FOOD and drink makers in Cumbria are being offered a free guide to give them the ingredients for digitalisation.

The downloadable document has been produced by Made Smarter, the North West technology adoption programme, a collaboration between UK government and industry designed to support the increased use of digital technologies.

The guide includes topics such as how to get started with digital technologies, infrastructure management, increasing control, reducing waste and boosting sustainability, enhancing traceability, and how to hit new trends.

The programme has worked with dozens of SMEs across the entire supply chain from farm to fork to capitalise on the multitude of benefits that digitalisation offers. These include: salad, fruit and potato growers; cheese and yogurt makers; bakers, confectioners, and dessert manufacturers; breweries; health and nutrition producers; as well as businesses making baby food, black pudding, flavourings, and pet food.

Among those working with Made Smarter on technology projects are:

Bells of Lazonby, the family baker based in Penrith, which is automating its portioned cake with a bespoke solution featuring robotics to speed up production time, increase accuracy, reduce wastage and increase profitability.

Bell Mount Farming, a free-range egg farmer in Penrith, has invested in a ground-breaking digital solution using sensors, big data and analytics to produce more eggs and improve bird welfare.

Cranstons Quality Butchers, based in Penrith, invested in a company-wide sales order processing and factory system project which is enabling greater efficiency and overview of orders and products along with a robust stock system for our dry goods, raw ingredients and factory made products.

Kendal Nutricare, based in Kendal, a manufacturer of nutrition products including infant formulas and baby cereals.

Shed 1 Distillery, a craft gin producer, based in Ulverston.

Friars, a chocolatier based in Keswick, using automation to keep pace with a fast moving industry.

Through impartial expert technology advice and match funding on technology projects, digital transformation workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps, a leadership programme, digital technology internships, and skills development, it is helping businesses in the sector increase productivity, achieve sustainable growth, and create new high value jobs.

Digital transformation has also proven to be critical to food and drink manufacturers of all sizes over the last 18 months, with the combined impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, Brexit, and the drive towards net zero.

Made Smarter, which has supported businesses to deliver an additional £176 million in gross value added and create hundreds of new jobs, is now keen to reach more manufacturers to aid the growth of the North West’s £3.3bn food and drink industry which employs more than 45,000 people*.

Alain Dilworth, North West Adoption Programme Manager at Made Smarter, said: “While the North West is home to some of the food industry’s biggest names such as Nestle, Heinz, and Kellogg’s, it is also brimming with innovative small and medium sized enterprises across the entire supply chain, working hard to ensure we continue to enjoy our favourite food and drink from farm to fork.

“The triple challenge of the pandemic, Brexit and the net zero agenda, have created a perfect storm for the food and drink industry, impacting SMEs more than most. But despite these pressures, many of these businesses have shown resilience and determination to keep up with the fast moving industry and are working with Made Smarter on their digital transformation.

“From using robotics and process control technologies to improve sustainability and automating data collection points to create a line of traceability, technologies are not only helping producers overcome challenges, but also unlock a whole host of opportunities.

“To help demystify digitalisation and help SMEs to their first step, we have produced some crucial guidance as well as explained why implementing digital tools is such a priority in this sector.”

To download the free guide visit: