Wirral firms benefit from ‘Made Smarter’ programme

FIVE manufacturers from Wirral are the latest to secure support from a programme helping manufacturers boost productivity and growth using digital tools.

Heap & Partners, based in Birkenhead, SFL Mobile Radio in Bromborough, and C.A.E. Services in Wallasey, have received the backing of the Made Smarter Adoption programme in the North West.

Meanwhile, Generation Juice and Machfab Engineering – both Birkenhead based – who have already experienced the benefits of the government-funded and industry-led programme are now taking the next step on their digitalisation journeys. 

It means that the programme has reached a major milestone, having now backed its 200th technology project.

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 35 businesses in Liverpool City Region which have secured grants worth £898,000 for 42 technology projects, valued at £3.2M 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.

SFL Mobile Radio, a communication specialist based in Bromborough, has invested in two new pieces of technology for its Sure Antennas division, which focuses on the design and manufacture of vehicle antennas predominately used for emergency service vehicles.

Laurence Culloty, Marketing Manager, said, “Working with Made Smarter we have been able to overcome two significant challenges. 

“The first was to digitalise a manual process of applying labels to our antenna cables which was creating a bottleneck in an otherwise efficient production process. Our new labelling machine is forecast to save over 850 work-hours a year and allow our workforce to be utilised to carry out more skilled and valuable tasks.

“The second part of the project was to invest in a new Antenna Test Kit. This has enabled us to upgrade our testing capabilities for emerging frequencies such as 5G and target new export markets. We now have cloud-based data which can be shared and accessed remotely by our onsite engineers, improving our efficiency.”

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 Liverpool City Region 270 new jobs will be created, 248 existing roles will be upskilled, and an additional £39.1M in gross value added (GVA) for the region’s economy.

David Millar, Managing Director of Heap & Partners Ltd (pictured), a manufacturer and distributor of fluid control equipment from instrumentation products to process valves, said, “Made Smarter has supported us all the way with our project which aims to introduce QR codes and cloud-based technology into our manufacturing process.

“Our hope is that the investment will accelerate our growth plans and create two new jobs. I would highly recommend any SME manufacturing or engineering business speak to Made Smarter.”

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.

For more information, visit www.madesmarter.uk

Image: Top left: David Millar, Managing Director of Heap & Partners Ltd, Top right: Laurence Culloty, Marketing Manager, SFL Mobile Radio, Bottom left: Generation Juice, Bottom Right: Machfab Engineering

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