July 25, 2024

Made Smarter Adoption Awards recognise digital transformation champions among SME manufacturers

Made Smarter, the movement connecting manufacturers to technology and skills, has launched a national awards programme to celebrate digital transformation among SME manufacturers.

The Made Smarter Adoption Awards champion manufacturing and engineering companies who have committed to adopting technology and skills to digitalise, decarbonise and drive growth.

Regional winners from adoption programmes in the North West, West Midlands, North East and Yorkshire and Humber have now been selected. They include:

  • Firstplay Dietary Foods, a specialist food manufacturer based in Stockport, winner of the Made Smarter North West award;

  • Bridge Cheese, a cheese manufacturer based in Telford, winner of the Made Smarter West Midlands award;

  • heliguy, a drone manufacturer based in North Shields, winner of the Made Smarter North East award;

  • Choc Affair, a chocolatier based in York, winner of the Made Smarter Yorkshire and Humber award.

The companies will now progress to the national awards where the overall winner will be announced in Liverpool on June 27.

Commenting on the launch of the awards, Brian Holliday, Co-Chair of the Made Smarter Commission, said: “The Made Smarter Awards celebrate digital transformation among SME manufacturers, and it is with great pride to see these inaugural awards taking place this year.

“I would like to congratulate all winners and nominees, from across all the regions, as we collectively celebrate the successes the Made Smarter adoption programme has helped support in each of the individual manufacturing businesses.

“The impact of the programme continues at pace with the creation of thousands of new jobs, the adoption of multiple digital technologies and empowerment of future digital leaders with our skills and leadership training.

“We are looking forward to the expansion of the programme into more regions in 2025. This allows us to truly support increasing manufacturing productivity, raising exports through international competitiveness, strengthening UK supply chains and  creating new value streams and reducing CO2 emissions.”

In the North West, Firstplay Dietary Foods picked up the Made Smarter award for the Greater Manchester area. Other area winners included: Weaver Dane Ltd (Cheshire); McMenon Engineering Services Ltd (Cumbria); Logs Direct Ltd (Lancashire); and Spice Kitchen Online Ltd (Liverpool).

Tom Fletcher, Managing Director of Firstplay Dietary Foods, said: “Made Smarter’s support has been transformational to our business. The team has helped us create a digital roadmap, invest in game-changing automation and embed new digital leadership skills in our business. Our partnership with Made Smarter has been incredible and this award is the icing on the cake.”

In the North East, heliguy collected the North East LEP Combined Authority area award while The Expanded Metal Company, based in Hartlepool, won the Tees Valley Combined Authority area award.

Sam Barnes, Product Development Manager at heliguy, said: “I think we’ll be able to look back at Made Smarter and say it had a really significant impact in helping us take retail products to market. Taking part in the programme has given us more confidence moving forward. With the help of Made Smarter we received funding for some machinery, and we also engaged with a lot of the training programmes; understanding how we would move towards a scale production of manufacture.

“Made Smarter hasn’t just benefitted the output of the business, but the strategy and the direction behind it. And the potential for job creation longer term is huge. The future looks really bright for heliguy in being able to penetrate the markets we already sell into, with a product that is British designed and British made.”

In Yorkshire and Humber, Choc Affair also picked up the North Yorkshire area award. Other area winners included: JW Rose Bakers (South Yorkshire), Kirkstall Precision Engineering (West Yorkshire) and Detech Europe (East Yorkshire).

Julian Barrie, Managing Director of Choc Affair, said: “The process with Made Smarter was really easy. The support and financial assistance have been invaluable. We’re excited to scale up our business and secure our future thanks to this investment.”

In the West Midlands, Bridge Cheese also won the Marches area award. Other areas winners were D.A.R.L Engineering (Coventry and Warwickshire); Advanced Innovative Engineering (UK) (Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire); Reynolds Blinds (Greater Birmingham and Solihull); Metal Assemblies (The Black Country) and G&O Springs (Worcestershire).

Michael Harte, Managing Director of Bridge Cheese, said: “The growth we’ve achieved as a business since we started in the first four years had been fantastic but for us to grow further, we needed to focus on data-led decision making.

“Made Smarter has enabled and accelerated our improvement in that area with an investment in new technology. The team has also helped us produce a digital roadmap for us, highlighting the steps we need to take over the next three to five years to digitalise. This support will take Bridge Cheese to a whole new level.”