The Liverpool City Region has a really strong manufacturing scene. So many of the region’s companies are looking to accelerate their growth through technology, and forward-thinking makers have access to an abundance of resources to do so.
Amy Edwards, Made Smarter’s Digital Transformation Specialist for the Liverpool City Region, speaks to these manufacturers on a daily basis. Here, she explores exactly how they’re rising to the challenge of technology adoption.
A real appetite
Liverpool City Region makers are certainly savvy. Many had already tapped into other business support for digitalisation, and were developing a more holistic view when Made Smarter’s North West pilot was launched – and these were the first to get in touch with us. Word of mouth then led to a movement across the region, while these early adopters saw the benefit of getting ahead of their competitors.
Manufacturers that initially engage with Made Smarter for grant funding are frequently amazed by the wider advantages that our programme offers. They use our support for the likes of skills, culture, leadership and strategy. Being early adopters has meant they’ve had a head start and many are now benefitting from second or even third projects.
I’ve found that the precision engineering sector has relied on our support especially, although we’ve helped a vast range of industries – from furniture makers to food and drink manufacturers. More have contacted us during the pandemic as they look to boost their resilience, and I would urge any who haven’t to do so now in order to aid their 2021 recovery.
The positive impact
Those who have grasped technology with both hands are really reaping the rewards. Thanks to the increased accessibility of data, for example, they now better understand their processes and can make valuable improvements.
Liverpool City Region manufacturers have also been able to enhance communication and traceability. Food and drink and chemicals companies can trace the root cause of any product issues and swiftly resolve them, protecting their reputation in the process. Various sectors can now provide customers with real-time updates through data and systems integration too.
Technology has additionally allowed some businesses to bring specific functions in-house, meaning they’re less reliant on suppliers, can remove timescale problems, and have more control over quality. Plus, they can upskill their team, resulting in a more highly paid and motivated workforce. This in turn boosts the Liverpool City Region economy, especially as makers can more easily expand and reach new markets.
Liverpool City Region makers in action
A wide range of Liverpool City Region manufacturers have benefitted from Made Smarter’s support and advice. They include H. Miller Bros – a micro business who create hardwood kitchens. Despite their size, they’ve been able to start thinking about how they can make huge improvements to their way of working through technology, whilst keeping true to their brand.
Applied Nutrition is another. They’ve experienced incredible growth over the last three years, and we’ve helped them gain better control over production, reshore their activities and branch out into new products.
I’ve also spoken to sectors that are less likely to identify as manufacturing-based. We are here to help, support and fund any maker – from small, niche homemade foods to aircraft parts. Dentists, for instance, have relied on us to introduce additive manufacturing and digital scanning into their processes for making dental products. The impact of COVID-19 has led them to fast-track change and technology implementation.
Of course, our support extends beyond the adoption of the technology itself. We’ve enhanced the leadership skills within many manufacturing organisations through our Leadership Programme. In a great number of cases, this happens before the funding process, demonstrating focus and determination. The leader, or someone they nominate, can be the ‘digital champion’ for their business – this is crucial to ensuring that all employees embrace the digital transformation.
Support and advice available
Our Leadership Programme is just one such way that Liverpool City Region makers can benefit from Made Smarter.
I always urge businesses, regardless of their tech level or previous support, to begin with a digital transformation workshop. This will truly open their eyes to all the opportunities available.
After that, I’ve found that many manufacturers want to bring in young people and new skills in order to enhance their agility and future-proof their operations. Our dedicated – and fully-funded – digital technology internship programme onboards digital natives who can deliver this fresh perspective.
We offer match-funding of up to 50% and specialist advice too. Our advice is 100% impartial, and our suppliers are vetted. Simply put, we help give manufacturers all the information they need to start their digital journey.
Some advice I always give to Liverpool City Region makers when they’re beginning their digital transformation journey is to:
- Build your network
- Join the local Chambers
- Speak to other makers
- Use localised support – like the Leadership Programme in Liverpool
- See technology in action in the region – such as Sensor City, MTC, the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre, the Hartree Centre, and Liverpool John Moores University
We’ve been supporting the Liverpool City Region for two years now, and whilst there is of course a long way to go for full technology adoption, digitalisation has come on leaps and bounds. We’re proud to help the community grow in whatever way we can.
Based in the region? If you’d like an informal, impartial chat with me, I’d love to hear from you. Simply email me directly at email@example.com.