New figures from the Made Smarter initiative reveal 35 Liverpool city region firms are introduce digital tools and technologies to 269 workers under the programme. Tony McDonough reports
Manufacturers in the Liverpool city region are upskilling 269 workers with the help of the Made Smarter initiative, new figures reveal.
Made Smarter is a national, Government-backed programme which, since 2019, has worked with more than 1,200 Merseyside and. North West businesses. It supports them to introduce digital tools and technologies to help boost productivity and growth.
Among these, 160 businesses have secured matched funding to develop projects using technologies which enable them to integrate systems, capture and analyse data, and even create simulations of their plants and processes.
Others are using 3D-printing, automation, and robotics to solve business challenges and meet increased demand. They are upskilling 1,822 roles to meet the demands of these emerging technologies and ensure successful digital transformation. They include 35 Liverpool city Region businesses upskilling 269 jobs.
SME leaders are also navigating the cultural challenges of digitalisation. These include:
- Good digital leadership.
- Bringing the team along on the journey.
- Effective communication of the benefits of change.
- Capturing the technical skills and know-how of older workers before they leave the industry.
- Attracting new digital talent into the organisation; and plugging skills gaps.
Made Smarter is supporting manufacturers in a variety of ways to meet these challenges.These include organisation and workforce development advice to enhance business performance through people, and a leadership programme designed to equip managers and directors with the strategic view and the skills they need.
Digital technology internships are helping embed digital natives with fresh perspectives into a business, while digital transformation workshops can identify the challenges associated with going digital and develop a bespoke roadmap for technology implementation.
Knowsley engineering company owner Rod Wah joined Beverston Engineering in 1978 and, in an interview with LBN in April, said businesses needed to invest in people and new technology if they are to survive.
He explained: “Before the pandemic we had already started a project to digitise our processes under what is being called the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. With the support of the Future Innovation Fund and Made Smarter we are now analysing data from our machinery.”
Brainboxes an electronics manufacturer based in Liverpool, was supported by Made Smarter in the adoption of robotics. Luke Walsh, managing director, said: “There was scepticism among our production staff about what a robot would do to their livelihoods.
“But the Made Smarter team were extremely good at helping us understand what the benefit was and communicate that to our workforce. Now my production staff aren’t saying to me ‘the robot has taken my job’ but suggesting where the technology could also be adopted.”
Ruth Hailwood, organisational and workforce development specialist adviser for Made Smarter, added: “Choosing and implementing the right technologies and solutions is only one part of digitalisation.
“Technologies are tools, but digitalisation is all about connecting systems and processes and sharing data to inform decisions made by people. Empowering staff on the front line is vital to a successful digital transformation.”