Starting small for successful digitalisation

Upon taking asmall step” onto the surface of the moon in 1969, Neil Armstrong uttered what would become one of history’s most famous phrases. It’s easy to dismiss taking small steps as a lack of real progress — but starting small can often lead to those “giant leaps” later in time. The same is true for manufacturers and their digital transformation. Here, Johan Jonzon, Co-Founder and CMO of edge analytics platform for industrial IoT, Crosser, explains why making incremental change is the key to long-term digital success.

Johan Jonzon

Digitalisation has played a key role in Industry 4.0 since the term was first coined back in 2011. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimates that over 90 per cent of industrial companies across Europe are already investing in digital solutions, driven by the prospect of greater productivity and cost-efficiency.

In fact, adoption is happening at an unprecedented pace. Research conducted by The Manufacturer and commissioned by IBM revealed that 67 per cent of businesses accelerated their digital projects because of COVID-19. As a result of the time pressures, projects that often take years to develop were realised in a matter of days.

The pandemic accelerated adoption of digital technologies, but for long-term success, industrial companies should take time to digitalise their operations.

The skills barrier

In today’s manufacturing, a digital skillset is highly sought after. In particular, the data and artificial intelligence job cluster is expected to increase by 58 per cent by the end of 2022, providing 123 opportunities per 10,000 people.

However, finding the talent required for digital transformation isn’t easy. According to manufacturing parts producer Fictiv’s 2021 State of Manufacturing Report, 44 per cent of manufacturers experience difficulty when looking to hire talent with the required expertise to help them digitally transform.

However, disparity between demand for digitally literate workers and the number of individuals capable of filling such positions is a problem for both technology providers and manufacturers as it restricts their digital transformation journey. Similarly, technology providers are unable to grow, since their solutions are inaccessible to many of their target users.

So, how exactly do we take those small, valuable steps towards digital transformation?

Small steps, big impact

Implementing digital solutions with limited knowledge can be challenging. Carrying out a digital transformation is a complex and lengthy process that can leave businesses in disarray. To overcome this, manufacturers should start with small projects and gradually expand to larger, more advanced use cases.

Accessing data creates a wealth of use cases that can drive growth by enabling real-time analysis and actionable insights to streamline industrial processes and improve business management. Crosser’s edge analytics platform is designed to assist industrial companies in realising IoT enabled functionalities. The platform is made up of a library of pre-built modules that allow manufacturers to implement common use cases using an intuitive drag-and-drop tool. When first setting up the system, it can be beneficial to start by simply using the platform to read data, without interfering with machine processes.

Once the data has been monitored and a valuable insight achieved, operators can then use this data to begin writing a workflow. Using the Crosser platform, users can test their workflows with machine data in real time and without interfering with normal operations, to guarantee its accuracy. Splitting the process into small, incremental steps reduces the risk of an incorrect configuration that could disrupt the machine’s operation.

What’s more, the Crosser platform is low code, meaning that existing OT and IT personnel can easily use it without the need for formal training or coding knowledge. With the digital skills gap resulting in a shortage of software developers, low-code solutions are an essential enabler of integrating Industry 4.0 technologies into manufacturing facilities.

Fail fast

Small projects fail fast, are cost-effective and offer rapid return on investment insights, which allows manufacturers to develop a digital solution that suits their needs without taking large risks. Once the small workflow has been developed using pre-built modules, it can be steadily scaled to a more advanced solution with multiple actions and triggers.

Taking small steps should not be confused with slow progression. Going in at the deep end with a facility, or even company-wide, use case is a high-risk decision that could have a damaging impact if it fails. By starting small, industrial companies can guarantee the success of their digital transformation in a cost-effective, low-risk scenario that results in greater productivity and reduced operational costs in the long term.

To learn more about Crosser’s edge analytics platform and its use cases, visit the website.


