LCR 4.0: the team turbocharging manufacturing in the NW

Posted on 13 Jun 2019 by Jonny Williamson

The power of publicly-funded support for manufacturing to enable growth and jobs is being proved in stellar fashion in Liverpool City Region. The LCR 4.0 initiative, a part-ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) financed business support programme for the manufacturing sector, has created 80 new jobs and added £2.6m GVA to date.

It is now predicted that LCR 4.0-enabled SMEs will go on to add an additional 955 jobs and £31.1m GVA to the region’s economy in the next three years.

The LCR 4.0 concept is simple but highly effective. Working collaboratively with local businesses, the project’s expert team has given almost 300 SMEs the tools and resources to explore the opportunities and challenges of Industry 4.0 technologies, such as big data, systems integration, Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR) and 3D printing.

The highly successful LCR 4.0 team with chief executive Simon Reid (R).

In using this advanced technology, SMEs have been enabled to increase productivity, reduce costs and pioneer first-of-its-kind innovations.

LCR 4.0’s success was praised at its Technology Showcase event, which took place at Sci-Tech Daresbury last week.

“There is a truly entrepreneurial spirit running through Liverpool City Region,” Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram told the audience. “Because of this, the region can become, and in my opinion is becoming, a manufacturing global hotspot. Programmes like LCR 4.0 are making that possible, establishing innovative and dynamic manufacturing communities across the six boroughs.”

The Technology Showcase event was a celebration of the success and impact of the LCR 4.0 programme, as well as a platform to highlight the additional support and funding available to SMEs across the North West.

Several LCR 4.0 enabled SMEs took to the stage to give real life examples of advanced manufacturing in situ and there were several thought leadership talks from businesses including CNC Robotics which spoke about the ethics of robotics.

A recent survey by LCR 4.0 found that 82% of SMEs say the programme changed their understanding of Industry 4.0, while over two thirds of businesses said it helped them to bring a product to market quicker. Innovative capacity was also enhanced in 82% of respondents and three-quarters were encouraged to be more ambitious as a result of the project.

CNC Robotics, the Bootle-based robotics integrator, has been ‘LCR 4.0 enabled.

Commenting on the results, Dr Andy Levers, technical director at the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) and technical lead for LCR 4.0, said: “These figures are real testament to the impact of the LCR 4.0 programme to date and that, if a business starts to operate in a more innovative way, they will generate better results quicker.”

SMEs are now being encouraged to get involved with Made Smarter UK – a new £2om  initiative set to engage with 3,000 manufacturers across the North West to embed advanced digital technology across the sector.

With this new programme, it is thought the region’s manufacturing sector could generate a 25% increase in productivity and add £115m to the North West economy.

“We’re well on our way to fulfil our potential as a hub of advanced manufacturing,” Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram continued.

“What we need now is to collaborate and embrace new techniques and processes which will drive growth. The £20m Made Smarter initiative will follow in LCR 4.0’s footsteps and offer hundreds of SME manufacturers the chance to do just that, backed by a programme of guidance, advice and grants.”

The LCR 4.0 project, which is due to come to close later this year, has been delivered by partners University of Liverpool’s VEC, Liverpool John Moores University, Sensor City, STFC Hartree Centre and the Liverpool City Region LEP.

In 2018, the LCR 4.0 programme was hailed as an ‘exemplar project’ in the Made Smarter report and featured in the Top 100 European Digital Champions list by the Financial Times.

Read these case studies about some of the SMEs who have benefited from LCR 4.0’s expert assistance and advice:

LCR 4.0 and Digital Manufacturing Week

The Manufacturer stages UK manufacturing’s biggest and most advanced festival of digital manufacturing in Liverpool every November. We chose Liverpool as the venue for Digital Manufacturing Week in great measure because of the level of support and commitment we receive from the LCR 4.0 team and their chief executive Simon Reid.

LCR 4.0’s stand at The Manufacturer’s Smart Factory Expo during Digital Manufacturing Week in Liverpool in November 2018

“Simon and his team represent everything that is best about manufacturing in the UK,” The Manufacturer’s events director James Smith said.

“The energy and sheer excitement they bring to manufacturing and the whole digital transformation agenda is an indispensable part of the Digital Manufacturing Week experience.

“They are an inspiration to us, and set an example that other regions of the UK can really learn from when it comes to programmes that support manufacturers through their digital transformation.

“Their success in bringing increased GVA and jobs to the Liverpool City Region is astonishing, although completely unsurprising to us. It was obvious from the moment we met that our efforts to showcase the best of digital manufacturing would be massively enhanced by our association.”

Have you registered yet for the wide array of exhibits, talks and experiences on offer at Digital Manufacturing Week 2019?

Visit the Digital Manufacturing Week home page now to register and guarantee your attendance.