Nine companies based in the North West are the first in the country to benefit from a government programme designed to boost the country's productivity and growth through the adoption of digital technology.
The UK manufacturing businesses – which include a puppet-maker behind some of TV’s most iconic characters and a 50-year-old family-owned engineering firm – are part of the £20m Made Smarter Programme, which aims to help them to grow by adopting new digital technologies.
Based in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region, the nine companies are set to introduce 12 advanced manufacturing methods, including artificial intelligence (AI), industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 3D printing and robotics.
The investment is expected to bring extensive benefits including improved productivity and revenues, increased export sales, job creation, upskilling existing workforces, digital integration with supply chains, improved safety practices and reduced environmental impact.
Through digital technologies, the UK manufacturing sector could:
For these nine businesses alone, the Made Smarter business support programme could deliver an additional £5.5m in gross value added (GVA) for the North West economy.
The firms set to benefit from the pilot scheme include: Abbey Group (Knowsley); Applied Nutrition (Liverpool); DT Engineering North West (Widnes); EnviroSystems (Preston); Fusion Implants (Liverpool); Graham Engineering (Nelson); Mackinnon and Saunders (Altrincham); T&R Precision Engineering (Colne); and The Nursery Kitchen (Birkenhead).
They are the first tranche of firms to grasp the opportunity offered by the pilot scheme, which aims to engage with more than 3,000 manufacturing SMEs in the North West and increase the region’s GVA by up to £115m.
Up to 600 North West firms will also qualify for more in-depth support including mentoring from senior industry figures, a leadership & management programme specifically designed to support leaders to implement digital change and grants towards the cost of new equipment.
Donna Edwards, director of the Made Smarter North West pilot, said: “Working with business we have found that they are enthusiastic about the benefits of adopting new digital technology. Often, they need funding support, but also the specialist advice and insight to help them select the right approach for their business. This is exactly how Made Smarter can and is helping businesses across the region.
One business already reaping significant benefits from new tech is Abbey Group, a small, owner directed and managed company offering a broad range of engineering capabilities from traditional metal fabrication to precision engineering.
The Manufacturer’s Nick Peters recently paid Abbey Group a visit:
What is Made Smarter?
Made Smarter is an investment between government and industry which includes match funding opportunities and the provision of dedicated technical and business support for SMEs adopting digital technology, to support advanced manufacturing.
The initiative is the result of the Made Smarter Commission – a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the private sector.
Co-Chaired by Business Secretary Greg Clark, and CEO of Siemens Juergen Maier, the Commission includes representatives from 17 leading UK manufacturing and technology companies, and trade bodies.