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Post-lockdown planning for small manufacturers – including some farms

Made Smarter Programme

No matter what business you’re in, we all face getting used to a new normal once coronavirus is under control. Looking forward to that happier time, we want our farmer customers and fellow supply firms to be aware of our experience as early participants in the Made Smarter Programme.

This is an industry and government supported initiative. It offers:

  • Fully funded business and technical advice about raising productivity using new digital technologies;
  • matched funding for eligible investment in this area;
  • leadership training for business owners and employees.

The £20 million north west pilot scheme was launched in November 2018 and is open until March 2021. The declared intention is to roll it out nationally.

EnviroSystems Made Smarter

As you know, here at EnviroSystems we pioneer ecologically sympathetic agri-products, including microbiological treatments to improve the fertiliser value and easy handling characteristics of livestock slurries.

More that a year ago, we identified that our processes for making and using SlurryBugs needed updating. The problem was like having an original Massey Ferguson 135 and wanting to give it a 21st century electronic brain and auto-steer, just like we take for granted on brand new models today.

To address this, we had started put some of the building blocks in place. Even so, like many small-firms, we only had modest funds for investment and progress was slow.

A breakthrough came about when we found out about Made Smarter. In contrast with some past business support schemes, getting involved with this one was a piece of cake. The application itself was clear and easy to complete and, right from the outset, we had a knowledgeable advisor who worked closely with us.

Henry Russell
Operations manager

The programme has provided guidance and matched funding for high precision automated dispensing of SlurryBugs into slurry stores. As we roll this out, it will replace manual weekly dosing with daily, computerised precision and automated treatment.

Remote sensors and online connection to SlurryBugs HQ will enable continuous monitoring. This means we’ll be able to alert farmers to malfunctions as soon as they arise. Some of these will be fixable remotely from our office, when the first a customer will hear is that we’ve dealt with a snag they didn’t know about.

Made Smarter For Farming

In our view, Made Smarter’s wide range of support is well suited to a wide range of businesses: A farm making cheese or yogurt or ice cream; a sheet metal fabricator with 25 employees in Wigan; an upmarket fashion house in one of Manchester’s trendier business districts; or indeed Envirosystems at Barton, about 10 miles north of Preston.

In readiness for the lifting of lockdown, we encourage our farming customers and fellow manufacturing SMEs in the north west to register your interest at www.madesmarter.uk. And in other parts of the country, maybe contact your MP to ask when the Made Smarter programme will become available where you are.

Farming Eligibility

We checked specifically whether farms would be eligible for this programme and the answer was yes, as long as the application meets all relevant criteria.

In straightforward terms, applicants need to be:

  • making things;
  • preparing to implement digital technologies; an
  • for the time being, located in the pilot stage’s north west catchment (the declared intention is to roll it out nationally).

Our operations manager Henry Russell addressed the Made Smarter Commission in October 2019 at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) about his experience so far on the scheme.

The meeting involved the then Secretary of State for BEIS and Made Smarter co-chair, Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP: “Through the Made Smarter Commission the Government is working with industry to help manufacturers embrace digital technology and use it to further boost our competitiveness.”

Source: madesmarter.uk, Oct 2019

Personal Message From Made Smarter

“Made Smarter is a national movement to drive growth amongst UK makers and advance the UK economy. Backed by world-renowned businesses and the UK government, it will improve the development and adoption of emerging technologies. Making a real, everyday difference to people from the boardroom to the factory floor.

“Made Smarter was formed following a nationwide review into UK manufacturing that recommended three key changes: More ambitious leadership. More innovation in developing new technologies. And faster implementation and adoption of those technologies.

“We’ll be boosting the digital skills of industry leaders, bringing businesses and research development together to develop new technology, and helping makers embrace new digital tools. In doing so, we’ll inspire the next industrial revolution and make the UK a leader in digital technologies.