Yokogawa begins work on inter-industry collaboration study project for the realisation of a carbon-neutral industrial complex

Yokogawa has begun work on an inter-industry collaborative study project for the achievement of carbon neutrality at an industrial complex in the Goi district of Ichihara City in Chiba Prefecture. The study will examine the feasibility for collaboration by companies in different industries in a carbon recycling business and will involve surveys on the current status of the energy balances of their industrial plants and the capture and reuse of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by them. The goal for this project is to lay the groundwork for a business that will aim to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions for the entire industrial complex by 2050. This study has been commissioned by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

Inter-industry collaboration in a carbon recycling business

In line with the international community’s efforts to address climate change, the Paris Agreement was adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (COP 21), with the signatories agreeing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to virtually zero by the second half of this century. According to an International Energy Agency (IEA) report, carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology that captures CO2 emissions from power and other industrial plants as well as CO2 in the atmosphere will account for approximately 15% of the cumulative CO2 reduction needed to achieve CO2 net-zero emissions by the year 2070. Japan has declared that it will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. According to an announcement by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in December 2020, carbon recycling plays a key role in Japan’s Green Growth Strategy, and innovation in this field through public-private partnerships is encouraged.

After this study was commissioned by NEDO in February, Yokogawa contacted and requested the cooperation of companies in the Goi district and its neighbouring districts that operate plants with high CO2 emissions, and also conducted a survey of CCUS technologies and other subjects. From this month, Yokogawa will begin collaborating with these companies to examine the feasibility of a carbon recycling business, focusing on the three aspects of the effective use of materials and energy, CO2 capture and utilisation, and hydrogen management.

For this study, Yokogawa will leverage expertise held throughout the Yokogawa Group, including that of the subsidiaries Yokogawa Solution Services Corporation and KBC Advanced Technologies Limited. Specifically, Yokogawa will make use of the knowledge of manufacturing processes that has been cultivated through work for many different types of plants both in Japan and overseas, expertise in the improvement of processes and energy efficiency for single sites as well as the integration of multiple industrial sectors’ sites, virtual power plant technologies that enable the control of supply and demand at the regional level, regional energy management systems that optimise control based on supply and demand, and simulation technology that supports the execution of optimal production planning.

By cooperating with partners in the survey across multiple industries, Yokogawa is aiming to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions for the entire community, and contribute to the achievement of a carbon-neutral society that is one of the company’s “Three goals” for sustainability.

Test facility to improve infusion patient safety launched by TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory

TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory (NEL) today launches the UK’s first traceable, dynamic micro-flow measurement test facility for medical infusion devices, as part of a European-wide research programme to improve dosing accuracy.

Due to the widespread use of infusion in hospitals, dosing errors are common, causing morbidity and mortality. NEL’s new Micro-flow Measurement Facility will calibrate and test the performance of medical microfluidic infusion systems to ensure accurate delivery of fluids for a range of products, such as syringe pumps and infusion device analysers.

NEL has developed the facility as part of its research work with MeDD II, the Metrology for Drug Delivery project funded by the European Metrology Research Programme (EMPIR), which aims to develop traceable calibration services for drug delivery systems for flow rates down to 1 µL/min. The Micro-flow Measurement Facility will provide traceable flow rate measurements in the range of 1 µL/min to 10 mL/min, to assess the performance of devices and ensure accurate fluids delivery. The facility is capable of measuring changes in flow rates and hence the performance of drug delivery devices to identify fluctuations or spikes in drug dosing.

Dr. Emmelyn Graham, Life Sciences Consultant at NEL, said: “There have been numerous injuries, deaths and adverse health effects associated with the use of infusion pumps. Medical devices are usually calibrated and tested by manufacturers before use, but there is very limited ongoing performance reassessment by end-users. In the UK alone, approximately 80-90% of hospitalised patients receive intravenous therapy. So, it is vital that medication and fluid delivery is accurate and precisely controlled over time, especially for critical drugs at high concentration.

