Develop your strategic thinking to support the adoption of hi-tech and digitally-based manufacturing techniques into your own production processes and learn how to successfully bring employees and other stakeholders along on your digital transformation journey.
Don’t just take our word for it, see comments below about what our first delegates thought about our Made Smarter Leadership Programme.
Gerry Weston – Managing Director
DT Engineering, Cheshire
“Engineering as a sector is very much a nuts and bolts, oil-dirty environment. The evolution of the industry through digitalisation and new technologies was something we needed to look at to futureproof our business. We were one of the pioneering SMEs which applied to Mae Smarter for some project funding. We were also invited to attend the Leadership Programme. It was a no brainer for us to get involved in the programme because of the benefits it can bring.
“Having had no formal business training, I didn’t know what to expect. It has been a real eye-opener in a positive way. The key message I have taken from it is that digitalisation is not a process but an enabler to develop a wider business strategy. This programme has given me the tools for the job to develop that strategy to take us to the next level. I’m really excited about what the future holds now digitalisation is at the heart of our two-year growth plan. I’ve already started implementing things that I have learnt.”
Jeremy Kemsley-Pein – Director
Heatsense Cables, Rochdale
“Over the last few years I have heard a lot of talk about Industry 4, digitalisation, factory automation, the Internet of Things, and other jargon, and it is important to keep abreast of all developments in manufacturing. I realised that if I was to take Heatsense Cables to the next level I needed to understand what it was all about. The Made Smarter Leadership Programme has helped me develop my entire digitalisation strategy. There is no blueprint for a digitalisation strategy for a factory like ours. It’s about developing it yourself, finding the building blocks and then putting it all in place. “This programme has given me a roadmap and a strategic plan. It has given me a very clear idea of what we need to do.
“I’ve loved the factory visits as you always learn something new. These factories, like us, are at different stages of their own digitalisation strategy. Meeting other SME leaders has also been invaluable. We’ve all come at it from different angles and have been able to share ideas with one another.”
Jamie Philips – Operations Manager
Fintek, Greater Manchester
“It has really helped my ability to think as a leader rather than as a manager. It highlighted the importance of good communication within an organisation needs to be at the heart of any change. I also learnt that small changes to the way we do things can have a big impact on the business while improving the lives of the workforce. The programme helped me apply a value to every process and action within the business. This made me realise how much time was being wasted with duplication on some tasks.
The benefits of my new learnings were instant. We established new weekly meetings where we could share problems and ideas. We changed the workflow which significantly sped up one of our processes. We’ve also committed to adopting a new MRP in the future, so we introduced an analogue system on a whiteboard monitor certain workflows to prepare us for the new technology. We have also moved our network onto the cloud which allows management to operate remotely. This has given us increased flexibility and improved responsiveness.”
Alan Ryan – Managing Director
“This programme enabled me to get away from the office once a month to meet with and network with like-minded people and talk through our challenges and ambitions. Through the programme we have developed a shared vision and strategy which gives purpose to every decision we make. We have adopted new technologies which will clean up our data and eliminate manual processes which have hampered accurate decision-making. We also have a vision to move from just a manufacture to a service company, integrating with our customers and supply chain – something I never thought possible before I started the leadership programme.
“I would encourage other SME manufacturers to use this programme as a starting point. Industry 4.0 sounds big and scary to most small and medium business, and it’s easy to bury your head in the sand. Made Smarter Leadership Programme gives you the opportunity to talk through your fears, arm yourself with vital knowledge and understanding to make sensible decisions about the future of your business – to start small and gather momentum.”
Peter Phillips – Director
Abbey England, Cheshire
“The leadership programme has been an inspirational experience. It isn’t often you get the time to step away from the business to think about how you are running it. SMEs tend to operate in an isolated bubble. It was a valuable experience to meet other leaders from different types of business and seeing how they do things, and feeling reassured that even much larger organisations have the same challenges. Our business is undergoing significant structural changes and this programme has given me some of the tools that I didn’t have before to assist that process.
