Helping to demystify industrial
digitalisation in UK manufacturing

Made Smarter rolls-out leadership programme

09 October, 2020

A leadership programme equipping business leaders with the vision and the skills to pursue smarter manufacturing is being rolled out to leading universities.

The Made Smarter Leadership Programme, developed in partnership with Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), is a blend of workshops, site visits to SME manufacturers who are already on the journey of adopting digital technology, facilitated-learning sessions, and special project sprints to test new ideas.

With 22 leaders already empowered to transform their individual businesses, Lancaster University is readying for its third intake on 22nd October, while the University of Liverpool and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) will begin delivering the programme on November 4 and 12 respectively.

The roll-out gives more SME leaders, based in Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region, the opportunity to learn the strategies to support the adoption of hi-tech and digitally-based manufacturing techniques into their own production processes. It also explores organisational culture and how to engage and enthuse employees and other stakeholders about their digital transformation journey.

Sarah Poynter, operations manager at Arden Dies, the Stockport-based die and tooling manufacturer, has signed up for the programme. She said: “As a company we are at the start of a transformational journey. We have always invested in the best technology and machinery, but there are historic challenges that need our focus if we are to capitalise on the next stage of our growth.

“I was drawn to the Made Smarter Leadership Programme because it combines leading academic expertise with practical activities to apply that knowledge into our business.

“I am looking forward to connecting and collaborating with other leaders from different types of business and learning how they do things.

“Digitalisation should be the focus for all manufacturers and this programme is the perfect place to start.”

With social distancing measures likely to stay in place for the foreseeable future, the programme will initially be delivered predominantly online with a view to move to face-to-face workshops when this is safe to implement.

These include seven workshops led by both academics delivering leading edge thinking and business practitioners demonstrating adoption in real business settings.

Through the programme delegates will also embark on 'sprints' where they would test their ideas with employees from the business to build engagement and learning from each other.

Site visits will also be conducted virtually, until it is safe to do in-person.

For the Lancaster cohort they include Runcorn-based Hosokawa Micron, a manufacturer and supplier of powder processing systems and equipment which has transformed its production performance through the application of digital technologies, and Veka, a Burnley-based manufacturer of PVCu window systems.

The Liverpool cohort will also gain vital insights from visits with Hosokawa Micron as well as The Materials Innovation Factory, the centre of excellence at the University of Liverpool which is part-funded by Unilever and provides a collaborative workspace for academics and industry to share open innovations, robotic tech and digital capabilities to accelerate R&D.

Donna Edwards, director of the Made Smarter North West adoption pilot, said: “The Made Smarter Leadership Programme has been a success story, giving 22 of the region’s leaders the vital tools and insight to accelerate the adoption of advanced digital technologies within their business.

“The roll out of the programme means more SME manufacturers will have the opportunity to take time out of their business to reflect on the bigger picture and share ideas and experiences alongside their peers in manufacturing, and then return to their own business and develop a digital strategy to create growth and efficiencies.”

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