New chair appointed for £20m Made Smarter North West Pilot

Launched at Digital Manufacturing Week by Business Minister Richard Harrington and CEO of Siemens UK, Juergen Maier, the £20m Made Smarter North West Pilot has appointed BAE Systems’ Andrea Thompson as Steering Board Chair.

Made Smarter North West Pilot was launched at Digital Manufacturing Week.
Made Smarter North West Pilot was launched at Digital Manufacturing Week.

The benefits of adopting digital technology solutions in manufacturing are vast; it can transform operations, processes and products.

Despite this, the Made Smarter Review reports that low adoption levels of industrial digital technology and poor leadership is holding back Britain’s manufacturing productivity.

The Pilot aims to boost the North West’s manufacturing sector through the adoption of such industrial digital technologies.

Officially launched in Liverpool (14 November), at TM’s Smart Factory Expo which forms part of Digital Manufacturing week, the review is backed by government and some of the world’s biggest businesses.

It strategically sets out to engage with 3,000 SME manufacturers based in five North West Growth Hubs; Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region.  The region’s manufacturing sector could generate a 25% increase in productivity and add £115m to the North West economy.

Thompson is BAE’s MD for Europe & International Programmes. This includes responsibility for BAE’s role in the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft programme, the world’s largest defence project.

In her role as chair of the Made Smarter steering group, Thompson will oversee the successful development and operational delivery of the Made Smarter programme.

TM’s editorial director, Nick Peters spoke to Maier about the initiative at Smart Factory Expo.

Over the next few years, the Pilot will test out the most effective ways to engage with manufacturers and encourage them to adopt technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, IoT and sensors, 3D printing and robotics.

Andrea Thompson has been appointed chair of the Made Smarter steering group.
Andrea Thompson has been appointed chair of the Made Smarter steering group.

Speaking via video message at Digital Manufacturing Week, Richard Harrington, MP for Business & Industry, said that the Made Smarter initiative was a vital part of the government’s Industrial Strategy as it doesn’t just affect one sector, but every sector.

The Minister also expects this initial Made Smarter Pilot to be broadened out to encompass the rest of the country in the very near future.

Maier added: “The UK can enter the history books in two ways. Either we get our mojo back, we bring back the vital role manufacturing and engineering plays, and we rebalance our economy (not just in terms of the North | South divide, but towards high-skill jobs and wealth creation); or, as the generation who missed the boat, who failed to get behind this new digital Industrial Revolution and we see our manufacturing base slip away as a result.”

Companies that get involved in the project will get the chance to access match funded support and advice regarding how new technologies could revolutionise their manufacturing processes and reap the benefits of more efficient production.