20 Apr 2024

Powering the digital transformation of SME manufacturers

Made Smarter and tech institutes join forces to demystify digital transformation

Made Smarter and leading technology demonstrators have announced they have joined forces to demystify digital transformation with a new white paper. ‘Made Smarter technologies: powering the digital transformation of SME manufacturers’ is a practical guide from the government-backed and industry-led technology adoption programme in the North West.

The free-to-download document aims to inform and inspire manufacturers exploring existing technologies such as software, industrial IoT, automation and robotics, 3D printing, and cyber security, while showcasing emerging digital tools like artificial intelligence (AI) and digital twins.

The white paper is backed by industry-leading institutions who work with Made Smarter to demonstrate technology in action to SME manufacturers, including:

• the North of England Robotics Innovation Centre (NERIC), the University of Salford’s state-of-the-art for automation and robotics;

• PrintCity, Manchester Metropolitan University’s 3D printing facility;

• The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Liverpool, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult;

• the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) North West, based in Samlesbury, Lancashire;

• The Hartree Centre at Sci-Tech Daresbury, Cheshire.

PrintCity has supported over 200 SMEs to develop new products, goods, and services, since it was launched six years ago, as well as supporting students to learn essential 3D design, scanning and printing skills.

Made Smarter has worked closely with PrintCity delivering innovative training for SMEs through the Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund and Leadership programmes.

Professor Carl Diver, PrintCity Director, said: “PrintCity is here to help demystify 3D printing to help boost productivity and growth within a business.

“Our multidisciplinary team has cultivated a strong partnership with Made Smarter to deliver innovation workshops which demonstrates to SME manufacturers that 3D printing can introduce unprecedented efficiency, flexibility, and innovation.

“We are delighted to support this new white paper to educate and inspire technology adoption among SME manufacturers.”

NERIC is a new £16m state-of-the-art facility in Salford, consisting of three laboratories showcasing how robotics and automation can address real-world business problems.

Tabs Khojani, Business Development Manager, said: “NERIC has established itself as a key collaborator in the business ecosystem in Greater Manchester and the wider region. We have developed a strong connection with Made Smarter to help signpost SME manufacturers towards business support and grant funding opportunities.

“NERIC and Made Smarter share the view that the benefits of adopting robotics and automation in the manufacturing sector are clear. Automation can help to address skills shortages, improve quality and efficiency, increase productivity, and gain a competitive advantage.”

The Hartree Centre, at Sci-Tech Daresbury, in Cheshire helps businesses and organisations explore and adopt supercomputing, data science and AI technologies for enhanced productivity, predictive maintenance, data-driven decision-making and economic growth. It is also a leading partner in the Smart Manufacturing Data Hub, supporting SME manufacturers to become more competitive by harnessing the power of their data.

Francis Lee, Business Development Manager at the Hartree Centre, said: “We are proud to be part of a strong ecosystem alongside Made Smarter, supporting SME manufacturers to explore and adopt technology and the skills needed to apply practical digital solutions to individual and industry-wide challenges for societal and economic benefit.”

AMRC North West, based in Samlesbury, is part of a cluster of world-class centres for innovation and research into advanced manufacturing technologies. Research and development are accessible to manufacturers driven by the goal to increase innovation across the wider region, working closely with the extended SME supply chains.

Iain Martin, Senior Engagement Manager at ARMC NW, said: “AMRC North West is driven by industry, for industry – no matter what size your business. Our R&D capabilities are available to any manufacturer that wants to reduce waste, raise productivity, improve quality and make the low-carbon transition while moving up the value chain.

“Made Smarter is a vital part of the technology adoption ecosystem in the North West. We are proud to support this new white paper to educate and inspire technology adoption among SME manufacturers.”

The MTC in Liverpool provides a high quality environment for the development and demonstration of new technologies on an industrial scale, supporting skills, productivity and growth across the UK manufacturing industry.

Mark Sutherberry, Senior Business Development Manager, said: “We share Made Smarter’s belief that SMEs are the beating heart of UK Manufacturing.

“Our SME support team has been formed to work directly with a business, whether a budding entrepreneur or start-up, going through scale-up pains or maturing into a larger established SME. Together we can draw on the extensive resources of the MTC to address your practical, technical, and strategic manufacturing challenges.”

Since 2019, Made Smarter has helped 300 manufacturers invest £22.5m in a range of IDTs and reap a raft of rewards including 1,600 new jobs, 2,850 upskilled roles, all while boosting the economy by £242m.

The white paper also showcases Made Smarter-supported manufacturers already reaping the rewards of technology adoption, including: Joshua Greaves & Sons, Evertaut, Fylde Fresh and Fabulous, First Play Dietary Foods, GB Engineering, Bloom-in-Box, Storth, JCM Fine Joinery, Fusion Implants, Croft AM, Mackinnon & Saunders, and MSM aerospace fabricators.

Donna Edwards, Director of Made Smarter’s North West Adoption Programme, said: “Made Smarter’s adoption programme is helping SME manufacturers catch up with the wealth of digital tools and technologies currently available, for them to be ready to fully embrace the next great technological leap.

“Over the last five years technology has shown its true colours in the form of growth, investment, employment, productivity, and a competitive advantage. The race is now on to fully capitalise on the opportunities that exist, as well as those on the horizon. Business leaders therefore need the skills, knowledge, and experience to respond to this rapid change.

“Demonstrating these technologies in action is vital to Made Smarter’s success. We are enabling people to get their hands on these technologies by connecting SME manufacturers with each other and building relationships with leading technology institutes. This way we can ensure we keep a finger on the pulse of emerging technologies to help the sector thrive and be competitive.

“This new white paper brings all those elements together into a useful and simple to understand guide which business leaders and digital champions can download and share with their teams. We hope it is the starting point for further conversations with the Made Smarter team.”

For more information about Made Smarter and to download the white paper visit: https://www.madesmarter.uk/resources/made-smarter-technologies-how-made-smarter-inspires-digital-transformation

Company info: Made Smarter