Greater Manchester digital leaders are now under 60 with the vision and skills to pursue smarter manufacturing through Made Smarter’s innovative leadership program.

Five cohorts of managers and directors from medium-sized manufacturing companies have now completed the Made Smarter Leadership Program at Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), University of Liverpool (UoL) and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

The program encourages current and future leaders to take a fresh look at their business and develop a clear strategy to enable digital technology adoption, including how this can fuel the net zero agenda.

It uses a mix of workshops by academics and experts in the field of digital and leadership, on-site visits to SME manufacturers who are already on the way to adopting digital technologies, moderated learning sessions and special project sprints to generate new ideas to test.

The program also uses peer-to-peer coaching to build a trusted network of leaders, many of whom have stayed in close contact.

Groundbreaking companies participating in the program include: Arden Dies (Stockport), Eurofabs (UK) Ltd (Rochdale), DRM Industrial Fabrics (Bury), Fintek (Ramsbottom) and Heatsense Cables (Rochdale).

With 60 SMB executives now able to transform their businesses, manufacturers across the Northwest are now being encouraged to show their interest in the next two cohort groups at Lancaster University starting October 7th and November 10th.

Commenting on the success of the program, Donna Edwards, Director of the Made Smarter Adoption Program in the Northwest said, “I am delighted that the Leadership Program has helped create 60 new digital leaders by giving them time to think about the bigger picture Inform and share ideas and experiences with their colleagues in manufacturing and then go back to their own business and develop a digital strategy to create growth and efficiency.

“You are among hundreds of manufacturers in the region using the capabilities of Made Smarter, including expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to take the first step in transforming a business, funded internships in digital technology, and assistance with Technology introduction projects.

“I encourage SMB manufacturers to contact Made Smarter to find out how we can help develop leadership, skills and the right adoption of technology.”

The program, which lasts over eight months, includes seven workshops led by both leading-edge academics and business practitioners demonstrating introduction to real business environments.

Delegates will also go on “sprints” where they test their ideas with other business leaders to build engagement and learn from each other.

Virtual site visits to SMB manufacturers who are already driving digitization in their businesses included Hosokawa Micron Ltd, based in Runcorn, a manufacturer and supplier of powder processing systems and equipment that has transformed its manufacturing performance through the use of digital technologies, and Veka Plc, a Burnley-based manufacturer of plastic window systems.

Sarah Poynter, operations manager at Arden Dies, a tool and die maker based in Stockport, said the program has had a huge impact on the prioritization and launch of digital projects.

She said, “Through the program, I have identified several clear opportunities to make some significant changes that would benefit the company. In addition, I was able to use the sprint approach to accelerate the implementation of these ideas.

“A sprint was about solving a number of important production problems related to an existing product line that required very short lead times, high volumes and quality specifications. By automating large parts of the process, we were able to speed up the end-to-end process.

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

Professor Angus Laing, Dean of Lancaster University Management School, said, “When we started the Leadership Program with Made Smarter, our hope was to create a space for leaders to identify their confidence, capacity and skills to test and adopt new technologies.

“It is clear from the feedback from so many executives in the five cohorts who have now started this program that they have benefited greatly from it.” We take important time outside of the company to develop a strategy to integrate high-tech and digital-based manufacturing techniques into your own production processes and at the same time to take employees and other stakeholders with us on their path of digital transformation. “

Registration for the next leadership program is now possible. For more information or to apply for your place, visit


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