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New digital skills grow Greater Manchester manufacturing

Two SME leaders become first to complete innovative Made Smarter Leadership Programme, delivered by Lancaster University Management School

Jeremy Kemsley-Pein, of Heatsense Cables in Rochdale, and Jamie Philips, from Fintek in Ramsbottom, are among 10 from the North West who are the first to graduate an innovate programme run in collaboration with Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) and Made Smarter, the industry and government partnership driving manufacturing productivity and growth through digital technology.

The 8-month programme involved a mixture of workshops, site-visits to other manufacturers, including Veka, Hosokawa Micron and Senator, who are already on the journey of adopting digital technology, and special project sprints - delivered by Siemens Digital Industries - to test new ideas.

Delegates unanimously agreed that the programme had given them the impetus to take vital time away from the business to develop the strategic view to support the adoption of hi-tech and digitally-based manufacturing techniques into their own production processes and taught them how to successfully bring employees and other stakeholders along on their digital transformation journey.

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Jeremy on a site visit during the course, with Jamie Phillips and Iain Crosley

Jeremy Kemsley-Pein, Director of Heatsense Cables, a specialist high-performance cable manufacturer, said: “Over the last few years I have heard a lot of talk about Industry 4, digitalisation, factory automation, the Internet of Things, and other jargon, and it is important to keep abreast of all developments in manufacturing.

“I realised that if I was to take Heatsense Cables to the next level I needed to understand what it was all about.

“The Made Smarter programme has helped me develop my entire digitalisation strategy.

“There is no blueprint for a digitalisation strategy for a factory like ours. It's about developing it yourself, finding the building blocks and then putting it all in place.

“This programme has given me a roadmap and a strategic plan. It has given me a very clear idea of what we need to do.

“I've loved the factory visits as you always learn something new. These factories, like us, are at different stages of their own digitalisation strategy.

“Meeting other SME leaders has also been invaluable. We've all come at it from different angles and have been able to share ideas with one another.”

Jamie Philips, Operations Manager at Fintek, an engineering firm specialising in surface finishing, has seen an instant in productivity and efficiency since applying the things he learnt on the course to the business.

He said: “It has really helped my ability to think as a leader rather than as a manager.  It highlighted the importance of good communication within an organisation needs to be at the heart of any change.

“I also learnt that small changes to the way we do things can have a big impact on the business while improving the lives of the workforce.

“The programme helped me apply a value to every process and action within the business. This made me realise how much time was being wasted with duplication on some tasks.”

The programme kicked off with a two-day residential to enable the cohort to get to know each another and introduced the principles behind responsible leadership and what this means to their business.  

Over the course of the eight months delegates attended six workshops led by both academics delivering leading edge thinking and business practitioners demonstrating adoption in real business settings. 

The workshops topics included: setting the strategic context; stakeholder engagement; audit processes; performance management; scoping and leading change; and implementing change.

During the programme, delegates attended three site visits and workshops with manufacturers who have already adopted new technologies.

Through the programme delegates would also embark on 'sprints' where they would test their ideas with another delegates' business to build engagement and learning from each other.

Donna Edwards, Director of the North West Made Smarter pilot, said: “I’m delighted that the Made Smarter Leadership programme has made such a positive impact on the first cohort of business leaders in the North West.

“It has given leaders crucial time out of their business to reflect on the bigger picture and share ideas and experiences alongside their peers in manufacturing. They have been taught about the wide-ranging digital tools available to them and the potential impact they can have on their business’s growth and competitiveness.

“This pioneering group of leaders have been able to create a digitalisation strategy to explore how technology can improve business performance, as well as develop the leadership skills needed to manage operational change and employee expectations.”

Professor Angus Laing, Dean of Lancaster University Management School, said: “The feedback from the first cohort of the Made Smarter leadership programme has been incredibly positive, re-enforcing Lancaster’s outstanding reputation for devising and delivering world-class business leadership development.

“Via a mixture of workshops delivered by academics and experts in the digitalisation and leadership, and site visits to companies, including Veka, Hosokawa Micron and Senator, where delegates were able to see advanced technology in practice, participants have been empowered to transform their individual businesses.”

Registration for the next Leadership Programme is now open. Applicants have until January 29th to apply ahead of induction on February 25th.

For more information or to apply for your place visit or alternatively: email or call 01524 593 881.

Notes to editors:

Companies which completed the leadership programme include: Technoprint in Winsford; DT Engineering in Widnes; Flexitallic in Ellesmere Port; Abbey England in Knutsford; Forth Engineering in Barrow; Primasonics in Penrith; Fintek in Ramsbottom; Heatsense Cables in Rochdale; Forsberg Services in Lancaster; and Milexa in Liverpool.

For all Made Smarter media enquiries contact Stuart Greer, Melanie Antao Fernandes or Andrew Spinoza at SKV Communications on 0161 838 7770 or email, or

About Made Smarter

Made Smarter is the UK national industrial digitalisation movement to drive productivity and growth of manufacturing industries and put the UK at the forefront of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Backed by world-renowned businesses and working in partnership with the UK government, Made Smarter will make a real, everyday difference to people from the boardroom to the factory floor.

The Made North West pilot connects makers to the digital tools that will make an everyday difference to their business. The £20 million partnership between government and industry will provide match-funding, specialist advice, student placements and leadership training. Helping up to 3,000 small and medium-sized businesses – and the people in them – keep their competitive edge. And adding up to £115 million to the region’s economy. For more information, visit

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