Greater Manchester business leaders are the first in the country to embark on a trailblazing leadership programme designed to equip them with the vision and the skills to pursue smarter manufacturing.
They are part of the Made Smarter Leadership Programme, run in collaboration with Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) and the government-backed £20m Made Smarter initiative for North West manufacturers.
Jamie Phillips, Processing Manager for Fintek in Ramsbottom, and Jeremy Kemsley-Pein, Director of Heatsense Cables in Rochdale, are among 12 business leaders from across the region who have embarked on an eight-month leadership programme involving a mixture of workshops, site-visits to ‘smart’ SME manufacturers around the region and facilitated-learning sessions.
They undertook their first site visit to Runcorn-based Hosokawa Micron Ltd, a manufacturer and supplier of powder processing systems and equipment, which has transformed its production performance through the application of digital technologies, allowing them to see a smart factory in action.
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.
Other parts of the programme, which will be delivered jointly by LUMS’ academic experts and business leaders already using smart technology, will include special project sprints to test new ideas.
Donna Edwards, Director of the North West Made Smarter pilot, said: “I’m delighted to see that the Made Smarter Leadership Programme delivered by Lancaster University Management School is already having a positive impact on its first cohort of business leaders in the North West.
“The programme is a unique opportunity for manufacturers who want to accelerate the adoption of advanced digital technologies within their business.
“Crucially, it allows leaders to take time out of their business to reflect on the bigger picture and share ideas and experiences alongside their peers in manufacturing. This will help them return to their own business and develop a digital strategy – which has been identified as something many businesses lack, yet it is essential to create growth and efficiencies.”
Professor Angus Laing, Dean of Lancaster University Management School, said: “Lancaster has an outstanding track record in devising and delivering world-class business leadership training. Many of the successful methods we have developed have been embedded into this new programme and tailored specifically to address the aspirations of the Made Smarter initiative.
“It has been designed to empower participants to transform their individual businesses through the use of highly advanced manufacturing methods.”
Andrew Stephenson, Minister for Business and Industry, said: “This new collaboration between Made Smarter and Lancaster University is a fantastic opportunity for these 12 business leaders to develop their skills, get expert guidance and advance further the North West’s reputation for advanced and smart manufacturing.
“Supporting growing business directly on the ground through Made Smarter is a vital part of our modern Industrial Strategy, building on this country’s strong manufacturing heritage and delivering highly-skilled jobs for the future.
“With the Made Smarter pilot set to add up to £115million to the North West economy, I look forward to seeing how the 12 business leaders completing this course will transform and grow their companies as a result.”
Jamie Phillips, Processing Manager for Fintek, an engineering business specialising in surface finishing, said: “This course has helped give insight into the leadership techniques you need as well as the digital strategy. It’s made me realise just how far behind we are – but we have taken that first step.
“There’s always a danger when you talk about digitalisation with you team what you want to achieve that they are put off by the scale, because of how busy they are. It’s important to focus only on one element a time to show the benefits that will bring.
“We are all in different areas of manufacturing, but we all have the same problems.”
Jeremy Kemsley-Pein, Director of Heatsense Cables, a specialist high-performance cable manufacturer, said: “This visit to Hosokawa has shown me the evolution of adopting a digital strategy, rolling it out and then offering it to industry.
“I am looking at taking some of my production lines and digitalising them using the Internet of Things.
“I want to develop a digital strategy. It’s all very well doing little snippets, but you need the whole picture before you start to spend money on that type of journey. This programme is certainly helping that.”