SME manufacturers being supported by the Made Smarter technology adoption programme are upskilling their employees en masse to meet the demands of the latest digital technologies.
The Made Smarter programme has so far worked with more than 1,200 businesses in the North West since 2019, supporting them to introduce digital tools that boost productivity and growth.
Among these, 160 businesses have secured matched funding to use technologies to integrate their systems, capture and analyse data, introduce automation and robotics, and even create simulations of their plants and processes.
These manufacturers are busy upskilling 1,822 roles between them to meet the demands of these emerging technologies and create the teams of tomorrow.
At the same time, business leaders are being supported to navigate the cultural challenges of digitalisation, ensuring their entire team comes along on the journey.
Ruth Hailwood, Made Smarter's specialist organisational and workforce development advisor, said:
“Empowering staff on the front line is vital to a successful digital transformation, so manufacturers need to have, or work to create, a culture that is open to change and looking to grow and innovate.
“This will ensure the buy-in and support of the team, which alongside the right skill sets, good digital leadership, and effective communication, will make sure everyone shares the same vision and people can reap the benefits of using these new tools effectively.”
Made Smarter’s support includes organisation and workforce development (OWD) advice, a leadership programme to equip managers and directors with the skills required, digital technology internships to embed know-how into businesses and digital transformation workshops to identify and overcome the challenges of going digital.
Made Smarter’s own research shows that 8 out of 10 manufacturers believe they could be held back from adopting digital technologies because of gaps in their skills and knowledge.
Aden Dies, a Stockport-based die and tooling manufacturer which has also completed the Hub’s Made for Manufacturing programme, has upskilled 20 of its workforce through Made Smarter’s support. Operations Manager Sarah Poynter said:
“We are a traditional manufacturer, so change can be scary. We are on the journey and starting to see the benefits of educating the whole team, top to bottom. We have also focused on improving leadership and project management skills to help drive our digital transformation and better communicate changes that are essential for [our] organisation. And we have two Made Smarter interns with expertise in additive manufacturing to mentor and share their skills across the business to embed that knowledge.”