Liverpool manufacturers help Made Smarter reach major milestone

Manufacturers in Liverpool City Region are the latest to secure support from Made Smarter’s trailblazing technology adoption programme in the North West, which has marked its third anniversary by helping its 200th business drive growth and decarbonise through digitalisation.

This includes 39 SME manufacturers in the Liverpool City Region who have secured £952k matched funding for 46 projects, worth £3.3M after private sector investment. 

These investments are forecasting the creation of 313 new jobs and 293 upskilled roles, and are forecast to deliver an additional £46.57M in gross value added (GVA) for the Liverpool City Region economy over the next three years. 

Among the latest wave of manufacturers starting their journey to use technology to benefit their business, their bottom line and the environment are: SolidTek, manufacturers of environmentally-friendly chemical systems in Knowsley; and ULEMCo, specialists in hydrogen solutions in Aintree.

Steve Crick, Managing Director of SolidTek, said, “Since starting up in 2016 SolidTek has grown significantly and we desperately needed a system to operate smarter and more efficiently, improve interactions with clients and suppliers and ultimately help us to grow further.

“With the support of Made Smarter we have been able to implement a new bespoke CRM Enterprise Resource Planning system which we will be launching in the next couple of months. It will be such an asset to our business as our client base continues to grow in the UK and Europe.”

ULEMCo adopted new 3D scanning technology to increase the productivity of its design process and mitigate against manufacturing waste to develop a more sustainable product. 

Jordon Cullen, Engineering Design Manager, said, “The 3D scanning equipment has now become an essential technological tool that is utilised in the early stages of the design process, where accuracy is the most fundamental factor in the success of  the final manufactured component.  

“It has reduced a previously manual measuring process from 24 to eight hours and increased accuracy. There has been a significant advancement in the productivity of the design process, allowing us to get to the final product quicker and more efficiently. Meanwhile, we have been able to create a job role for a new graduate design engineer to join ULEMCo’s team.”

Since launching in 2018, Made Smarter has engaged with 1,381 businesses from every corner of the region to help them introduce digital tools and technologies to help boost productivity and growth, navigate Covid-19, and tackle climate change.

670 have reaped the rewards of intensive support including expert, impartial technology advice, 248 have used digital transformation workshops to help take their first steps to transform their business, and 56 business leaders have developed the vision and the skills to pursue smarter manufacturing through the Made Smarter Leadership programme, developed in partnership with Lancaster University. Meanwhile, manufacturers have benefited from funded digital technology internships which offer students and graduates paid placements to work on live technology projects. 

Across the wider North West, Made Smarter’s £4.6M matched funding for 241 projects, worth £16M after private sector investment, will potentially create 1,177 new jobs, 2,205 upskilled roles, and an additional £192.9M in GVA.

Technologies that integrate systems, capture and analyse data, and even create simulations of their plants and processes, are being used to drive efficiencies and reduce waste. Meanwhile, 3D-printing, automation, and robotics are being used to solve business challenges and meet increased demand.

Over 80% of SMEs working with Made Smarter to adopt cutting-edge technologies have seen a boost in productivity, while others have benefited from increase in revenue and exports, job creation and providing new skills to workforces, as well as improved visibility and enhanced integration with supply chains. More than 25% reduced their carbon emissions, while others cut energy bills, reduced waste, and became more environmentally sustainable.

Donna Edwards, Director of the Made Smarter Adoption Programme in the North West, said, “Over the last three years we have worked extremely hard to drive digital technology usage among makers across the North West. We have engaged with 1,381 SMEs in the region to help them 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, as well as upskilling their workforce and creating new high-value jobs. We’re also playing a crucial role in helping the UK grow sustainably and reach its ambitious aim of net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050. 

“Digitalisation enables businesses to find the sustainability sweet spot between these economic, social, and environmental goals. We look forward to continuing our drive to enable hundreds more manufacturers in Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, and Liverpool City Region to learn how digital transformation can help them recover, grow, and create resilience.”

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