the newly formed Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS). For my first 4 years there I worked as a Practitioner leading improvement projects within various Manufacturing Companies, using Improvement Techniques such as Lean and Six Sigma. I then became Lead Practitioner for the SMAS West Regional Team. I led a team of 8 practitioners who would deliver around £11m of Value Add per annum, through improvement projects within Manufacturing Companies. More recently SMAS had focused on how Industry 4.0 new and emerging technologies, can add value to Manufacturing companies. In my time with SMAS I also attained a Diploma in Executive Coaching.

I am now Manufacturing Lead with Waterstons and look forward to working with Manufacturing companies to achieve Value Add through Data Management and Digital Manufacturing approaches.

Away from work I enjoy travelling, gardening and keeping fit. Also a bit of a football fanatic – still manage to play regular 5-asides, watch as much TV football as I can and season ticket holder at Somerset Park (Ayr United, but I’m sure you knew that).

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