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Made Smarter creates 60 digital leaders

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LtoR Chris Mayne (Forsberg Engineering), Paul Mills (Inscape Interiors) and Ryan Anderson (Pendle Doors)
LtoR Chris Mayne (Forsberg Engineering), Paul Mills (Inscape Interiors) and Ryan Anderson (Pendle Doors)

SME manufacturers in Lancashire prepare for the challenges of a digital future with Leadership Programme

Digital leaders in Lancashire are now among 60 with the vision and the skills to pursue smarter manufacturing through Made Smarter’s innovative Leadership Programme.

Five cohorts of managers and directors at SME manufacturing companies have now completed the Made Smarter Leadership Programme through the Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), the University of Liverpool (UoL) and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

The programme encourages current and future leaders to develop a new way of looking at their business and create a clear strategy to enable the adoption of digital technology, including how that can drive the net zero agenda.

It uses a blend of workshops delivered by academics and experts in digital and leadership, site visits to SME manufacturers who are already on the journey of adopting digital technology, facilitated-learning sessions, and special project ‘sprints’ to test new ideas.

The programme also uses peer-to-peer coaching to create a trusted network of leaders, many of whom have remained in close contact.

Among the trailblazing businesses to embark on the programme are: Len Wright Salads (Tarleton), Arc Lancaster (Lancaster), Connect 2 Cleanrooms (Lancaster), Daedalian Glass (Poulton-le-Fylde), Fleetwood Sheet Metal (Fleetwood), Seward Precision Laser (Preston), Pendle Doors (Darwen), Inscape Interiors (Chorley), and Forsberg Services (Lancaster).

With 60 SME leaders now empowered to transform their businesses, manufacturers across the North West are now being encouraged to register their interest for the next two cohort intakes, starting on October 7 and November 10 at Lancaster University.

Reflecting on the success of the programme, Donna Edwards, Director of the Made Smarter Adoption Programme in the North West, said: “I am delighted that the Leadership Programme has helped create 60 new digital leaders by giving them time out of their business to reflect on the bigger picture and share ideas and experiences alongside their peers in manufacturing, and then return to their own business and develop a digital strategy to create growth and efficiencies.

“They are among hundreds of manufacturers in the region grasping the opportunities offered by Made Smarter which include expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help take that first step to transform a business, funded digital technology internships, and support with technology adoption projects.

“I would encourage SME manufacturers to make contact with Made Smarter to find out how we can help with leadership development, skills, and how to adopt technology the right way.”

The programme, which takes place over eight months, includes seven workshops led by both academics delivering leading edge thinking and business practitioners demonstrating adoption in real business settings.

Delegates will also embark on ‘sprints’ where they will test their ideas with other business leaders to build engagement and learn from each other.

Virtual site visits to SME manufacturers already driving digital in their companies included 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, and Veka Plc, a Burnley-based manufacturer of PVCu window systems.

Peter Addison, Business Systems Manager at Connect2CleanRooms, a manufacturer of in critical environments, based in Lancaster, was inspired by the insights.

“The Hosokawa journey was an enlightening presentation and allowed me to consolidate my thinking,” he said. “Although the business is different to ours, their digital challenges were the same.

“It has helped me to consider the role of digitalisation in our business and how this will connect back to things like staff development, wellbeing, our brand and the benefits pursuing and prioritising our digital strategy.”

Peter also benefited from the Learning Forums.

“My initial thought of having to be part of a group discussing business issues was not something I particularly looked forward to doing. However, six months on they have been so useful and a great opportunity to connect and learn from others. Even after the programme ended, we still meet up weekly, and throw into the discussion issues we are facing and you can always be assured of honest, unbiased, constructive feedback. It has been brilliant.”

Professor Angus Laing, Dean of Lancaster University Management School, said: “When we co-created the Leadership Programme with Made Smarter, our hope was to create a space for leaders to build their confidence, capacity and capability, to identify, test and adopt new technologies.

“It is clear from the feedback from so many of the leaders from the five cohorts who have now embarked on this programme that they have reaped great benefit from taking vital time away from the business to develop a strategy to adopt hi-tech and digitally-based manufacturing techniques into their own production processes while bringing employees and other stakeholders along on their digital transformation journey.”

Registration for the next Leadership Programme is now open. For more information or to apply for your place visit madesmarter.uk

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