Hoylake firms prepare for digital future with leadership programmes

Digital leaders in Liverpool City Region are among 125 now armed with the vision, skills and drive to pursue smarter manufacturing through Made Smarter’s innovative leadership programmes.

Happy Drinks Group in Bootle, Majas Switchgear in St. Helens, Maap Studio Art & Design in Hoylake, and Nutexa Frictions, also based in Hoylake, all graduated from the Leading Digital Transformation (LDT) programme. 

It is funded by Made Smarter, a government-funded industry-led initiative to increase technology adoption among SME manufacturers. 

LDT, which is delivered over three months with Manchester Metropolitan University, blends face-to-face workshops, online webinars, case studies to see technology in action, and a site visit to PrintCity, Manchester Met’s 3D additive and digital manufacturing centre.

Since last year, the programme has turned 34 delegates into digitally-informed, empowered leaders, armed with a bespoke digitalisation strategy.

Made Smarter also runs a Leading Change for Digital Champions (LCDC) programme, delivered using a bite-size, blended approach consisting of two face-to-face workshops, online coaching, a site visit to an SME manufacturer to see the impact of digital change first-hand, as well as a chance to see the latest digital technologies at an Amazon fulfilment centre.

The programme has so far created a network of 29 advocates to guide others and support the impactful and lasting changes digital technologies will bring. 

This is in addition to the 62 business leaders equipped with new digital skills through Made Smarter’s trailblazing leadership initiative run between 2019 and 2023.

Manufacturers across the North West are now being encouraged to register their interest  for the next series of programmes.

Janet Sergeant, Joint Managing Director of Nutexa Frictions Ltd, a manufacturer of commercial brake linings, disc brake pads and associated products, based in Hoylake, said: “The leadership programme has been well worth the journey. Being able to mix with leaders at such a variety of decision-making levels has given me an insight into how digital transformation impacts the whole business.

“Spending three months engaging with peers from manufacturing companies I have also taken away a raft of new ideas which could add value to our business.”

Andrezej Skrzypkowski, co-founder of Maap Studio Art & Design, a manufacturer of ceramic wall art, porcelain wall sculptures, and architectural ceramic installations, based in Hoylake, said, “Through the leadership programme we identified areas of the business where different technologies can drive innovation, enhance efficiency, and create new business opportunities. 

“We have made significant changes in our practices and process through the programme. For instance we’ve integrated AI and digital technology that enhanced our customer-centric approach and sustainability focus. 

“This programme has highlighted the importance of digital literacy, an agile mindset, collaborative innovation, strategic planning, and how technology impacts on people. We believe this as a whole has given us a better understanding of digital transformation.”

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. It has also supported 284 businesses with skills and leadership advice and training.

Ruth Hailwood, Made Smarter’s Organisation and Workforce Development Specialist Adviser, said, “Made Smarter has taken a people-first approach to helping SME manufacturers adopt technology tools to take their businesses forward. Technology tools bring change to the way day-to-day work is done and this change needs to be led to make sure the people in the business are ready to use these tools to maximise the benefits for the business and realise the potential of their people.

“Our Leading Digital Transformation programme and Leading Change for Digital Champions programmes work hand in hand to support SME manufacturers to take their entire organisation and people through digital transformation successfully and maximise the opportunities for their business.  

“Ultimately, accelerating changes to leadership and skills within the industry, especially with SMEs, will make the biggest difference to achieving successful digital transformation and reaping the benefits for UK manufacturing economically, socially and environmentally.”

To learn more about how Made Smarter supports SME manufacturers to become digital leaders download the Made Smarter white paper

Image: Graduates of Made Smarter’s leading digital transformation programme 2024

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