“A well-defined metrological infrastructure is therefore required to prevent incorrect measurements and significantly improve patient safety. This will allow infusion pump manufacturers to include more robust and precise information on the dose delivered to the patient, and drug delivery device end-users to have an enhanced metrological understanding of them. Our new Micro-flow Measurement Facility will play a significant part in achieving this goal, as it can be used by medical equipment manufacturers and end-users to verify performance and provide confidence in medication delivery,” concluded Dr. Graham.

NEL’s Micro-flow Measurement Facility will also be used as part of the new EMPIR MFMET research programme to develop globally accepted standards for microfluidic devices used particularly in the health and pharmaceutical industry

AVEVA accelerates sustainability leadership with emissions reduction target aligned to business ambition for 1.5°C criteria

AVEVA, a global leader in industrial software, driving digital transformation and sustainability, announced that it has committed to setting 1.5°C-aligned emission reduction targets across all three Scopes as part of joining the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign. The announcement was made during a meeting at AVEVA’s London office attended by Kwasi Kwarteng, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. The move affirms AVEVA’s commitment to set both short and long-term targets that are in line with the most ambitious aims of the Paris Climate Agreement and reflects a science-based approach to climate action.

Peter Herweck, CEO, AVEVA

“As outlined by the global scientific community in last week’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the window we have to take action on climate is closing fast,” said Peter Herweck, AVEVA CEO, at the meeting. “We have joined Business Ambition for 1.5°C because we are deeply committed to being part of the solution to the climate crisis, both through the industrial software that we make to support our customers on their digital journey and in the daily actions that we take to run our own business. By working together with our customers, partners, and other key stakeholders such as the UK Government, we believe we can create an inclusive net-zero economy in line with the 1.5°C pathway.”

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng commented, “It’s great to see companies like AVEVA committing to tackling climate change and joining the Race to Zero and the Business Ambition 1.5°C campaign. As a country, eliminating our contribution to climate change by 2050 simply will not be possible without business playing its part and I urge other companies to follow suit and sign up without delay.

“Advanced technologies have a major role to play in cutting emissions, while at the same time boosting investment and creating new green jobs. It was fantastic to see first-hand how AVEVA is supporting its many customers across the world to transition to a clean, green way of doing business and to seize the myriad opportunities that this brings.” Secretary of State Kwarteng said.

Business Ambition for 1.5°C is a global alliance led by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in partnership with the UN Global Compact and the We Mean Business coalition. It aims to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and avoid irreversible damage to our societies, economies, and the natural world by limiting global temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Reaching that goal requires halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and hitting net-zero emissions by 2050 worldwide. Over 600 companies representing more than $13 trillion in market capitalisation have signed up to the Business Ambition for 1.5°C initiative so far. It is widely recognised as the gold standard for corporate climate action.

“Achieving the targets will not be easy,” added Herweck. “However, we are confident that through a smart combination of implementing energy reduction measures across our offices, procuring renewable energy, and engaging with our suppliers and customers on climate action, we can greatly reduce our overall emissions with minimal reliance on carbon removals. The majority of our UK facilities, including London, Cambridge, Chesterfield and Manchester, are running on clean power and we are actively working to increase our renewable energy sourcing globally.” In the US, AVEVA’s California facilities, in Lake Forest, San Leandro and Carlsbad, have already switched to a green tariff.

Beyond making changes to accelerate AVEVA’s own use of renewable energy, the company’s software solutions enable many customers across the world to decarbonize and speed up the transition to a net-zero emissions economy. By enabling energy savings, emissions monitoring and mitigation, materials efficiency, waste reduction and supply chain optimization, AVEVA solutions support more sustainable industries.

AVEVA already contributes to a number of corporate sustainability initiatives that bring together companies to help tackle climate challenges collectively, including BSR, the UN Global Compact, and the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA). In signing on to the Business Ambition for 1.5°C commitment, AVEVA is also pleased to be joining the UNFCCC Race to Zero.

