University of Salford business development managers Stephanie West (left) and Tabs Khojani   2100x1400

Source: Made Smarter

University of Salford business development managers Stephanie West (left) and Tabs Khojani

Made Smarter and leading technology demonstrators in the North West have joined forces on a new white paper to help demystify digital transformation for small and medium food and drink manufacturers.

The free guide, entitled ‘Made Smarter technologies: powering the digital transformation of SME manufacturers’, aims to inform and inspire businesses such as craft bakeries that are considering adopting existing technologies to enhance production. This includes through the likes of software, industrial IoT, automation and robotics, 3D printing, and cyber security, while it also showcases emerging tools such as AI and digital twins.

Digital twins offer a virtual replica of physical processes, products, or services, allowing SMEs to simulate and analyse their manufacturing processes in a virtual environment before implementing them in the real world.

Made Smarter is a government-backed and industry-led programme that has supported manufacturers reap the rewards of technology adoption. Several companies are highlighted in the white paper, while we have previously reported on Studio Bakery and Chandley Ovens securing financial backing from Made Smarter to kickstart their digital journeys.

Working closely with Made Smarter on the creation of the white paper are five different North West tech institutions, which are featured as Industry Spotlights. They include:

  • North of England Robotics Innovation Centre (NERIC) – the University of Salford’s new £16m state-of-the-art facility
  • PrintCity – Manchester Metropolitan University’s 3D printing facility
  • Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) – part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult in Liverpool
  • Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) North West – based in Samlesbury, Lancashire
  • The Hartree Centre – part of Sci-Tech Daresbury in Cheshire

Since it was launched six years ago, PrintCity has supported over 200 SMEs to develop new products, goods, and services, as well as supporting students to learn essential 3D design, scanning and printing skills. “PrintCity is here to help demystify 3D printing to help boost productivity and growth within a business,” said PrintCity director Professor Carl Diver.

“Our multidisciplinary team has cultivated a strong partnership with Made Smarter to deliver innovation workshops which demonstrates to SME manufacturers that 3D printing can introduce unprecedented efficiency, flexibility, and innovation. We are delighted to support this new white paper to educate and inspire technology adoption among SME manufacturers,” Diver added.

“Automation can help to address skills shortages, improve quality and efficiency, increase productivity, and gain a competitive advantage”

NERIC consists of three laboratories showcasing how robotics and automation can address real-world business problems.

Tabs Khojani, Business Development Manager at the University of Salford, said: “NERIC has established itself as a key collaborator in the business ecosystem in Greater Manchester and the wider region. We have developed a strong connection with Made Smarter to help signpost SME manufacturers towards business support and grant funding opportunities.

“NERIC and Made Smarter share the view that the benefits of adopting robotics and automation in the manufacturing sector are clear. Automation can help to address skills shortages, improve quality and efficiency, increase productivity, and gain a competitive advantage.”

The Hartree Centre, meanwhile, is helping businesses and organisations explore and adopt supercomputing, data science and AI technologies for enhanced productivity, predictive maintenance, data-driven decision-making, and economic growth. It is also a leading partner in the Smart Manufacturing Data Hub, supporting SME manufacturers to become more competitive by harnessing the power of their data.

AMRC North West is part of a cluster of world-class centres for innovation and research into advanced manufacturing technologies. Its research and development capabilities are accessible to any manufacturer that wants to reduce waste, raise productivity, improve quality, and make the low-carbon transition while moving up the value chain.

Finally, the MTC provides a high-quality environment for the development and demonstration of new technologies on an industrial scale, supporting skills, productivity and growth across the UK manufacturing industry.

Donna Edwards, director of Made Smarter’s North West Adoption Programme, noted how vital it was for them to demonstrate technology in action. “We are enabling people to get their hands on these technologies by connecting SME manufacturers with each other and building relationships with leading technology institute,” she commented. “This way we can ensure we keep a finger on the pulse of emerging technologies to help the sector thrive and be competitive.

“This new white paper brings all those elements together into a useful and simple to understand guide which business leaders and digital champions can download and share with their teams. We hope it is the starting point for further conversations with the Made Smarter team.”

The white paper is available as a free-to-download PDF via the Made Smarter website.

Last year, Made Smarter unveiled a guide to help SMEs become net zero.