The digital adoption white paper titled “Made Smarter Technologies: Powering the Digital Transformation of SME Manufacturers” serves as a practical resource for manufacturers keen on exploring a spectrum of technologies, including software, industrial IoT, automation and robotics, 3D printing, and cybersecurity.

It also aims to shed light on emerging digital tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and digital twins.

Donna Edwards, director of Made Smarter’s North West Adoption Programme, said: “We are enabling people to get their hands on these technologies by connecting SME manufacturers with each other and building relationships with leading technology institutes. This way we can ensure we keep a finger on the pulse of emerging technologies to help the sector thrive and be competitive.”

The digital adoption white paper has gathered support from esteemed institutions collaborating with Made Smarter, including:

The North of England Robotics Innovation Centre (NERIC) – University of Salford

NERIC is a new £16m facility in Salford, consisting of three laboratories that demonstrate how robotics and automation can solve real-world business challenges.

“NERIC has established itself as a key collaborator in the business ecosystem in Greater Manchester and the wider region,” said business development manager Tabs Khojani. “We have developed a strong connection with Made Smarter to help signpost SME manufacturers towards business support and grant funding opportunities.

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“NERIC and Made Smarter share the view that the benefits of adopting robotics and automation in the manufacturing sector are clear. Automation can help to address skills shortages, improve quality and efficiency, increase productivity, and gain a competitive advantage.”

PrintCity – Manchester Metropolitan University

PrintCity’s 3D printing facility has been instrumental in supporting over 200 SMEs to develop new products and services while nurturing essential 3D design, scanning, and printing skills among students.

Collaborating closely with Made Smarter, PrintCity has delivered innovative training projects through initiatives like the Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund and Leadership programmes.

Professor Carl Diver, director of PrintCity, emphasised the importance of demystifying 3D printing to enhance productivity and growth within businesses.

He added: “Our multidisciplinary team has cultivated a strong partnership with Made Smarter to deliver innovation workshops which demonstrate to SME manufacturers that 3D printing can introduce unprecedented efficiency, flexibility, and innovation.

“We are delighted to support this new white paper to educate and inspire technology adoption among SME manufacturers.”

The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) – Liverpool

The MTC, part of the High-Value Manufacturing Catapult, provides a “high-quality environment” for the development and demonstration of new technologies. On an industrial scale, it also supports skills, productivity and growth across the UK manufacturing industry.

Mark Sutherberry, senior business development manager commented: “We share Made Smarter’s belief that SMEs are the beating heart of UK Manufacturing.

“Our SME support team has been formed to work directly with a business, whether a budding entrepreneur or start-up, going through scale-up pains or maturing into a larger established SME. Together we can draw on the extensive resources of the MTC to address your practical, technical, and strategic manufacturing challenges.”

The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) – Samlesbury, Lancashire

AMRC focuses on driving innovation and research into advanced manufacturing technologies. The centre provides research and development to manufacturers driven by the goal of increasing innovation across the wider region, working closely with the extended SME supply chains.

Iain Martin, senior engagement manager at AMRC NW said the centre’s R&D capabilities are available to any manufacturer that wants to reduce waste, raise productivity, improve quality and make the low-carbon transition while moving up the value chain.

He added: “Made Smarter is a vital part of the technology adoption ecosystem in the North West. We are proud to support this new white paper to educate and inspire technology adoption among SME manufacturers.”

The Hartree Centre at Sci-Tech -Daresbury, Cheshire

The Hartree Centre helps businesses explore and adopt supercomputing, data science, and AI technologies for enhanced productivity, predictive maintenance, data-driven decision-making and economic growth.

It also serves as a collaborator in the Smart Manufacturing Data Hub, aiding SME manufacturers to become more competitive by harnessing the power of their data.

Francis Lee, business development manager at the Hartree Centre, touched on their commitment to supporting SME manufacturers in harnessing the power of digital solutions for societal and economic benefit.

Since its inception, Made Smarter has facilitated significant investments in technology adoption, resulting in tangible benefits for manufacturers, including job creation, upskilling, and economic growth.

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