In terms of advanced technology, the programme has helped us identify new methods of 3D scanning and 3D printing which could half the manufacturing lead time, which is an incredible improvement. For any other SMEs wondering where to start with digitalisation, I absolutely recommend this programme. Not only does it arm you with the basics about the technologies that could help you, but it gives you the tools to bring them into your business.”
Robert Webb – Innovation Programme Manager
Forth Engineering, Cumbria
“What has impressed me most is the level of collaboration and openness among both the cohort and the businesses we visited during the programme. The residential element at the start of the programme established a great trust between the cohort which allowed us to speak frankly about our challenges. Because of that we were able to learn a great deal from one another. The life as an SME can be lonely. When you sit in a room with other business leaders, regardless of their size, you realise they are facing the same issues and looking at the same technology to solve their problems.
“It has been interesting how digitalisation umbrellas across all business. It doesn’t matter if you are involved in making horse harnesses or robotics, we all face the same issues. This course has provided the cohort with the tools in terms of leadership and application to implement the opportunities available from digitisation.
“From a business perspective Forth is now developing a plan to integrate its systems which will have a monumental impact on levels of efficiency. From a personal perspective I acquired a new set of leadership skills which has really helped my development. It has been academically challenging, but the course has embedded a desire to learn more.
“As well as connecting businesses from different sectors in the North West, this programme has helped me realise that manufacturing SMEs have an important role in the bigger picture, UK plc, which is at the vanguard of the cutting and bleeding edge of digitalisation on the global stage.
Digitalisation is omnipresent and should be the focus for all manufacturers. Changes don’t have to be large and disruptive. There are easy wins to be achieved. This programme is the perfect place to start.”
Chris Mayne – Operations Director
Forsberg Services, Lancashire
“The programme has enabled me to bring different projects together under one strategy. It has enabled me to create a framework which links all departments to the same purpose.
“Being able to take time out of the business, to take an outside perspective has enable me to look at problems a different way. This programme has given me the tools to go back to the business and solve the problems that have been nagging me.
“One of the key learnings has been around the importance of the data we collect and measure, what we do with it, and how that fits into our strategy. What I have realised is that we have software systems working in silos so I am exploring solutions to integrate those under one umbrella and controlling that data more efficiently. We have also identified the opportunity for RFID technology in our storeroom to improve efficiency.
“I would recommend this programme to SMEs because it will help leaders identify the priorities to make those incremental improvements.”
Anthony McMullin – Head of Operations
Milexa Group, Liverpool
“The residential was an excellent way of introducing the cohort to each other and the content for the course. It was thought provoking and enjoyable. The site visits also gave us a great overview of how the ideas we were discussing might be applied in the real world, by businesses in different industries and at different sizes.
“The Good Dividends model has entirely changed my view of how to organise a business towards a good purpose and create value for all the stakeholders involved. The approach to measuring what we value also provided a great rubric for tracking the success of this around the business in a holistic way.
“I feel like I understand much better what constitutes good leadership, in terms of the personal characteristics this involves, but also in how we can focus our energy to inspire a transformational culture that thrives in a changing world. I immediately introduced the concepts of Good Dividends to my teams and this has informed all of our planning for 2020 and beyond.
“We are really interested in how we can gather data on our performance and efficiency in operations. We began this by recording things manually and the working iteratively to automate this. Our next steps will be to develop our analysis to remove bottlenecks and free up time for our team to innovate further. We have the potential to drastically improve both our capacity and productivity. Which in turn will allow us to identify and focus efforts on key areas for growth. We’ve increased our gross profit margin by 2 points over the past year, largely owing to our ability to automate, standardise and reduce waste using digital technology. The increase in automation and use of data has freed up a number of people to focus on growth in their roles and take up more high value work.
“You cannot start this journey too soon now. The potential is truly limitless depending on your ambitions. The process can also be done in a very scalable and iterative way by making small changes in certain areas which yield huge benefits. This only then further enables and justifies more positive change further down the line.”