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Be Made Smarter

Do you know much about the Made Smarter Leadership programme - and have you considered joining it? If you want to mix with business chiefs from across different sectors to glean insight on smarter manufacturing impacts, perhaps you should.

Want to work smarter? Well, this month (October 2021) the Made Smarter Leadership programme will be running once again, offering SME manufacturers in the North West the opportunity to arm themselves with the vision and the skills to pursue smarter manufacturing.

This will be the sixth cohort of managers and directors to embark on the programme, co-created by Made Smarter and Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), and among the 60 leaders across manufacturing that have already been empowered to transform their business have been a number from the wide-format digital print sector. Many have used knowledge gained from the programme to make an impact on their businesses.

Now, those running SME digital print operations are being encouraged to register their interest for the next two cohort intakes - it’s a tad late for the one starting 7 October, but another begins on 10 November.

The programme takes place over eight months and includes seven workshops, led by both academics delivering leading edge thinking and business practitioners demonstrating adoption in real business settings.

The aim is for participants to gain insight into auditing their business to reveal how digital-ready they currently are, how to measure the true impact and value of any changes they make to the way they work, and how to successfully bring employees and other stakeholders along on their journey of business transformation.

The programme includes site visits to other manufacturers that will demonstrate their journey of adopting digital technology and the impact it is having on their business. These 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 Plc, a Burnley-based manufacturer of PVCu window systems.

Delegates will then embark on special project ‘sprints’ to test new ideas based on real life scenarios in their business.

Learning Forums will provide the opportunity to discuss business challenges in a group setting designed to encourage honest, unbiased, constructive feedback.

The programme also uses peer-to-peer coaching to create a trusted network of leaders, many of which, according the organisers, have remained in close contact after they ‘graduated’.

Professor Angus Laing, Dean of Lancaster University Management School, said: “When we co-created the Leadership Programme with Made Smarter, our hope was to create a space for leaders to build their confidence, capacity and capability, to identify, test and adopt new technologies.

“It has been designed to empower participants to transform their individual businesses through the use of highly advanced manufacturing methods.

“It is clear from the feedback from so many of the leaders from the five cohorts who have now embarked on this programme that they have reaped great benefit from taking vital time away from the business to develop a strategy to adopt hi-tech and digitally-based manufacturing techniques into their own production processes, while bringing employees and other stakeholders along on their digital transformation journey.

“Those who have completed the programme, including those in the digital print sector, have spoken of the benefits of being able to share ideas and experiences alongside their peers in manufacturing. They are reassured that regardless of your size or what you manufacture, organisations have many of the same challenges, and they can learn from each other.”

The Leadership Programme is a key element of the Made Smarter Adoption Programme in the North West, a collaboration between UK Government and industry designed to support the increased use of digital technologies.

Since 2019 it has worked with more than 1,200 businesses, including many in the digital print sector, supporting them to introduce digital tools and technologies to help boost productivity and growth, and navigate the impact of Covid-19.

More than 600 manufacturers have received intensive support including expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps to transform their business, and funded digital technology internships.

154 businesses have secured £3.82m matched funding for 192 projects, leveraging £10.2m of private sector investment.

These projects are forecast to deliver an additional £150m in gross value added (GVA) for the North West economy over the next three years, create over 920 new jobs, and upskill 1,764 existing roles.

Such has the been the success of the North West programme, it has been expanded to the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands regions, meaning more company chiefs can access support to adopt digital tools to increase their growth, productivity, efficiency and create high value, well-paid jobs of the future.

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