This latest climate pledge is aligned to AVEVA’s goal of showing that a 1.5°C-compliant business model is possible ahead of COP26 in November when governments and industries will strengthen their contributions to the Paris Agreement and to tackling global warming. It also reflects AVEVA’s culture of collaboration and its commitment to working with stakeholders across the value chain to help safeguard the planet for coming generations while advancing the net-zero industries of the future.

Rittal and Eplan partner with GAMBICA for virtual event

Following the recent announcement from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, where £53 million funding is being made available for UK manufacturers to boost competitiveness through digital technologies, Rittal and Eplan have partnered with the likes of GAMBICA, B&R, Machineering, Omron, Panasonic, Phoenix Contact and Rockwell Automation, to bring The Future Forum. The online event aims to address the scope, possible effects of automation as well as the solutions currently available.

The event’s strongly practical orientation will be particularly in evidence with live talks and software demonstrations which provide insights into industry trends, as well as tips and tricks that’ll help to streamline daily tasks in engineering and manufacturing.

Among the many highlights of the Future Forum will be keynote presentations from both GAMBICA and the Rittal and Eplan management board. Nikesh Mistry, Sector Head for Industrial Automation at GAMBICA will be kicking off the series of talks and demonstrations and will discuss the latest industry trends and how the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for digital innovation and adoption. Nikesh will also talk through challenges faced and obstacles tackled by members and how digitalisation has helped companies with efficiency, sustainability and profitability.

Live between 09:00 and 17:00 on the 6th October, all those interested in attending can register free of charge at

Shane Hope, Managing Director at Rittal comments: “We’re witnessing rapid technological progress, with digital platforms, automation and many other innovations are changing the world around us. As we look to the future, we know that major changes will take place. The Rittal and Eplan Future Forum will provide the opportunity to network, participate in panel discussions and discover ways in which to overcome challenges associated with implementing automation.”

GI Systems at Instrumentation, Analysis & Testing Exhibition – Silverstone 14th September

GI Systems Ltd is participating in the Engineering Integrity Society event being held at the Silverstone Race Circuit on 14th September 2021, the Instrumentation, Analysis & Testing Exhibition.

The company is looking forward to presenting products and solutions from its partner companies Gantner Instrumentation and Manner Sensortelemetrie, with application solutions for test, measurement, data acquisition and analysis across automotive, aerospace, structural, rotating machine measurement telemetry and many other industrial and development requirements.

The GI Systems team are excited to be at a ‘real business event’ for the first time in a year and half and looks forward to discussing your test and measurement applications. Find the company on stand 54.

Pre -register at: |

Kazakhstan export success for North Sea Ventilation and IndEx Enclosures

IndEx Enclosures, the Kent-based manufacture of Hazardous Area and Industrial control gear enclosures has just dispatched the latest consignment of Activated Isolation, Modulation, Fire & Gas Damper junction boxes bound for the huge Tengiz oilfields of Kazakhstan.

The IndEx Enclosures ventilation damper control Junction Boxes are fitted with tri-langauge signage for Kazakhstan.

The custom-designed ATEX Zone 1 certified and Industrial Standard enclosures, were ordered by North Sea Ventilation (NSV) Ltd of Hull.

Andrew Sully, NSV’s Project Manager, commented, “We originally began working with IndEx Enclosures on this contract back in 2016 leading to the supply of some 3,200 off ATEX-certified and Industrial Standard Junction Box enclosures destined for Kazakhstan which were delivered on time and as agreed. The ventilation systems on the various modules are obviously vital to the whole operation of the facility with the Actuated Dampers regulating the flow of air and extremely important parts of the systems which have to operate in potentially explosive atmospheres.”

“After the supply of these enclosures over two years, during which time there had been no delays nor failures of ATEX testing, the scope of our contract was then extended to include another 3,000 off Junction Boxes for field buildings which is just completing.”

“What steered us towards IndEx Enclosures was their willingness to design and manufacture non-standard enclosures to our exact specification which includes their population with electrical terminals and supply of tri-language signage and certification. The products and service has been excellent and we now consider them as a primary preferred source of supply, not only for Kazakhstan, but all similar projects.”

