Manufacturers from Lancashire have urged others to follow in their footsteps by adopting technology and digital tools to survive and thrive.
Businesses from across the region shared their insights at the Made Smarter: journey to digital manufacturing conference.
They included DA Techs, an alloy wheel refurbishment specialist based in Chorley, Bloom-in-Box, an eco-friendly plastics manufacturer based in Burscough, and Nutree Life, a food manufacturer, also based in Burscough.
All three are among 1,200 businesses that have engaged with the Made Smarter North West Adoption programme over the last two years.
Now after securing additional funding from the government, Made Smarter is looking to engage with hundreds more manufacturers in the county, offering matched funded grants towards technology projects; expert, impartial technology advice; digital transformation workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps to transform their business; a leadership programme; and funded digital technology internships.
Patrick Mroczak, Co-Founder and CEO, of Nutree Life, shared his experiences of how technology had helped his business navigate the pandemic.
He said: “We needed to digitalise and have the data at our fingertips. Working with Made Smarter and I am now able to sit at home and see the entire operation from how the machines are working all the way to the accounts.
“It’s a no brainer to embrace the technology. It makes you think differently and progresses you.
“Made Smarter inspired us and drove us forward and we have created something special.”
During a panel discussion ‘How Made Smarter is powering the fourth industrial revolution’ Glyn Jones, Service Delivery Director at BAE Systems based in Samlesbury and Chair of the Made Smarter Pilot Steering Group, said collaboration between big business and SMEs was also vital to embracing the opportunities of digital manufacturing.
“The key word is collaboration,” he said. “Big companies like ours do not have all the answers and we are collaborating more and more to meet the challenges we are facing.
“We are extracting best practice where it lies and if you can bring together different organisations looking at challenges from a different perspective, you can end up with a fantastic outcome.”
The conference also featured insights from industry leaders Juergen Maier, Chair of the Digital Catapult and co-Chair of the Made Smarter Commission, Stephen Phipson, the Chief Executive of Make UK, Andrea Hough, MD of Atec Solutions and member of the Made Smarter Pilot Steering Group and Made Smarter Commission, Donna Edwards, Managing Director of the Growth Company and Made Smarter North West Adoption Programme Director, and Matt Ellis, Assistant Director of Made Smarter for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Meanwhile, Dr Randall Zindler from Lancaster University Management School led a session on how to lead the digital transformation in a manufacturing business.
Keynote speaker Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng underlined the importance of manufacturing through the pandemic and the UK’s drive towards recovery, growth and net zero.
“Made Smarter has a critically important part to play in all of these targets,” he said. “Industry leaders have made clear that digital technology is vital to recovery and to the growth of UK manufacturing and they are all backing Made Smarter to achieve this.”
For more details about Made Smarter visit www.madesmarter.uk