Tameside businesses get Smarter

TWO firms have helped a programme designed to boost the adoption of technology achieve supporting 200 businesses.

Ashton’s Star Cutouts and Denton’s Manchester Manufacturing Group have both joined the Made Smarter initiative, which helped companies drive growth and decarbonise through digitalisation.

The former, which as the name suggests is a manufacturer of lifesize cardboard cut-outs based on South Street, is among the latest wave of manufacturers starting their journey to use technology to benefit their business, their bottom line and the environment.

Donna Edwards, Programme Director at Made Smarter North West Adoption programme

The latter, based on Holland Street and which makes window blind and commercial matting products, has already experienced the benefits of Made Smarter support and is taking the next step in its digitalisation journey.

Managing director Paul Noone said the business worked with the initiative to develop a strategy to deliver digital transformation and identified two key areas for innovation through technology.

He said: “Firstly, the adoption of 3D printing technology will enable us to prototype window blind designs, while software will integrate our customer’s online e-commerce platform with our ERP system.

“This investment has sped up our prototyping and improved data flow through the supply chain, freeing up the workforce from more mundane tasks and to take on more highly skilled activities.

“A second project has introduced a wide-format water based ink printer system for wallpaper with a unique modification for inline trimming.

“This process has shorted the production process and capitalised on shifting consumer habits towards online buying.

Paul Noone, Manchester Manufacturing Group Managing Director

“With the help of Made Smarter we have been able to accelerate our digital transformation and drive forward our product development programme to achieve customer objectives whilst remaining environmentally responsible, in methods, materials, packaging and waste.”

Currently, 49 small or medium enterprise manufacturers (SMEs) in Greater Manchester have secured £1.1 million matched funding for 63 projects, worth £3.8 million after private sector investment.

These investments are forecasting the creation of 264 new jobs and 436 upskilled roles, and are forecast to deliver an additional £44.5 million in gross value added (GVA) for the regional economy over the next three years.

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.

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.”

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