How North West SMEs are using Made Smarter funding scheme

How North West SMEs are using Made Smarter funding scheme

Since graduating from Manchester Business School and having spent my final MBA project investigating the UK Industrial IoT market. I have for the last 18 months been working for InVMA Limited, a company that specialises in helping business adopt advanced Industrial IoT technology. It has been fascinating and enjoyable helping companies evaluate and deploy this new technology.

In early 2019 I was made aware that the UK government was looking to pilot a scheme in the North West of England, to help speed up the adoption of this technology into manufacturing companies. Upon further investigation it turned out this project was being run right out of Manchester (my home town) and that there was a rapid process in place, allowing a business to engage with their team, communicate the kind of challenge they are facing and be introduced directly to relevant suppliers. Suppliers that meet the necessary requirements have the opportunity to put forward their offers and then for the customer to receive funding through this scheme called Made Smarter to execute the projects.

Since becoming aware of this it has been a very busy and interesting few months. The first company the team introduced me to is a specialist cable manufacturer based in the North of Manchester, fitting the profile of many North West manufacturers: Small specialist site producing a high quality product, delivering high margin revenue and exporting across the EU and beyond. The challenge was a clear one: finding the best way for allowing a small company to take their first steps, while at the same time managing the risk involved and ensuring valuable, beneficial use would be realised from any technology deployment.

InVMA have been able to develop an offer allowing the customer to rapidly connect to and visualise the performance of their Industrial Assets, which in this case are extrusion lines and high speed tapering machines. Furthermore we are also able to integrate to the existing work order management system, making it possible to visualise factory performance and begin to help this site begin to benchmark itself in the pursuit of operating at world class levels of OEE. (Operational Equipment Efficiency)

This offer was accepted and InVMA will shortly commence work in this factory, a story that we believe will be of interest to many similar types of business looking to take similar first steps. We hope to run an open day for other manufacturers in the region to let others see the steps forward made, when the works are complete.

Since formulating this offer there have been numerous other introductions and the kind of projects we are currently looking at are very interesting indeed:

  • Offering a modified version of the system just described to a similar manufacturer that is using different asset types.
  • For a specialist machine component provider, integrating directly to a large fleet of CNC machinery and delivering increased uptime of machinery but crucially reducing the rate of scrappage and re-work.
  • Making use of AR (Augmented Reality) to help a company to guide customers through flat pack assembly of their product, which significantly reduces their delivery costs.
  • Integrating our Asset Performance dashboards into another Made Smarter supplier’s offer. Enabling live asset and product production status to be viewed within a 3D mixed reality experience. To deliver greater Asset uptime but also to enable customers visibility within their supply chain.

It is fair to say the government (backed by major oganisations) has the makings of a fantastic scheme on their hands. Already discussions are being held about this scheme being rolled out across all regions of the UK. For now this is open to all North West business that employ and manufacture here in the region. If you would like to explore more about how Made Smarter and InVMA could help you, download this brochure.

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