Manufacturing firms in Greater Manchester have signed up to a business-led programme which aims to use digital technology to boost growth and success.
By implementing advances in data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 3D-printing and robotics, firms can enhance their profitability and competitive edge.
The investment is expected to bring extensive benefits including improved productivity and revenues, increased export sales, job creation, providing new skills to workforces, integration with supply chains and reduced environmental impact.
Handrail Creations, based in Bolton, Lancashire Farm Dairies, based in Rochdale, and Fabricon Design, based in Ashton-Under-Lyne, are among 11 businesses in the North West which are set to introduce advanced manufacturing methods.
The businesses which operate in the food and beverage, engineering, healthcare and agriculture sectors, will benefit from the £20 million Made Smarter Programme, which will help them to grow by adopting new digital technologies.
Minister for Business and Industry Nadhim Zahawi said: “The Made Smarter Programme is enabling manufacturers across the North West to access advanced digital technologies with the aim of driving growth and increasing productivity while reducing costs – all part of our ambition to make the UK a global leader in shaping how the modern world does business.
“The 11 new companies announced today will not only reap the benefits themselves, the investment will support a multi-million-pound boost to the local economy, keeping the region at the forefront of the latest innovations. They join 24 businesses who have received project funding to date, and I would urge others to follow in their footsteps.”
For these 11 businesses alone, the Made Smarter business support programme could deliver an additional £13M in gross value added (GVA) for the North West economy over the next three years.
Handrail Creations is a specialist handrail manufacturer which boasts clients such as the US Embassy, the Houses of Parliament and celebrities’ homes.
Kenny Macfarlane, Managing Director, said adopting state-of-the-art systems and software is an important step for the business.
“Joinery is no longer an old-fashioned trade – using state of the art 3D scanning systems and software is crucial to building our company for the future,” he said. “Being able to capture and process the 3D data we need using this new digital technology will speed up our process from survey to manufacture by up to 20 per cent.
“It will increase our efficiency, but more importantly it will reduce the chance of error, ensuring that our bespoke products are right first time.
“Looking to the future, it will undoubtedly give us scope to diversify into other products and services.”
Lancashire Farm Dairies produces yogurts made exclusively with free-range milk.
It is adopting new industrial digital technologies as part of its ambition to double in size over the next five years.
Sarfaraz Akram, Chief Operating Officer, said: “Through the support of Made Smarter we will be able to invest in a new manufacturing process which enhances automation and process control – a key part of the company’s strategic plans.”
Fabricon Design is an innovator in plastics component design for application across a range of industrial and manufacturing industries.
Working with Made Smarter it is embracing a raft of Industry 4.0 technologies.
Mark Bushdyhan, Managing Director, said: “Using support and match-funding from Made Smarter we have mapped out a series of phased business improvements which will boost our design and manufacturing processes by introducing digital technologies, such as 3D printing and virtual reality.
“And that is just the start. Our experience of working with the Made Smarter pilot has given us the insight and confidence to become more automated in the future, embracing digital manufacturing with cloud computing, mobile technology and machine connectivity.”
The new firms to sign up to Made Smarter follow a pioneering tranche of nine manufacturers already part of the pilot, which aims to engage with over 3,000 manufacturing SMEs in the North West.
Donna Edwards, Director of the Made Smarter North West pilot, said: “I am thrilled to welcome another tranche of SMEs to the Made Smarter pilot.
“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.
“It’s been interesting to see the range of businesses and sub-sectors the successful applicants have come from and the technologies they have selected.
“Made Smarter is relevant for any North West SMEs employing less than 250 staff who make, create, manufacture or engineer and I urge local businesses not to miss this opportunity. Register today for a fully-funded audit of your operations.”