Manufactured from 316 Stainless Steel for its superior corrosion resistance qualities, the 140mm x 140mm enclosures are the latest export success for the company who have developed a high degree of brand recognition and a first class reputation for the design and manufacture of hazardous area control, instrumentation and connection products at their Ashford facility. The company have established a global reputation for customisation and service within the energy, chemical processing, food, pharma and rail sectors with a client base of over 200 active companies.

Mark Popple, General Manager of IndEx Enclosures, added, “We’ve enjoyed a very successful relationship with NSV and look forward to continue to be of service to them. We are slightly unusual in the sector for designing and manufacturing totally in-house which gives us the ability to supply non-standard items for both Hazardous Area and normal Industrial use. Constant investment in our personnel and plant has given us the flexibility to compete with far larger suppliers of enclosures and our clients appreciate our ability to rapidly supply both standard and bespoke items at cost-effective rates.”

Founded in 2010, IndEx Enclosures was purchased by Kent Business Investors earlier this year who have continued investing to build on the company’s manufacturing excellence.

RS Components and Zerynth’s IIoT workshop gives engineers a boost to Industry 4.0

RS Components (RS) is offering exclusive access to a hands-on workshop entitled ‘Edge Computing and Data Collection for Industrial IoT’. The workshop is delivered by leading IIoT platform vendor Zerynth via RS’ DesignSpark community webpage.

The Zerynth/DesignSpark workshop is designed to teach system integrators, programmers and maintenance staff how to connect both new and legacy industrial machines, apparatus and sensors to IIoT infrastructure, so that production data can be easily extracted for Industry 4.0 applications. The workshop includes 16 video lectures that can be viewed at the participant’s own pace.

Each workshop participant can request up to three free 30-minute one-to-one video calls with a Zerynth engineer to discuss specific questions and requirements.

To qualify for this exclusive IIoT workshop, participants should buy a Zerynth KIT-EWS-01-F016 microcontroller development system from RS, which will be used for the practical elements of the course. This development kit centres on Zerynth’s 4ZeroBox data acquisition unit, which provides a machine-to-cloud interface for legacy and modern industrial equipment. The kit also includes AC and temperature sensors, a reed switch, and an RS485-to-USB interface for PC-based peripheral simulation.

“We designed this workshop to support engineers and companies to easily transition to the Industry 4.0 revolution, acquiring data from industrial machines and optimising industrial processes” says Daniele Mazzei, Chief Innovation Officer of Zerynth.

4ZeroBox is an industrial IoT device for data acquisition, monitoring, and control of industrial machines. It can run in PLC mode, retrofitting mode for legacy machines, or hybrid mode, and it supports industrial sensor channels, communication protocols, and relays.

The 4ZeroBox is powered by the ZM1 IoT module that features Wifi, BLE, Ethernet, integrated secure element for hardware encryption, and Zerynth OS, powerful Python-enabled OS for IoT applications. It easily improves visibility on production processes, enables predictive maintenance of machines, and allows power management monitoring. The 4ZeroBox modernises any industrial machinery and equipment allowing companies to drive their Industry 4.0 digital transformation.

Workshop content includes: the Industry 4.0 paradigm; basics of IoT architecture; microcontroller peripherals and basic IoT workflow; features and benefits of 4ZeroBox; digital and analogue data acquisition from industrial machines; edge computing benefits and applications; fundamentals of an IoT cloud service; best practice in applying over-the-air firmware updates; creating realtime data monitoring dashboards; and the system architecture and code components of a complete end-to-end IIoT application.

“RS has been very successful in building up the largest engineering community worldwide reaching one million members through its DesignSpark platform. At Zerynth We see a real value partnering with RS and delivering the first workshop on Industry 4.0 to such a large and professional audience,” said Andrea Galizia, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Zerynth.

The Edge Computing and Data Collection for Industrial IoT workshop is available now from RS globally with the purchase of the Zerynth KIT-EWS-01-F016 ( 219-6059).

