Posted on January 21, 2020 by staff

New digital skills grow North West manufacturing


Ten leaders of SME manufacturers based in Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region, are the first to graduate from a programme run in collaboration with Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) and Made Smarter, the industry and government partnership driving manufacturing productivity and growth through digital technology.

The 8 month programme involved a mixture of workshops, site-visits to other manufacturers including Veka, Hosokawa Micron and Senator and special project sprints delivered by Siemens Digital Industries to test new ideas.

Peter Phillips, Managing Director for Abbey England, a Knutsford-based manufacturer of leather and brassware for the equestrian and leather goods market, used the programme to aid structural changes in the company and identify new methods of 3D scanning and 3D printing which could half the company’s manufacturing lead time.

“For any other SMEs wondering where to start with digitalisation, I absolutely recommend this programme,” he said.

“Not only does it arm you with the basics about the technologies that could help you, but it gives you the tools to bring them into your business.”

Anthony McMullin, Head of Operations at Milexa Group, a business designing and manufacturing wallpaper and flooring products, based in Liverpool, has seen the company’s GDP increase by two per cent over the year by applying what he learned on the programme.

“I feel like I understand much better what constitutes good leadership, in terms of the personal characteristics this involves, but also in how we can focus our energy to inspire a transformational culture that thrives in a changing world,” he said.

The programme included a two-day residential and six workshops led by both academics and business practitioners.

During the programme, delegates also attended three site visits and workshops with manufacturers who have already adopted new technologies.

Through the programme delegates would also embark on ‘sprints’ where they would test their ideas with another delegates’ business to build engagement and learning from each other.

Donna Edwards, Director of the North West Made Smarter pilot, added: “I’m delighted that the Made Smarter Leadership programme has made such a positive impact on the first cohort of business leaders in the North West.

“It has given leaders crucial time out of their business to reflect on the bigger picture and share ideas and experiences alongside their peers in manufacturing. They have been taught about the wide-ranging digital tools available to them and the potential impact they can have on their business’s growth and competitiveness.

“This pioneering group of leaders have been able to create a digitalisation strategy to explore how technology can improve business performance, as well as develop the leadership skills needed to manage operational change and employee expectations.”