Launched in 2019, the Made Smarter Adoption programme in the North West has now supported 161 businesses with £3.9M matched funding for 201 projects, leveraging £10.5M of private sector investment.
Some manufacturers are developing projects using emerging 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.
This transformative technology adoption is forecast to create 990 new jobs, upskill 1,845 existing roles, and deliver an additional £162.4M in gross value added (GVA) for the North West economy.
Among the latest businesses to secure support from the government funded and industry-led programme is Briggs Automotive Company (BAC), a supercar manufacturer based in Liverpool which is adopting technology to drive data and systems integration throughout the company.
Neill Briggs, Co-founder of BAC, said: "In a world where remote working is becoming more and more prominent, being connected across the business is becoming more and more important and we are looking forward to tackling this challenge head on and evolving off the back of it. This investment will accelerate our business goals to grow and create new jobs and upskill our current workforce."
Others to secure support include: Extronics (Middlewich); Wheelwash (Winsford); Tempa Pano UK (Warrington); Forth Engineering (Flimby); Lakeland Fabrics (Carlisle); Marl International (Ulverston); Classic Desserts (Penrith); Ye Olde Friars (Keswick); Shane Taylor Welding (Maryport); Fuel Exhausts (Kendal); Ajoto (Manchester); Swinton Electro Plating (Salford); Lynn Lloyd Soft Furnishings (Leigh); GJD Manufacturing (Heywood); Multiwood Products (Bury); Ele Advanced Technologies (Colne); Sonaspection International (Morecambe); Aerolux (Blackpool); Empire Cartridges (Preston); Dan Hurtley ltd (Lancaster); Rochdale Production Services (Rochdale); Northern Industrial Electronics (Blackburn); Bloom-In-Box (Burscough); Fylde Fresh and Fabulous (Weeton); Heap & Partners (Birkenhead); SFL Mobile Radio (Bromborough); Fold Hill Foods (Liverpool); Lewis Howes Signs & Engraving (Liverpool); The Dental House (Liverpool); Pearsons Glass (Liverpool); C.A.E. Services (Wallasey); Rose Lane Technology (Liverpool).
Meanwhile, a further 10 businesses which have already experienced the benefits of Made Smarter support are now taking the next step on their digitalisation journeys. They include: Plastic Card Services (Macclesfield); Bind-a-Tex (Bolton); Forest Sofa (Salford); Len Wright Salads (Tarleton); Inscape Interiors (Chorley); Nutree Life (Burscough); Pendle Doors (Blackburn); Generation Juice (Birkenhead); and Machfab Engineering (Birkenhead).
Visual Architects, a designer and maker of venue interiors based in Hyde, Greater Manchester, has invested in robotics, transforming its design and manufacturing capability and bringing in-house 70% of its production.
Lefteris Angelidis, Managing Director, said: “Working with Made Smarter has been amazing from the start. The impartial mentoring at every stage has been fundamental in developing a plan of where we want to be over the coming years.
“Now with the event industry geared to open up again, we are in a really good position to drive forward our ambitions.”
Donna Edwards, Programme Director for the Made Smarter Adoption programme in the North West, said: “Surpassing the milestone of 200 funded technology projects is a significant achievement for the Made Smarter adoption programme in the North West - and there is much more to come.
“Industry 4.0 is the future of manufacturing. Through it, the entire sector can reap endless rewards that will ultimately lead to considerable – and sustainable – growth. But upgrading to new technologies can seem like a complex and daunting task, and SMEs can miss out on significant improvements to their operations.
“Over the last two and half years we have developed a programme of wide-ranging support which cuts through the jargon to provide honest, impartial advice to help businesses identify the most effective digital tools, innovation and skills needed to make an everyday difference to their operations.
“I am delighted that so many manufacturing and engineering businesses of all sizes, from across all sectors, have realised the benefits of digital technology and would encourage other SMEs in the region to start their own conversation with us.”
Since 2019 Made Smarter has engaged with 1,266 businesses in the region to help them introduce digital tools and technologies to help boost productivity and growth and navigate the impact of Covid-19.
618 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.
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.