Contrinex inductives for hydrualic press tool presence and position checking

Automated presence and position checking of tools reduces the setup times for hydraulic presses, improving machine availability and utilisation.

Customer application

The automotive industry uses automation extensively and an automobile manufacturer wanted to automate the presence and position checking of tools within their hydraulic presses.

The conventional downward-acting hydraulic presses are equipped with sliding tables that hold the upper and lower tools in position and allow them to be changed.

Automatic checking is required to ensure that both tool halves are correctly positioned on the sliding table as they are being prepared. Incorrect tool position, or absence of tool, can cause damage or failure.

Customer solution

Contrinex’s cubic 40 x 40 x 40mm C44 inductive sensors from their Basic 600 Series, available from PLUS Automation, solve this application, due to their robust industrial construction, proven reliability of its sensing capabilities, high-performance, a choice of 15 to 40 mm sensing distances and low-cost.

A sensor is installed on one corner of the sliding table and adjusted to confirm the presence of a correctly positioned tool. The accuracy in switching distance of this sensor means that any deviation in tool position is detected. An incorrectly positioned tool will therefore immediately trigger a process stop. This position/absence check takes place with all the speed expected from an automated factory process.

By preventing the presses from proceeding to the moulding process with incorrectly positioned or absent tools, this automatic tool change sensor helps prevent production faults, reduce downtime and avoid damage to the presses themselves.

Made Smarter creates 60 digital leaders

Sixty digital leaders now have the vision and the skills to pursue smarter manufacturing through Made Smarter’s innovative Leadership Programme.

Five cohorts of managers and directors at SME manufacturing companies have now completed the Made Smarter Leadership Programme through the Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), the University of Liverpool (UoL) and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

The programme encourages current and future leaders to develop a new way of looking at their business and create a clear strategy to enable the adoption of digital technology, including how that can drive the net zero agenda.

It uses a blend of workshops delivered by academics and experts in digital and leadership, site visits to SME manufacturers who are already on the journey of adopting digital technology, facilitated-learning sessions, and special project ‘sprints’ to test new ideas.

The programme also uses peer-to-peer coaching to create a trusted network of leaders, many of whom have remained in close contact.

Among the trailblazing businesses to embark on the programme are: Optimold (Warrington), Technoprint (Winsford), Abbey England (Knutsford), Actikem (Warrington), Twinfix (Warrington), Eden River Brew Company (Penrith), Astec Precision (Ulverston), Cumbria Clock Company (Penrith), Forth Engineering (Barrow), Primasonics (Penrith), Createc (Cockermouth), Arden Dies (Stockport), Eurofabs (UK) Ltd (Rochdale), DRM Industrial Fabrics (Bury), Fintek (Ramsbottom), Heatsense Cables (Rochdale), Len Wright Salads (Tarleton), Arc Lancaster (Lancaster), Connect 2 Cleanrooms (Lancaster), Daedalian Glass (Poulton-le-Fylde), Fleetwood Sheet Metal (Fleetwood), Seward Precision Laser (Preston), Pendle Doors (Darwen), Inscape Interiors (Chorley), Forsberg Services (Lancaster), Norcott Technologies (Widnes), D T & G Ltd (Bromborough), DT Engineering (Widnes), Flexitallic (Ellesmere Port), Gencoa (Liverpool) and Milexa (Liverpool).

With 60 SME leaders now empowered to transform their businesses, manufacturers across the North West are now being encouraged to register their interest for the next two cohort intakes, starting on October 7 and November 10 at Lancaster University.

Reflecting on the success of the programme, Donna Edwards, Director of the Made Smarter Adoption Programme in the North West, said: “I am delighted that the Leadership Programme has helped create 60 new digital leaders by giving them time out of their business to reflect on the bigger picture and share ideas and experiences alongside their peers in manufacturing, and then return to their own business and develop a digital strategy to create growth and efficiencies.

