Nine pioneering companies, including a puppet-maker in Trafford and a 50-year-old engineering firm in Nelson, have become the first to benefit from unique support to adopt digital technology.
Based in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region, the nine companies are set to introduce 12 advanced manufacturing methods into their operations, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 3D printing and robotics.
The firms are the first to join Made Smarter, a government programme designed to boost UK manufacturing productivity and growth through the adoption of digital technology.
In Greater Manchester, Altrincham-based animator and puppet-maker Mackinnon & Saunders is using the support to embrace the very latest developments in additive manufacturing and innovative software solutions.
The company is behind some of the most beloved animated children’s characters - including Bob the Builder, Postman Pat and Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox - and will use the new technologies to increase the quality and accuracy of its models.
Three Lancashire firms are accessing the support, including Graham Engineering Ltd (GEL), which specialises in the welding and fabrication of complex stainless steel solutions for the nuclear, aerospace, health and security sectors.
By investing in digital technology to integrate software with its high-tech equipment, GEL aims to streamline workflow through its factory from order to shipping.
In the Liverpool City Region four companies are onboard, including Applied Nutrition in Knowsley, which designs and manufactures diet and exercise supplements for athletes. It wants to speed up production and improve its stock management, having identified opportunities to use robotics, process control automation, IoT, Big Data and analytics.
The other companies to benefit are Preston-based farm products supplier Envirosystems, aerospace parts producer T&R Precision Engineering in Colne; crane and lifting equipment manufacturer DT Engineering North West in Widnes; veterinary implants and instrumentation firm Fusion Implants in Liverpool; Birkenhead-based food manufacturer The Nursery Kitchen; and steel engineering firm Abbey Group in Knowsley.
Donna Edwards, Director of the Made Smarter North West pilot, said:
“I am delighted that the Made Smarter pilot has now supported the first successful SME applications. 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.
“Made Smarter is relevant for any North West SMEs employing less than 250 staff who make, create, manufacture or engineer and I urge local businesses not to miss this opportunity. Register today for a fully-funded audit of your operations.”