Greater Manchester businesses among the latest to adopt new digital tools through the Industry 4.0 adoption programme 

A programme helping manufacturers boost productivity and growth using digital tools has reached a major milestone, having now backed its 200th technology project.

The latest Greater Manchester businesses to secure support from the Made Smarter Adoption programme in the North West include: Ajoto (Manchester); Lynn Lloyd Soft Furnishings (Leigh); GJD Manufacturing (Heywood); and Multiwood Products (Bury).

Meanwhile, some businesses which have already experienced the benefits of the government funded and industry-led programme are now taking the next step on their digitalisation journeys. They include: Visual Architects (Hyde); Bind-a-Tex (Bolton); and Forest Sofa (Salford).

Launched in 2019, the Made Smarter Adoption programme in the North West has now supported 161 businesses with £3.9M matched funding for 201 projects, leveraging £10.5M of private sector investment.

This includes 38 businesses in Greater Manchester who have secured grants worth £969,000 for 52 technology projects, valued at almost £3.3M after private investment.

Some manufacturers are developing projects using emerging technologies which enable them to integrate systems, capture and analyse data, and even create simulations of their plants and processes. Others are using 3D-printing, automation, and robotics to solve business challenges and meet increased demand.

Across the North West, this transformative technology adoption is forecast to create 990 new jobs, upskill 1,845 existing roles, and deliver an additional £162.4M in gross value added (GVA) for the North West economy.

In Greater Manchester 222 new jobs will be created, 480 existing roles will be upskilled, and an additional £36.9M in gross value added (GVA) for the region’s economy.

Forest Sofa, a furniture manufacturer based in Salford, has secured support for a second technology project which will reduce fabric waste by up to 10% and reduce cutting time by 50%.

Ryan Mohieddin

Ryan Mohieddin, Managing Director, said: “We are delighted that following Made Smarter’s support with our data and systems integration project, which will enable us to digitally track our production through the manufacturing process, we have now secured support for the second stage of our digitalisation. 

“This involves the pattern digitisation, optimisation and material cutting to increase production capacity, whilst providing a digital back up protecting our IP.

“We are looking forward to this next step on our journey, as we continue to combine traditional manufacturing with digital innovation.”

Visual Architects, a designer and maker of venue interiors based in Hyde, has invested in robotics, transforming its design and manufacturing capability and bringing in-house 70% of its production.

Lefteris Angelidis, Managing Director, said: “Working with Made Smarter has been amazing from the start. The impartial mentoring at every stage has been fundamental in developing a plan of where we want to be over the coming years.

“Now with the event industry geared to open up again, we are in a really good position to drive forward our ambitions.”

Donna Edwards

Donna Edwards, Programme Director for the Made Smarter Adoption programme in the North West, said: “Surpassing the milestone of 200 funded technology projects is a significant achievement for the Made Smarter adoption programme in the North West – and there is much more to come.

“Industry 4.0 is the future of manufacturing. Through it, the entire sector can reap endless rewards that will ultimately lead to considerable – and sustainable – growth. But upgrading to new technologies can seem like a complex and daunting task, and SMEs can miss out on significant improvements to their operations. 

“Over the last two and half years we have developed a programme of wide-ranging support which cuts through the jargon to provide honest, impartial advice to help businesses identify the most effective digital tools, innovation and skills needed to make an everyday difference to their operations.

“I am delighted that so many manufacturing and engineering businesses of all sizes, from across all sectors, have realised the benefits of digital technology and would encourage other SMEs in the region to start their own conversation with us.”

Since 2019 Made Smarter has engaged with 1,266 businesses in the region to help them introduce digital tools and technologies to help boost productivity and growth and navigate the impact of Covid-19.

618 manufacturers have received intensive support including expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps to transform their business, a leadership programme, and funded digital technology internships.

Over 80% of SMEs working with Made Smarter to adopt cutting-edge technologies have seen a boost in productivity, and more than 25% reduced their carbon emissions. Businesses will also benefit from increased revenue, profits and exports, and lower energy bills.

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