Next Wave of Cheshire Manufacturers Sign Up to Made Smarter Support

13 Aug 2019 10:54
Published by: Kian French

Manufacturing firms in Cheshire 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.

Lowlife Products, based in Bollington, Plastic Card Services, based in Macclesfield, and Cadscan, based in Chester, are among 11 businesses in the North West which are set to introduce advanced manufacturing methods.

The businesses which operate in the food and beverages, 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.

Cadscan has been innovating with 3D scanning products across a variety of markets including healthcare.

Dr Alastair Buchanan, Managing Director, said with the support and matched-funding offered by Made Smarter, Cadscan will be able to invest in a pilot smart-manufacturing facility that uses a patent-pending digital method to design and manufacture bespoke orthoses for the prevention of diabetic foot ulceration.

"The current process to produce correctly fitting footwear to treat this condition - which affects millions of people globally each year - is slow to produce, bulky and expensive." he said.

"Our solution aims to make cheap yet effective custom orthoses for which the socio-economic potential is considerable."

Lowlife Products, a manufacturer which provides retrofit solutions for leisure vehicles, believes in order to grow it needs to take advantage of digital technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and 3D printing.

Co-owner Andy Gosling said funding from Made Smarter will fast-track the company's research and development and accelerate the manufacturing process.

"We recognise that in order to grow our business and remain competitive and profitable, we need to make some radical changes to the way their business operates today and to take advantage of digital technologies that will transform the business." he said.

Plastic Card Services manufacture over 50 million plastic cards each year for FTSE 100 companies and household names.

The business wants to tap into new card printing markets using the next generation of industrial digital technologies (IDT), which will increase productivity and create new jobs.

Louise Ray, Director of Marketing and Communications, said: "Over the last quarter of a century PCS has grown year on year thanks to our forward-thinking investment in new technologies.

"The support and matched-funding offered by Made Smarter allows the business to invest in an industry-leading technology that will increase the efficiency of our production-line processes and improve our capacity to grow. Crucially, though, it will give PCS confidence to bid for new contracts in an entirely new market."

The new firms to sign up to Made Smarter follow a pioneering tranche of nine manufactures 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."

Up to 600 North West firms will also qualify for more in-depth support including mentoring from senior industry figures, a leadership and management programme specifically designed to support leaders to implement digital change, and match-funded grants towards the cost of new software or hardware.

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