Since it was launched two years ago, the North West technology adoption pilot has engaged with 311 businesses in the county to help them introduce digital tools and technologies to boost productivity and growth, and navigate the impact of Covid-19.
147 manufacturers have received intensive support including expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps to transform their business, a leadership programme, and funded digital technology internships.
41 businesses have secured £1M matched funding for 48 projects which are worth £4.7M after private sector investment. These technology adoption projects are forecast to deliver an additional £32M in gross value added (GVA) for the Lancashire economy over the next three years, create 311 new jobs, and upskill 760 existing roles.
Some manufacturers are developing projects using technologies which enable them to integrate systems, capture and analyse data, and even create simulations of their plants and processes. Others are using 3D-printing, automation, and robotics to solve business challenges and meet increased demand.
Among the latest wave of manufacturers to secure funding for technology projects are: Daedalian Glass, (Poulton-le-Fylde); Eluceda (Burnley); Energy Ace (Chorley); Fairbrother & Grimshaw Engineering (Blackburn); and Tool Management Services (Accrington).
Matthew Harte, Managing Director of Eluceda, a detection technology business in Burnley, said: “With the support of Made Smarter, we have accelerated our development of a next generation solution to meet the demand for cheaper and simpler rapid testing and screening.
“Successful delivery of the project will have a significant transformational impact on the business, increasing revenues, accelerating growth, creating jobs and developing new markets.”
Gary Vizard, Managing Director at EnergyAce, a manufacturer of energy saving systems for commercial and domestic applications in Chorley, said: "With the support and advice of Made Smarter we have been able to adopt digital technology to improve data and systems integration. This will enable us to continue our growth trajectory with the confidence that all systems are aligned and the right KPIs are visible for all to see in order to react much quicker to potential issues and to manage the growth in a more sustainable manner.”
Meanwhile, some manufacturers who have already experienced the benefits of Made Smarter support, are now taking the next step in their digitalisation journey, including: Inscape Interiors (Chorley); Panaz (Burnley); Pendle Doors (Blackburn); The Protein Lab (Blackpool); and Nutree Life (Preston).
Paul Mills, Director at Inscape Interiors, a manufacturer of commercial cubicles, washrooms and fitted furniture, based in Chorley, said: "With the support and advice of Made Smarter we have been able to adopt digital technology to improve data and systems integration. This will enable us to enable all sources of relevant data within our business leading to better informed business decisions, the delivery of hyper-personalised customer service and the acceleration of automation and operational efficiencies through the development of an intelligent manufacturing ecosystem.”
Patrick Mroczak, Co-Founder and CEO, of Nutree Life, a food manufacturer based in Preston, said: "With the support and advice of Made Smarter we have been able to in invest in state-of-the-art automation and control technologies which have enabled us to cope with unprecedented demand for our products during coronavirus crisis, and lay the foundations for a network which captures the data for further analysis.”
Across the wider region the Made Smarter North West pilot has engaged with 1,131 businesses, giving 540 intensive support, and supporting 126 businesses with £3.2M matched funding for 155 projects. This investment is forecast to deliver an additional £118M in gross value added (GVA) for the region's economy over the next three years, create over 750 new jobs and upskill almost 1,600 existing roles. Over 80% of SMEs working with Made Smarter to adopt cutting-edge technologies have seen a boost in productivity, and more than 25% reduced their carbon emissions. Businesses will also benefit from increased revenue, profits and exports, and lower energy bills.
Juergen Maier CBE, Chair of Made Smarter, said: "I am delighted to see the positive impact that Made Smarter’s adoption pilot is having on individuals, businesses, the environment, and the UK economy. "In the tumultuous times we face, it can be tempting to simply cut costs rather than invest. Yet, in the long term, this approach runs the risk of businesses getting left behind. For the UK manufacturing sector to thrive and become a world leader, we need to ﬁnd ways to encourage innovation and the adoption of digital technologies.”
As well as technology, Made Smarter has supported manufacturers to develop digital strategies and new skills. Its digital transformation workshops are a rapid and bespoke process designed to accelerate manufacturing growth by identifying digital tools and technologies that can maximise operational processes and enhance business growth.
The Made Smarter Leadership programme, in partnership with Lancaster University and now also delivered by the University of Liverpool and Manchester Metropolitan University, are designed to equip business leaders with the vision and the skills to pursue smarter manufacturing. Manufacturers have also benefited from Made Smarter’s digital technology internships which offer students and graduates paid placements to work on live technology projects. Some have even secured jobs following their placement.
Donna Edwards, North West Pilot Programme Director at Made Smarter, said: “Over the last two years the pilot has proven the value technology can bring to the manufacturing sector. “We have helped hundreds of North West makers start their digital journey by providing them with specialist advice to help them select the right approach, level of investment and tools for their business.
“We have seen huge success with Made Smarter-supported businesses reporting growth, productivity and efficiency gains, job creation and high-value jobs. We’re also playing a crucial role in helping the UK reach its ambitious aim of net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050. “Reaching 155 funded projects which will support 126 businesses to create over 750 new jobs and upskill almost 1,600 existing roles is a tremendous achievement.
“We are determined to continue reaching out to the region’s SME manufacturers to connect them to the tools that will make an everyday difference to their businesses. I would encourage manufacturers to contact Made Smarter to ensure they don’t miss out.”