The business, which produces 15,000 meals per week for UK nurseries, is one of nine set to introduce 12 advanced manufacturing methods such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 3D-printing and robotics under the Made Smarter North West Pilot.
The £20m investment scheme between government and industry includes match-funding opportunities and the provision of dedicated technical and business support for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
As part of the scheme, the Liverpool-based food manufacturer plans to develop more automated and integrated resource planning, stock control and client ordering, reduce its administrative burden, minimise errors, and comply with increasingly stringent food safety standards.
It also intends to recruit more staff, expand its customer base and launch new ranges. “From cottage industry caterer to food manufacturer, our business has become a victim of its own rapid success,” said Jane Gordon, The Nursery Kitchen sales and marketing manager.
“We recognise that the barrier to more efficient processes and controls, as well as growth and increased productivity, is an absence of integrated digital technologies. The Made Smarter support programme has come along at a crucial moment for the Nursery Kitchen and will help secure its future."
The pilot scheme aims to engage over 3,000 manufacturing SMEs in the north-west and add £115m to the total value of goods and services generated by the region.
Up to 600 north-west firms will qualify for more in-depth support, including mentoring from senior industry figures, a leadership and management programme to help leaders implement digital change and grants for new equipment.
“I am delighted that the Made Smarter pilot has now supported the first successful SME applications including The Nursery Kitchen,” Donna Edwards, director of the Made Smarter North West pilot, said.
“Often, [SMEs] need funding support, but also the specialist advice and insight to help them select the right approach for their business. This is exactly how Made Smarter can and is helping businesses across the region. It’s been interesting to see the range of businesses and sub-sectors the successful applicants have come from and the technologies they have selected.”