A technical textile manufacturer is to adopt industrial digital technologies designed to boost its growth and productivity.
Techtex, based in Middleton, is the latest small and medium sized manufacturer to have secured funding through the Made Smarter programme.
The business, which manufactures products such as wet wipes to non-woven geotextiles for the healthcare and industrial sectors, is among 62 businesses now investing in a range of industrial digital technologies including Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 3D-printing and robotics to solve business challenges across a range of manufacturing functions and deliver an additional £52M in gross value added (GVA) for the North West economy over the next three years.
300 North West SMES have secured support, including specialised advice and GBP 1.6 million of funding, in the first year of the Made Smarter programme.
This support for local manufacturing SMEs includes expert impartial advice and one-to-one support, digital roadmapping workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps to transform their business, eight-month leadership and management training programmes offered in partnership with Lancaster University, as well as funded three-month student placements.
By adopting these cutting-edge technologies, businesses benefit from improved productivity and revenue, increased exports and job creation, providing new skills to workforces, enhanced integration with supply chains and reduced environmental impact.
Donna Edwards, Programme Director for the Made Smarter North West pilot, said: “Over the last year the Made Smarter team has engaged with hundreds of makers from every corner of the region.
“We have found a great enthusiasm about the benefits of adopting new digital technology tempered by uncertainty of how to go about it.
“It’s clear that the SMEs need the specialist advice and insight to help them select the right approach for their business, how much to invest and which technologies will bring the greatest benefits.
“This is exactly how Made Smarter can and is helping businesses across the region.
“Made Smarter is relevant for any North West SMEs employing less than 250 staff who make, create, manufacture or engineer. The interest we have received in the first year has been incredible. I urge local businesses to get in touch and find out how digital technology can transform their business.”
The GBP 20 million pilot programme was launched in November 2018, becoming operational in January 2019, and runs until March 2021.
The pilot will inform how best to support SME manufacturers in the adoption of new industrial digital technologies.
Andrea Thompson, chair of the Made Smarter Commission’s North West Pilot and BAE’s managing director for Europe & International Programmes, said: “We recognise that the move towards advanced technologies can be intimidating, which is why Made Smarter offers a raft of additional support to help manufacturers take that first step.
“This includes guidance on creating an effective digital roadmap to ensure the right technology is taking your business towards digitalisation, drive engagement between industry, universities and research institutes with the student placements programme, and a leadership training programme designed to identify the best digital tools and use them to make everyday improvements to business.”
During its first 12 months a series of successful events in Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington, Lancashire, Cumbria and Liverpool have allowed Made Smarter’s team of expert advisers to connect with businesses operating in a wide-range of sectors including engineering, aerospace, food and beverage, agriculture, steel, chemicals and textiles.
The North West pilot is being overseen by the Made Smarter Commission – a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and industry leaders.
Juergen Maier, former CEO of Siemens and co-chair of the commission, said: “When we launched Made Smarter in November 2018 our ambition was to kick start a new industrial revolution for the manufacturing sector and turn the UK into a world leader in digital technologies.
“I am thrilled that so many manufacturers in the North West have grasped what I believe is a once in a generational opportunity to boost productivity, create high value and highly paid jobs of the future. Our task now is to scale this up and see what other regions can learn from the great work that’s already being done here.”
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.
Made Smarter was formed following a nationwide review into UK manufacturing that recommended key changes: more ambitious leadership; greater innovation in developing new technologies; faster implementation and adoption of these technologies; and deeper understanding of the sector’s skills requirements. We will be boosting digital skills in the sector, bringing businesses and R&D together to develop new technology, and helping makers embrace new digital tools. In doing so, we will inspire the next industrial revolution and make the UK a leader in digital technologies.