Food and drink makers in Greater Manchester City, with the support of Made Smarter, are using technology and digital skills to navigate the major challenges of coronavirus, Brexit, and climate change.

The Made Smarter Adoption Programme in the North West, a collaboration between UK government and industry designed to support the increased use of digital technologies, has worked with dozens of SMEs across the entire supply chain from farm to fork to capitalise on the multitude of benefits that digitalisation offers.

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Through impartial expert technology advice and match funding on technology projects, digital transformation workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps, a leadership programme, digital technology internships, and skills development, it is helping businesses in the sector increase productivity, achieve sustainable growth, and create new high value jobs.

Bury Black Pudding Company, based in Bury, is creating the world’s first smart black pudding factory through data and systems integration, analytics and automation. Whilst they’re a traditional business, they’re still managing to benefit from digital and preserve their values. They’ll be enhancing the precision of their weight and filling process, reducing product giveaway by 1% to save around 750kg for a 60-ton production run.

Antonelli Bros, a manufacturer of ice cream cones, based in Irlam, invested in technology to enable data and systems integration. 

Lancashire Farm Dairies, a natural yogurt producer based in Rochdale, invested in an end-of-line robotic palletiser to boost productivity.

These success stories illustrate the positive impact that digitalisation can have on a sector worth £3.3bn in the North West and that employs more than 45,000 people*.

Made Smarter, which has supported hundreds of businesses to deliver an additional £176 million in gross value added, is now keen to reach more SMEs across the entire food and drink supply chain and has produced a free guide to help demystify digitalisation and drive technology adoption.

The downloadable document includes topics such as how to get started with digital technologies, infrastructure management, increasing control, reducing waste and boosting sustainability, enhancing traceability, and how to hit new trends.

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Alain Dilworth, North West Adoption Programme Manager at Made Smarter, said: “While the North West is home to some of the food industry’s biggest names such as Nestle, Heinz, and Kellogg’s, it is also brimming with innovative small and medium sized enterprises across the entire supply chain, working hard to ensure we continue to enjoy our favourite food and drink from farm to fork.

“The triple challenge of the pandemic, Brexit and the net zero agenda, have created a perfect storm for the food and drink industry, impacting SMEs more than most. But despite these pressures, many of these businesses have shown resilience and determination to keep up with the fast moving industry and are working with Made Smarter on their digital transformation.

“From using robotics and process control technologies to improve sustainability and automating data collection points to create a line of traceability, technologies are not only helping producers overcome challenges, but also unlock a whole host of opportunities.

“To help demystify digitalisation and help SMEs to their first step, we have produced some crucial guidance as well as explained why implementing digital tools is such a priority in this sector.”

To download the free guide visit:  https://www.madesmarter.uk/resources/guide-food-and-drink-manufacturing-is-changing/