Smart manufacturing programme underway for crane maker

4 October 2019

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UK-based crane manufacturer DT Engineering is taking part in a leadership programme designed to provide skills and knowledge required to employ ‘smart’ manufacturing techniques.

Gerry Weston, electrical operations director at Widnes-based DT Engineering, is part of the Made Smarter Leadership Programme, a scheme run in collaboration with Lancaster University Management School and the government-backed £20m Made Smarter initiative for manufacturers in the north-west of England.

The eight-month leadership programme will see 12 business leaders from across the region take part in workshops, site visits to ‘smart’ SME manufacturers, and facilitated learning sessions, focused on the approaches required to adopt high-tech and digital-based manufacturing techniques into their own production processes.

The programme will also provide insight into undertaking an audit of how digital-ready existing businesses are, how to measure the impact and value of any changes made to working methods, and how to successfully bring employees and other stakeholders into the process.

The first site visit carried out by members of the programme was to Runcorn-based Hosokawa Micron Ltd, a manufacturer and supplier of powder processing systems and equipment which has transformed its production performance through the application of digital technologies, allowing them to see a smart factory in action.

Weston said: “Forming a digital strategy is something we are looking at as a business and this course is helping with that.

“The key things I have learnt so far is that digital transformation can’t be done overnight. It’s a gradual process.

“It is also a journey that goes beyond the usual soundbites about Industry 4.0 and terms like VR, AR and robotics. There are simple processes in a vast pool that you can take on board to make a difference to your business.”

Donna Edwards, director of the North West Made Smarter pilot, said: “I’m delighted to see that the Made Smarter Leadership Programme delivered by Lancaster University Management School is already having a positive impact on its first cohort of business leaders in the North West.

“The programme is a unique opportunity for manufacturers who want to accelerate the adoption of advanced digital technologies within their business.

“Crucially, it allows leaders to take time out of their business to reflect on the bigger picture and share ideas and experiences alongside their peers in manufacturing. This will help them return to their own business and develop a digital—which has been identified as something many businesses lack, yet it is essential to create growth and efficiencies.”

Professor Angus Laing, Dean of Lancaster University Management School, said: “Lancaster has an outstanding track record in devising and delivering world-class business leadership training. Many of the successful methods we have developed have been embedded into this new programme and tailored specifically to address the aspirations of the Made Smarter initiative.

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

Andrew Stephenson, Minister for Business and Industry, said: “This new collaboration between Made Smarter and Lancaster University is a fantastic opportunity for these 12 business leaders to develop their skills, get expert guidance and advance further the North West’s reputation for advanced and smart manufacturing.

“Supporting growing business directly on the ground through Made Smarter is a vital part of our modern Industrial Strategy, building on this country’s strong manufacturing heritage and delivering highly-skilled jobs for the future.

“With the Made Smarter pilot set to add up to £115million to the North West economy, I look forward to seeing how the 12 business leaders completing this course will transform and grow their companies as a result.”