Lakes Ice Cream, based in Kendal, makes 1.2m litres of ice cream each year and distributes all over the UK.
It has invested in data and system integration tools that link key business operations including order processing, manufacturing, stock control, sales, distribution and accounting.
The technology has replaced traditional manual, time-consuming and paper-based processes, sped up communications within the business, and freed the small team of 15 employees to focus on more high-value and skilled tasks, such as developing new recipes, flavours and products.
The investment is helping Lakes Ice Cream decarbonise by eliminating paper-based processes and activating delivery route optimisation which reduces fuel use.
Crucially, the investment has enabled the business, which has experienced a 40% increase in turnover, to keep up with demand and future-proof its plans to scale up the business.
Lakes Ice Cream was supported by Made Smarter’s North West Adoption programme, which helps SME manufacturers to adopt new technologies to increase productivity, achieve sustainable growth, and create new high value jobs.
James Stephens, Managing Director, said: “We are delighted with our experience of Made Smarter. From the first conversation they have supported our digital transformation, offered their expertise and given us that confidence in starting our digitalisation journey.
“The technology investment which was matched funded by Made Smarter, has had an incredible impact, making everything easier. It has made us excited for the next stage.
“What we have achieved so far really demonstrates the substantial benefits that digitalisation and integration make.
“We have a small team so time is extremely precious, so to squeeze more productivity wherever you can is fantastic. What’s more, our employees see these benefits as it allows them to learn new skills and enjoy their work more.”
Three years ago, after a quarter of a century as a family-owned business growing organically through sales in shops, supermarkets, hotels and food service wholesalers, Lakes Ice Cream began a new era under the ownership of Joanne and Robin Graham.
Beyond data and systems integration technologies, Lakes Ice Cream are also looking to invest in an automated packing machinery which is four times quicker than the current manual process. There are also ambitions to embed this technology in a new factory further down the line.
James added: “We want to take the business to the next level. That means a new factory and cold store, new automated machinery and new vehicles. At the heart of those changes will be a software system that integrates all aspects of our business and lays the foundations for scale.”
Donna Edwards, Director of Made Smarter’s North West Adoption, said: “The summer holidays are the perfect opportunity to celebrate the manufacturers of all the delicious ice-cream we will be enjoying.
“We are delighted to be supporting Lakes Ice Cream at the start of their journey to digitalise and decarbonise.
“It is a fantastic example of the impact that data and systems integration technology can have on a business to drive productivity, efficiency, sustainability and growth.
“Lakes Ice Cream are among hundreds of manufacturers in the region grasping the opportunities offered by Made Smarter which include expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help take that first step to transform a business, and support with technology investment. I would encourage other family-owned businesses and SME manufacturers to do the same.”