“They are among hundreds of manufacturers in the region grasping the opportunities offered by Made Smarter which include expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help take that first step to transform a business, funded digital technology internships, and support with technology adoption projects.

“I would encourage SME manufacturers to make contact with Made Smarter to find out how we can help with leadership development, skills, and how to adopt technology the right way.”

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

Delegates will also embark on ‘sprints’ where they will test their ideas with other business leaders to build engagement and learn from each other.

Andrea Williams, Operations Director at Norcott Technologies, an electronics manufacturer, based in Widnes, described the sprint sessions as her ‘lightbulb moment’.

“Theory is valuable and arms you with ideas, concepts and tools you can use,” she said. “Each element of the programme was an important piece in the jigsaw, and every session I returned to work energised with new ideas, purpose and strategy. But hearing how it had been successfully applied to another business and seeing the proof was the breakthrough moment. That was when I saw the full picture. Everything then fell into place. 

“While much of my focus is navigating the impact of Covid, the programme has given me confidence that I am moving in the right direction.”

Virtual site visits to SME manufacturers already driving digital in their companies included 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, and Veka Plc, a Burnley-based manufacturer of PVCu window systems.

Peter Addison, Business Systems Manager at Connect2CleanRooms, a manufacturer of in critical environments, based in Lancaster, was inspired by the insights.

“The Hosokawa journey was an enlightening presentation and allowed me to consolidate my thinking,” he said. “Although the business is different to ours, their digital challenges were the same. 

“It has helped me to consider the role of digitalisation in our business and how this will connect back to things like staff development, wellbeing, our brand and the benefits pursuing and prioritising our digital strategy.” 

Peter also benefited from the Learning Forums.

“My initial thought of having to be part of a group discussing business issues was not something I particularly looked forward to doing. However, six months on they have been so useful and a great opportunity to connect and learn from others. Even after the programme ended, we still meet up weekly, and throw into the discussion issues we are facing and you can always be assured of honest, unbiased, constructive feedback. It has been brilliant.”

Sarah Poynter, Operations Manager at Arden Dies, a die and tooling manufacturer based in Stockport, said the programme was hugely influential in prioritising and kick-starting digital projects.

She said: “Through the programme I was able to identify several clear opportunities to make some significant changes which would bring benefit to the business. Furthermore, I was able to use the sprint approach to accelerate making those ideas a reality. 

“One sprint was all about addressing a number of significant production issues relating to an existing product line which demanded very short turnaround times, high volumes and quality specifications. By automating large parts of the process we were able to accelerate the end to end process.  

“While some of the sprints are still in play, they have been game-changing through reduced wastage, increased agility, quality and improved delivery performance.”

At 58-years-old, Keith Scobie-Youngs, Co-Founder of the Cumbria Clock Company, a repair and restoration specialist based in Penrith, had never done anything like the Made Smarter Leadership Programme before.

“I worried I was too old,” he said. “But it was enlightening. It gave me an opportunity to talk to people in the same position, some with more experience in some aspects of management and others just starting off. It was also interesting speaking to other participants who are taking over family businesses. I am laying the foundations for my sons to take over, so seeing it from the other side broadened my thinking.”

Keith’s biggest takeaway was on enhancing the business’s sustainability credentials.

“As a clockmaker, by our nature, we recycle these old timepieces and find engineering solutions to keep them running,” he said. “But the nature of our work means that when a clock breaks down it has a big impact on the company in terms of cost, and the environment because of the travel impact to and from, sometimes multiple times.

“This is why, through Made Smarter support, we are implementing a digital management system, so we can be more efficient in planning maintenance and repairs, and reduce our carbon footprint. Sustainability is also a key driver of our plans to move to a new purpose-built workshop.

“Through the programme, I realised we are in a strong position to improve and differentiate ourselves from our competitors through sustainability. Customers want to work with ethical companies, not just food and clothing, but every aspect of their lives, including horology.”

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 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.”

Registration for the next Leadership Programme is now open. For more information or to apply for your place visit