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Business support75% Made Smarter supported businesses adopt technology to enhance data collection and...

75% Made Smarter supported businesses adopt technology to enhance data collection and analysis

Greater Manchester SME are putting data and systems integration at the heart of their productivity and growth plans.

Handrail Creations, based in Bolton, W Howard, in Astley, and Antonelli Brothers in Irlam are among 13 that have received funding through the Made Smarter North West Industry 4.0 adoption pilot and are now embracing industrial digital technologies which connect their disparate systems and unify data residing in different sources.

This includes Integrating a variety of systems and consolidating data sources allows business leaders to spot trends in production and labour, correct maintenance and quality issues, and minimise safety, business risk and operational downtime throughout their production. The benefits of these can be seen in the entire supply chain eco-system.

Among those businesses using data and systems integration technologies to achieve digital transformation and gain a competitive edge, are Handrail Creations which creates one-off pieces for clients such as the US Embassy, the Houses of Parliament and celebrity homes.

With support from Made Smarter, it has invested in a new handheld scanner and software designed to integrate with its systems which it forecasts will improve its overall processing speed by 25%, improve efficiency, improve productivity and support growth plans which include creating two new jobs.

Kenny Macfarlane, managing director, said: “While the new equipment will speed up the scanning process and reduce survey time, the real benefit will be in the processing speed, converting the data into something that is usable for our design team.

“With more than 70 live projects being managed at any one time and 75% per cent of surveys done using a 3D scanner, we are looking at saving a lot of man hours.

“It will increase our efficiency, but more importantly it will reduce the chance of error, ensuring that our bespoke products are right first time.”

SMEs from various manufacturing sectors have invested in other advanced technologies to solve their business challenges.

Almost 25% (20) of manufacturers are adopting Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) using sensors to collect critical production data to gain valuable insights about the efficiency of operations. More than 20% (17) of SMEs are adopting robotics and process control automation and 15% (13) are focussed on big data and analytics technologies. Meanwhile, other businesses are investing in 3Dprinting (6), artificial intelligence (2), augmented and virtual reality (5), and cyber security (2).

Donna Edwards, programme director for the Made Smarter North West, said: “Data and analytics are central to the 4th Industrial Revolution, so I am extremely pleased that so many SME manufacturers are putting data at the heart of their own digitalisation journeys.

“Capturing the data from across their processes and bringing it all together in one place is a vital first step for many manufacturers looking to solve problems and recognise opportunities. Simultaneously, many of these SMEs are also deploying sensors in their factories to collect valuable data.

“The next step, one which some forward-thinking SMEs are already taking, is to analyse the data using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

“It is encouraging that so many of this region’s makers are recognising that using these tools can empower them to grow their business and increase efficiency.”

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