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Made Smarter reaches major milestone

104 SME manufacturers, including 20 in Liverpool City Region, to reap benefits of digital technology

Industry-led government-backed movement needed more than ever to help businesses maintain their competitive edge and come back smarter post Covid-19 – says Donna Edwards

Made Smarter, the movement helping SMEs join the Industry 4.0 revolution, has reached a major milestone having now funded more than 100 businesses, including 20 in Liverpool City Region.

The North West technology adoption pilot is working with small and medium-sized manufacturers to help them introduce digital tools and technologies to help boost productivity and growth, as well as navigate the impact of Covid-19.

Almost 950 SME manufacturers have secured support, including specialised advice and £2.5M of funding, since the launch of Made Smarter 18 months ago.

This support includes expert, impartial technology advice, digital roadmapping workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps to transform their business, leadership development programme developed in partnership with Lancaster University, and funded digital technology internships.

104 of the businesses have now secured matched funding for 115 projects and are forecast to deliver an additional £100M in gross value added (GVA) for the North West economy over the next three years.

The latest Liverpool City Region SMEs to secure funding include: Organica UK (Birkenhead); MachFab Engineering (Birkenhead); Centriforce (Kirkdale); King and Fowler (Liverpool); The Protein Works (Runcorn); United Automation (Southport); C-Probe Systems (St Helens); Ntd Shielding Services (St Helens); and Openhouse Products (Birkenhead).

Rod Wah, Managing Director of Beverston Engineering, a Knowsley-based manufacturer of components for the aerospace sector, said: “We are delighted to have secured the support and advice of Made Smarter in our ambition to transform to a smart factory. By taking progressive steps using digital technologies we are confident we can grow and future proof our business, upskill our staff and reduce our carbon footprint.”

Ian Hazlehurst, Managing Director of MachFab Engineering, a Birkenhead manufacturer of structural steel work fabrications, said: “We fully embraced the idea that technology is the future of manufacturing and are thrilled to have the support of Made Smarter.

“The success of our project will open doors to further innovation and diversification of our business and unlock our potential for growth.”

Meanwhile, Applied Nutrition (Kirkby) has already experienced the benefits of Made Smarter support, and is now taking the next step in its digitalisation journey.

Parity Medical, a Wirral-based manufacturer of mobile wireless computer carts and specialist clinical computing devices for the NHS and private healthcare sector, is introducing a software package to be able to sell to customers via a virtual showroom. The innovative solution integrates with the company’s administrative, sales and production systems and will reduce travel time and costs, significantly accelerate the sales process, and cut its carbon emissions by 11%.

Steve Wood, Managing Director, said: “The technology will transform our sales process, removing delays and errors, allowing us to get it right the first time – which will make us significantly more efficient. This will increase productivity and accelerate the business’s growth.

“The reduced travel translates into lower carbon emissions at a time when sustainability is increasingly important to the industry.”

Some manufacturers are developing projects using 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.

By adopting cutting-edge technologies, these businesses are benefitting from improved productivity and revenue, increased exports and job creation, an upskilled workforce, lower energy bills, and a reduced carbon footprint.

Donna Edwards, Programme Director for the Made Smarter North West pilot, said: “Reaching 104 business and 115 funded projects is a fantastic achievement – and there is much more to come.

“Over the last 18 months the Made Smarter team has engaged with hundreds of makers from every corner of the region offering specialist advice about the benefits to adopting new digital technology.

“I am thrilled that so many firms of all sizes have tapped into our expertise to help them select the right approach for their business, how much to invest and which technologies will bring the greatest benefits.

“The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on manufacturing and resulted in widespread repercussions for the economy. Manufacturers have reacted and adapted to the different circumstances they find their businesses facing and technology has been at the heart of that response.

“While there is uncertainty, what is clear is that Made Smarter is needed more than ever to help SMEs maintain their competitive edge using technology to come back smarter and navigate the future.”

Other businesses previously revealed to have secured funding include: Abbey Group (Knowsley); Blends Holdings (Kirkby); Palace Chemicals (Liverpool); Bulky Bob’s (Liverpool); Parity Medical (Wirral); Diamond Precision Engineering (Birkenhead); Hi-Tech Steel Services (St Helens); DT Engineering North West (Widnes); and Beverston Engineering (Knowsley).