Denton made smarter through technology

TWO Denton businesses are among 25 Greater Manchester firms which have signed up for support through Made Smarter, an initiative to encourage and promote digital technology.

The latest Greater Manchester SMEs to secure funding include Denton firms Manchester Manufacturing Group and Lazerian.

In the case of Lazerian, Made Smarter has funded 50 per cent of the cost so company owner and artist Liam Hopkins can integrate robotics into his production methods.He creates one-off sculptures which are displayed in galleries all around the world from Moscow to Milan and Manchester while his work is also in private collections. He also produced the Marketing Manchester garden at the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Liam, who formed his company 14 years ago in an unit at Woodend Mill, Mossley, and has two full-time employees and others on a freelance basis, said: “Integrating robotics into production methods will enable us to push the boundaries.

“It is exciting and a case of combining traditional hand-crafted techniques with new technology and bridging the gap.”

The robot is called ABB and in a previous life was used to trim panels in a car manufacturing plant.

Made Smarter, the movement helping SMEs join the Industry 4.0 revolution, has reached a major milestone having now funded more than 100 businesses, including 25 in Greater Manchester.

The North West technology adoption pilot is working with small and medium-sized manufacturers to help them introduce digital tools and technologies to help boost productivity and growth, as well as navigate the impact of Covid-19.

Almost 950 SME manufacturers have secured support, including specialised advice and £2.5 million of funding, since the launch of Made Smarter 18 months ago.

This support includes expert, impartial technology advice, digital road mapping workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps to transform their business, leadership development programme developed in partnership with Lancaster University, and funded digital technology internships.

One hundred and four of the businesses have now secured matched funding for 115 projects and are forecast to deliver an additional £100m in gross value added (GVA) for the North West economy over the next three years.

Some manufacturers are developing projects using 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.

By adopting cutting-edge technologies, these businesses are benefitting from improved productivity and revenue, increased exports and job creation, an upskilled workforce, lower energy bills, and a reduced carbon footprint.

Donna Edwards, programme director for the Made Smarter North West pilot, said: “Reaching 104 business and 115 funded projects is a fantastic achievement – and there is much more to come.

“Over the last 18 months the Made Smarter team has engaged with hundreds of makers from every corner of the region offering specialist advice about the benefits to adopting new digital technology.

“I am thrilled that so many firms of all sizes have tapped into our expertise to help them select the right approach for their business, how much to invest and which technologies will bring the greatest benefits.

“The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on manufacturing and resulted in widespread repercussions for the economy. Manufacturers have reacted and adapted to the different circumstances they find their businesses facing and technology has been at the heart of that response.

“While there is uncertainty, what is clear is that Made Smarter is needed more than ever to help SMEs maintain their competitive edge using technology to come back smarter and navigate the future.”

Other businesses previously revealed to have secured funding include Ashton’s Fabricon Design and Tibard, from Dukinfield.

Made Smarter is the UK national industrial digitalisation movement to drive productivity and growth of manufacturing industries

Backed by world-renowned businesses and working in partnership with the UK Government, Made Smarter will make a real, everyday difference to people from the boardroom to the factory floor.

Made Smarter was formed following a nationwide review into UK manufacturing that recommended key changes: more ambitious leadership, greater innovation in developing new technologies, faster implementation and adoption of these technologies, and deeper understanding of the sector’s skills requirements.

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