SMALL and medium sized manufacturers in Warrington have invested to adopt new technologies, in the first year of the Made Smarter programme.

The Made Smarter north west pilot is working with SMEs to help them introduce digital tools and technologies to help boost productivity and growth supported by £250,000 of funding.

This support for manufacturing SMEs includes expert advice and one-to-one support, digital roadmapping workshops, eight-month leadership and management training programmes in partnership with Lancaster University, as well as funded three-month student placements.

Sixty two of the businesses supported with specialist technology advice, including Croft Additive Manufacturing, have also secured matched funding, and with this support forecast to deliver an additional £52 million in gross value added for the north west economy in the next three years.

SME applicants are developing projects involving a range of industrial digital technologies, including data analytics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, industrial internet of things, 3D-printing and robotics to solve business challenges across a range of manufacturing functions.

By adopting these cutting-edge technologies, these 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.

Andy Devaney, director of business innovation at Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said “Made Smarter has helped a huge range of manufacturers in their digitisation journey across the north west.

“This year we have seen eight businesses from Cheshire and Warrington move towards digital operations in their manufacturing.

“As a result of the support these businesses have embraced new types of technologies and advanced processes.”

Donna Edwards, programme director for the Made Smarter north west pilot, said: “In 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 businesses to get in touch and find out how digital technology can transform their business.”