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    A manufacturer from Salford has urged others to follow in their footsteps by adopting technology and digital tools to survive and thrive.

    Businesses from across the region shared their insights at the Made Smarter: journey to digital manufacturing conference which was attended by 300 delegates from across the industry.

    They included Atec Solutions, based in Swinton, which designs, manufactures and repairs complex electronic and electro-mechanical equipment used in the aerospace, defence, nuclear, and oil and gas sectors.

    Andrea Hough, Managing Director and member of the Made Smarter Pilot Steering Group and Made Smarter Commission, was on a panel discussion featuring industry leaders Juergen Maier, Chair of the Digital Catapult and co-Chair of the Made Smarter Commission, Stephen Phipson, the Chief Executive of Make UK, Andrea Hough, Glyn Jones, Service Delivery Director at Lancashire-based BAE Systems and Chair of the Made Smarter Pilot Steering Group, Donna Edwards, Managing Director of the Growth Company and Made Smarter North West Adoption Programme Director, and Matt Ellis, Assistant Director of Made Smarter for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

    She told the conference:



    “We really are a showcase for what Made Smarter can do to help SMEs. 

    “Our first step was a digital transformation workshop to analyse our products, processes and people to see where the challenges and opportunities were. It created a roadmap to adopt digital tools which will create efficiencies and growth over the coming years.

    “Data Systems and Integration is the root of our digital tech strategy. Identifying that data was the key to change was the lightbulb moment. This data has provided the invaluable real-time oversight to assist decision-making.

    “My message to other manufacturing leaders is to encourage you to look outside the business for best practice and create some time in the day to start to implement change and focus on keeping up with digital transformation. None of us are going to survive if we do the same thing day in and day out.”



    Among the other Greater Manchester SME manufacturers to share their insights was Fabricon Design, a specialist in advanced manufacturing methods based in Ashton-under-Lyne, MacKinnon and Saunders, a world’s leading puppet-maker for TV and Film based in Altrincham, DRM Industrial Fabrics, a textile manufacturer based in Bury; Arden Dies, a Stockport-based die and tooling manufacturer; Bindatex, a manufacturer of advanced materials based in Bolton; Crystal Doors, a manufacturer of bespoke vinyl wrapped furniture components based in Rochdale; Creative Apparel, a clothing manufacturer based in Stockport; and Starlight Bedrooms, a furniture manufacturer based in Bolton.

    They are among 1,200 businesses that have engaged with the Made Smarter North West Adoption programme over the last two years

    Now after securing additional funding from the government, Made Smarter is looking to engage with hundreds more manufacturers in the city region, offering matched funded grants towards technology projects; expert, impartial technology advice; digital transformation workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps to transform their business; a leadership programme; and funded digital technology internships.

    Opening the conference Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester praised the role of the Made Smarter North West Adoption Programme in supporting economic growth plans for the region.

    Mr Burnham was among 44 experts and panellists sharing their insights and experiences at the Made Smarter: journey to digital manufacturing conference.

    Addressing 300 delegates at the virtual event, Mr Burnham said:



    “Greater Manchester led the first industrial revolution and there’s no reason why we cannot lead the fourth, that will increase our productivity, clean up our air and our environment and meet our climate targets.

    “The next industrial revolution will look to digitalisation and decarbonisation as twin forces that will shape industry for the rest of this century. Being a leader in both those areas will make this city region a leader globally.

    “Made Smarter brings all these things together and looks at how we would support our traditional manufacturing base to become zero-carbon and fully digital and realise the productivity benefits that will come from that, but also the savings that will come from being more efficient and smarter in the way we operate.”



    Meanwhile, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng underlined the importance of manufacturing through the pandemic and the UK’s drive towards recovery, growth and net zero:


    “Made Smarter has a critically important part to play in all of these targets,” he said. “Industry leaders have made clear that digital technology is vital to recovery and to the growth of UK manufacturing and they are all backing Made Smarter to achieve this.”


    The theme of collaboration was prevalent throughout the conference.

    For more details about Made Smarter visit https://www.madesmarter.uk


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