23.1 C
Manchester
Sunday, June 23, 2024
Business supportMade Smarter manufacturers use emerging technologies to navigate COVID-19

Made Smarter manufacturers use emerging technologies to navigate COVID-19

SME manufacturers supported by Made Smarter are using emerging technologies to navigate the impact on business from the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses signed up to the North West pilot to support the Industry 4.0 revolution have adapted in a variety of ways, including switching production to make medical scrubs, ventilator parts and PPE to help the front-line fight against the disease.

Others from across the region have harnessed new capabilities to ramp up production to meet increasing demand and continue operating while staff self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While Made Smarter has shut its offices to do its bit to combat COVID-19, its team of expert business and technology advisers have continued to offer support and advice virtually.

Alain Dilworth, Made Smarter Programme Manager, said: “The COVID-19 outbreak has widespread repercussions for the economy, which will have most likely led to uncertainty in terms of the way businesses operate.

“It has been impressive how manufacturers have reacted and adapted to the different circumstances they find their businesses facing.

“Made Smarter has been able to continue offering help and advice over Skype and telephone.

“Our advice is fully funded, meaning you can understand the digital tools available to help boost processes and grow your enterprise without the financial barrier. On top of this, you can apply for up to 50% match-funding for technology implementation and access a digital technology intern to support you with the research, development and implementation of emerging technologies.”

Technology being put to good use

Fabricon Design uses advanced manufacturing methods to produce innovative plastics, aluminium and steel component designs for a range of sectors. It has responded to the UK’s need for vital equipment by making headbands for facial masks used by NHS staff and designed and manufactured a respiratory port for a hospital’s CPAP machine.

The business, based in Ashton-Under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, is using a new 3D printer, adopted using Made Smarter support, which made the switch between materials quicker.

Mark Bushdyhan, Director of Fabricon Design, said: “We wanted to use our internal expertise and technology to help with the call for vital equipment. We already utilise 3D printers within our operations. They are incredibly effective at prototyping designs quickly. It’s fantastic that we have been able to utilise them to print headbands which will support the protection of NHS staff. We are also looking at other options such as using our injection moulding machines which can produce over 7,000 of these components a week.”

Textiles manufacturer Tibard, based in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, was forced to close their operations producing work wear and uniforms but reopened to start making PPE equipment and scrubs for hospitals.

With help from Made Smarter the business replaced its two-decade-old CAM cutting machine with a modern IoT-connected machine. It now has access to advanced features which minimise downtime and guarantee predictive maintenance which helps meet demand.

Ian Mitchell, Managing Director of Tibard, said: “Given the current impact on our customers, we have changed our production to focus on responding to the vital needs of the NHS and carers for protective clothing during these difficult times. It is rewarding to see our business responding to help to support our medical professionals and key workers whilst they are working tirelessly to support people across the UK.”

While many industries have been forced to pause their activity to play their part in helping the country defeat coronavirus, the government has acknowledged that it is important manufacturers maintain their operations to keep supply chains moving.

ATEC Engineering Solutions, a Salford-based business which designs, manufactures and repairs complex electronic and electro-mechanical equipment, is still running its production as a vital part of the defence supply chain.

Andrea Hough, Managing Director of ATEC and member of the Made Smarter National Commission and North West Pilot steering group, said: “I am so proud of my team at ATEC. They have responded to the current climate with dedication, energy and compassion. In addition to maintaining the smooth running of our existing operations, the team have adopted remote-working tools such as Zoom to enable social distancing. We have also utilised our 3D printers to produce protective visors for local care homes and care home trusts.”

Made Smarter has also produced an essential guide about how a manufacturing SME can try and maintain continuity and future-proof the business. The PDF can be downloaded fromhere.

A new Made Smarter LinkedIn forum for the manufacturing community to share their challenges and help solve problems with the support of peers, is also due to launch on May 4.

Latest
Subscribe to our newsletter
Business Manchester will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.
Don't miss

Georgia v Czech Republic: Betting preview, odds and offers

Georgia take on Czech Republic this coming Saturday in a European Championship match. Here is our in-depth preview, as well as some betting tips and special offers.

More News