A generation of manufacturing leaders is now armed with new digital skills and tools after graduating from a trailblazing North West programme.

Fifteen delegates completed the ‘Leading Digital Transformation’ programme, designed by Made Smarter, the government-funded industry-led initiative to increase technology adoption among SME manufacturers, and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

Delivered through a blend of face-to-face workshops, online webinars, case studies to see technology in action, and a site visit to PrintCity, MMU’s 3D additive and digital manufacturing centre, the funded programme empowers participants to create a bespoke digitalisation strategy for their business.

It also provides them with a set of practical tools to make the most of opportunities that digital transformation can offer and access further support from Made Smarter, including funding for new technology and specialist advisers.

Companies who recently completed the three-month fast-track programme include: FRC Group; Ajax Equipment; Harten Frameworks; Greer Manufacturing; Logs Direct; BEP Surface Technologies; AV Metals; Rapid 3D Solutions; Playdale Playgrounds; Slater Harrison; Beverston Engineering; Liversidge Windows; CNC Robotics; and Arden Dies.

Over the past four years 75 digital leaders have been supported through the inaugural Made Smarter leadership programme and more recently, Leading Digital Transformation, which is now recruiting for its next cohort of businesses.

Manufacturers ‘must digitalise to survive, recover and grow’

Manufacturers across the North West are now being encouraged to register their interest for the next intake, starting in early September 2023.

Oliver Miller, Industry 4.0 project manager at Knowsley-based Beverston Engineering, a precision component manufacturer, said: “The leadership programme has been a fantastic opportunity to engage with a network of business leaders on the same journey, all with their own stories and insights.”

Liz Foulds, finance director of Lancaster-based Logs Direct, a manufacturer of fuel products, said: “We are on a journey to digitalise and decarbonise. To make the right decisions at the right time we have needed a digital strategy and roadmap. This leadership programme and other support from Made Smarter has helped accelerate us forwards.”

Reflecting on the success of the programme, Donna Edwards, director of the Made Smarter Adoption Programme in the North West, said: “Technology and digital strategy have proved a great benefit to manufacturers over the last few years as they have navigated a multitude of crises.

“They will be even more important to navigate future challenges and opportunities. But it’s clear that leadership and digital skills are needed to ensure businesses, especially SMEs, are properly equipped to deal with what lies ahead.

“Our mission is to develop a generation of digital leaders. I am delighted to celebrate the graduation of this latest cohort who have seen the value of taking time out of their businesses to share ideas and experiences and return with new ideas and a digital strategy to create sustainable growth.”

Smart manufacturing programme rolls out to North West universities

Since launching in 2019 Made Smarter has supported 2,500 manufacturers in the North West to access expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help take that first step to transform a business, and support with technology adoption projects.