Made Smarter in Lancashire eyes £4.7m investment target

Lancashire manufacturers supported by Made Smarter, are forecasting the creation of more than 300 new jobs from £4.7M of technology investment.

By Tim Gavell
Thursday, 17th December 2020, 7:00 am

Since it was launched two years ago, the North West technology adoption pilot has engaged with 311 businesses to help them introduce digital tools and technologies to boost productivity and growth, and navigate the impact of Covid-19.

147 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.

41 businesses have secured £1M matched funding for 48 projects which are worth £4.7M after private sector investment.

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Nutree Life in Preston makes protein bars for Olympian Daley Thompson. Pictured are Decathlete Daley Thompson , with Gary Barnshaw, Adam Hodgkinson and Patrick Mroczak

These technology adoption projects are forecast to deliver an additional £44M in gross value added for the Lancashire economy over the next three years, create 311 new jobs, and upskill 760 existing roles.

Some are using 3D-printing, automation, and robotics some are using data analysis and systems integration.

Among the latest wave of manufacturers to secure funding for technology projects are: Daedalian Glass, of Poulton-le-Fylde, and Energy Ace of Chorley.

Meanwhile, some manufacturers who have already experienced the benefits of Made Smarter support, are now taking the next step in their digitalisation journey, including: Inscape Interiors of Chorley; Panaz in Burnley); The Protein Lab of Blackpool; and Nutree Life in Preston.

The Energy Ace HQ in Chorley

Gary Vizard, managing director at Energy Ace, a manufacturer of energy saving systems for commercial and domestic applications in Chorley, said: “With the support and advice of Made Smarter we have been able to adopt digital technology to improve data and systems integration.

"This will enable us to continue our growth trajectory with the confidence that all systems are aligned and the right KPIs are visible for all to see in order to react much quicker to potential issues and to manage the growth in a more sustainable manner.”

Patrick Mroczak, co-Founder and CEO, of Nutree Life, a food manufacturer based in Preston, said: “With the support and advice of Made Smarter we have been able to in invest in state-of-the-art automation and control technologies which have enabled us to cope with unprecedented demand for our products during coronavirus crisis, and lay the foundations for a network which captures the data for further analysis.”

Paul Mills, Director at Inscape Interiors, a manufacturer of commercial cubicles, washrooms and fitted furniture, based in Chorley, said: "With the support and advice of Made Smarter we have been able to adopt digital technology to improve data and systems integration.

"This will enable us to enable all sources of relevant data within our business leading to better informed business decisions, the delivery of hyper-personalised customer service and the acceleration of automation and operational efficiencies through the development of an intelligent manufacturing ecosystem.”

Juergen Maier CBE, chair man of Made Smarter, said: “I am delighted to see the positive impact that Made Smarter’s adoption pilot is having on individuals, businesses, the environment, and the UK economy. In the tumultuous times we face, it can be tempting to simply cut costs rather than invest.

"Yet, in the long term, this approach runs the risk of businesses getting left behind. For the UK manufacturing sector to thrive and become a world leader, we need to find ways to encourage innovation and the adoption of digital technologies.”

Donna Edwards, North West Pilot programme director at Made Smarter, said: “Over the last two years the pilot has proven the value technology can bring to the manufacturing sector.

“We have helped hundreds of North West makers start their digital journey by providing them with specialist advice to help them select the right approach, level of investment and tools for their business.

“We have seen huge success with Made Smarter-supported businesses reporting growth, productivity and efficiency gains, job creation and high-value jobs. We’re also playing a crucial role in helping the UK reach its ambitious aim of net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.

“Reaching 155 funded projects which will support 126 businesses to create over 750 new jobs and up-skill almost 1,600 existing roles is a tremendous achievement.

“We are determined to continue reaching out to the region’s SME manufacturers to connect them to the tools that will make an everyday difference to their businesses. I would encourage manufacturers to contact Made Smarter to ensure they don’t miss out.”