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Local manufacturers ‘saving pounds and planet’ with digitisation

SME manufacturers working with Made Smarter have shared their experiences of how digital tools and machinery are helping them to boost growth while cutting their environmental footprint.

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Since its launch in 2019, the Made Smarter technology adoption programme has been helping manufacturers across the North West to adopt cutting-edge digital technologies that improve efficiency and boost profit margins.

Many of these technologies also deliver lower energy use and waste, helping manufacturers to improve their environmental sustainability at the same time.

Marking Earth Day on 22 April, Donna Edwards, North West Adoption Programme Director at Made Smarter, said:

“Manufacturers are facing pressure to become more sustainable from their own employees, customers, the government, investors, and wider communities. Digitalisation offers a huge opportunity for manufacturers to deliver operational efficiencies, decarbonise heat and power, optimise design and materials, and improve logistics and transport, benefitting their business, their bottom line and the environment.”

One example is Stockport-based clothing manufacturer Creative Apparel, which is working with Made Smarter to automate production and develop bespoke AI software to help it respond more efficiently to fast fashion trends.

The company’s ambition is to increase productivity by 30 per cent while reducing waste by a fifth.

Managing Director Phil Millar said:

“The fast fashion industry suffers from a reputation as one of the most damaging to the environment due to the amount of waste generated during the production process and the throw-away nature of many of the products.

“By introducing digital technology and tools that reduce waste and consume less energy we want to prove that you can help save the planet and can save money.”

Creative Apparel’s factory of the future

Elsewhere in Rochdale, vinyl-wrapped furniture components manufacturer Crystal Doors is using a three-month funded intern to implement a network of sensors that will provide new insights into how machines are performing.

Ben Horn, Digital Transformation Manager, explained:

“We have been on a journey towards carbon neutrality since 2015 and are on course to achieve that ambition by 2022. By capturing data from all your operations, you can create a full picture that is not just estimation or guesswork, but cold hard facts that allow you to make informed decisions that enable a more efficient factory and [are] positive for the environment.”

Crystal Door’s carbon neutral plan

More examples of other projects across the North West can be found on the Made Smarter website.


For specialist one-to-one support on improving efficiency and environmental impact across your entire business, contact our Resource Efficiency team.

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