Trailblazing leadership programme equips businesses with the skills to pursue smarter manufacturing

Twelve manufacturing business leaders have embarked on an eight-month Made Smarter Leadership Programme, run in collaboration with Lancaster University Management School and the government-backed £20m Made Smarter initiative for North West manufacturers.

Leadership Programme - The 12 business leaders recently undertook their first site visit to Runcorn-based Hosokawa Micron – image courtesy of Made Smarter.
The 12 business leaders recently undertook their first site visit to Runcorn-based Hosokawa Micron – image courtesy of Made Smarter.

Based in Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region, the 12 leaders will undertake a mixture of workshops, site-visits to ‘smart’ SME manufacturers around the region, facilitated-learning sessions and project ‘sprints’ to test new ideas.

They have already made their first smart factory in action thanks to a visit to Runcorn-based Hosokawa Micron, a manufacturer and supplier of powder processing systems and equipment, which has transformed its production performance through the application of digital technologies.

During the programme, participants will enhance their leadership capacity to enable them to take a strategic view required to adopt hi-tech and digitally-based manufacturing techniques into their own production processes.

They will also gain insights into undertaking an audit to reveal how digital-ready their business currently is, how to measure the true impact and value of any changes they make to the way they work, and how to successfully bring employees and other stakeholders along on their journey of business transformation.

The companies who enrolled in the leadership programme include: Technoprint (Winsford); DT Engineering (Widnes); Flexitallic (Ellesmere Port); Abbey England (Knutsford); Forth Engineering (Maryport); Primasonics (Penrith); Fintek (Ramsbottom); Heatsense Cables (Rochdale); Inscape Interiors (Chorley); Forsberg Services (Lancaster); Gencoa (Liverpool); and Milexa (Liverpool).


Earlier this year, The Manufacturer’s Nick Peters paid Abbey Group a visit to learn how Made Smarter helped them invest in new technology to increase efficiency and profits:

Alan Ryan, managing director of Technoprint, a printer specialising in supplying patient information leaflets to the pharmaceutical industry, said the programme had been broad, relevant and helpful; “The most significant attribute that I am finding is how powerful it is to have a group of other manufacturers all at the start of their journeys, working through this together. It has been very inspiring.”

Paul Mills, strategy director of Inscape Interiors, a manufacturer of building interiors, said: “We know that digitalisation is going to be important for the future and that is what’s going to give us scalability and sustainability.

“Small companies know digitalisation is important but don’t know how to hang it all together. There are disparate silos, and we are wondering how you join the dots. Visits like this are really important because what you have is a company that has gone through the process and can show you the route.”

What is the Made Smarter North West Pilot?

Made Smarter includes match funding opportunities and the provision of dedicated technical and business support for SMEs adopting digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, industrial Internet of Things, 3D printing and robotics, to support advanced manufacturing.

Made Smarter Statistics - Through digital technologies, the UK manufacturing sector could ...

  • The Made Smarter North West Pilot is a £20m investment between government and industry It includes match funding opportunities and the provision of dedicated technical and business support for SMEs
  • It will identify the most effective ways to engage manufacturers in the North West and encourage them to adopt industrial digital technology through high quality, fully-funded advice and support services
  • Through engagement with more than 3,000 manufacturing SMEs, it aims to increase regional GVA by up to £115m
  • Up to 600 North West firms will also qualify for more intense support, including potential grant funding
  • It will be delivered through the region’s five Local Enterprise Partnerships and their network of Growth Hubs
  • It is a generational opportunity for North West Manufacturing to anchor and advance high value manufacturing in the UK
  • It is public-private partnership between government and industry, overseen by the Made Smarter Commission