Made Smarter, the government scheme helping SMEs to adopt digitalisation and automation, has now provided funding for 241 projects. £4.6m in funding has been matched in a bid to future-proof the manufacturing market. The programme has made waves, particularly in the food-producing industry.
The Made Smarter scheme includes investing in technologies that assist companies in managing complex and data-heavy processes both on the factory floor and at the retail level through automation. It was originally launched in the North West, where it is forecast to generate £190m in GVA, and has recently been rolled out across Yorkshire, the North East and the West Midlands. It is predicted that nearly 1,200 new jobs and over 2,200 upskilled roles will be created as a result of investment in the SMEs.
Two recent companies that have signed up to the scheme include Kendal Nutricare, a producer of infant nutrition products such as baby foods and formulas, and Dewlay Cheesmakers, a Garstang based cheese producer.
Grant Remington, the projects and contracts manager at Kendal Nutricare, spoke about the positive impact of Made Smarter’s digital intern scheme, where the firm employed a data analyst: “The internship through Made Smarter was a roaring success. He analysed our site data highlighting areas to improve. Made Smarter then supported us to invest in a data and systems project for a new ERP system to control the site, monitor stock levels and give the business an enriched way to forecast, which we have started to implicate.”
Dewlay Cheesemakers recently invested in a new Enterprise Resource Planning system which allowed it to manage its factory effectively. The stock and flow of various processes such as purchasing, production scheduling, sales and bill of materials are managed via touch screens and mobile scanners.
Financial Controller at Dewlay, Ben Ardern, commented: “This has allowed us to greatly improve our traceability of our products, as well as having up to date production information and more accurate stock. The data captured also allows the business to better see factory efficiencies and yields.
The funding from Made Smarter allowed the business to look at a wider range of product offerings and choose the system that was the best fit for the business. Without this, and the uncertainty that the pandemic brought, the business may not have taken the plunge to make such a wide impacting change.”
Co-chair of Made Smarter, Juergen Maier, reflected on the impact of investing in North West firms: “We launched Made Smarter in the North West three years ago with the ambitious aim to kick start and adoption programme for digital technologies among small and medium-sized enterprises, strengthened by leadership training and harnessing talent within universities.
It is clear from the unequivocal success we are seeing in the North West, and the positive effect adoption programmes in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, and the North East are having that we are starting to grasp the multitude of opportunities that innovation and digital technologies offer. It is clear that for the UK manufacturing sector to thrive and become a world lead, we now need to roll out Made Smarter nationwide and with a stronger ambition.”