Food manufacturers adopt industry 4.0 via Made Smarter

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

A worker at Len Wright Salads
A worker at Len Wright Salads

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Potato producer Fylde Fresh and Fabulous, chocolate manufacturer Ye Olde Friars and cake and pudding maker Classic Desserts are among the latest businesses to sign up to the north west Made Smarter Adoption programme.

The scheme helps businesses boost productivity and growth using digital tools.

Meanwhile, Tarleton-based salad producer Len Wright Salads and Burscough-based natural protein bar maker Nutree Life, who have already benefited from the government funded and industry-led programme, are pushing ahead with second digitalisation projects.

Since 2019 Made Smarter has supported 161 businesses with £3.9M matched funding for 201 projects, drawing on £10.5M of private sector investment.

3D printing, automation and robotics

Some manufacturers are developing projects using emerging 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. 

Made Smarter is forecast to create 990 new jobs, give 1,845 existing workers new skills and deliver an additional £162.4M in gross value added (GVA) for the economy in the north west of England. 

Donna Edwards, programme director for the Made Smarter Adoption programme in the North West, said: “Surpassing the milestone of 200 funded technology projects is a significant achievement for the Made Smarter adoption programme in the North West - and there is much more to come.

Industry 4.0 is the future

“Industry 4.0 is the future of manufacturing. Through it, the entire sector can reap endless rewards that will ultimately lead to considerable – and sustainable – growth. But upgrading to new technologies can seem like a complex and daunting task, and SMEs can miss out on significant improvements to their operations. 

“Over the last two and half years we have developed a programme of wide-ranging support which cuts through the jargon to provide honest, impartial advice to help businesses identify the most effective digital tools, innovation and skills needed to make an everyday difference to their operations."

Since 2019 Made Smarter has engaged with 1,266 businesses in the region to help them introduce digital tools and technologies to help boost productivity and growth and navigate the impact of COVID-19.

Intensive support

A total of 618 manufacturers have received intensive support. This has included expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps to transform their business, a leadership programme and funded digital technology internships. 

More than 80% of small and medium-sized enterprises working with Made Smarter to adopt cutting-edge technologies have seen a boost in productivity, and more than 25% reduced their carbon emissions. Businesses will also benefit from increased revenue, profits and exports, and lower energy bills, according to organisers of the initiative.

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