The Made Smarter Awards has recognised four Cumbrian manufacturers for pursuing digital transformation.

Among the first 19 ‘gold’ award winners are: 

  • Storth, an agricultural machine manufacturer, based in Holme
  • Playdale Playgrounds, a playground equipment manufacturer based in Ulverston
  • R.A.F Engineering, an engineering and fabrication business, based in Workington
  • The Cumbria Clock Company, a clock repair and restoration specialist based in Penrith

The scheme was launched to mark the fourth anniversary of the Made Smarter programme, a government-funded and industry-led initiative helping SME manufacturers digitalise, decarbonise and drive growth.

From a diverse range of sectors, 158 North West businesses have been recognised for their committed approach to digital transformation.

There are three levels of certification - bronze, silver, and gold - depending on engagement and advocacy of the programme.

Donna Edwards, director of Made Smarter’s North West adoption programme, said: “The Made Smarter adoption programme is a huge success story for UK manufacturing. It has inspired leadership and evoked change in hundreds of businesses through technology and new skills.

We are delighted to launch our first Made Smarter Awards and hope that recipients will wear them like a badge of honour to inspire others around them.”

Playdale Playgrounds invested in a state-of-the-art Smart CNC routing machine which links with CAD and nesting software, and their ERP system. Integrating the design and manufacture has allowed them to achieve significant improvements in efficiency, output, productivity, reduce material use, tooling and downtime, and improve quality.

Paul Mallinson, Technical & Operations Director, said: "We are extremely grateful to the Made Smarter programme. Adopting technology is an essential part of our digital strategy. Their expertise and support has accelerated our future state and ambitions to become an entirely digitally integrated factory. In such a competitive market we need to be able to manufacture faster and more efficiently.”

Storth make agricultural machinery, they transformed production using automation and robotics to increase productivity. With the support of Made Smarter, they have upskilling staff, unlocked R&D opportunities, and enabled the business to achieve lights-out manufacturing for the first time.

Julian Lopez, Export Manager, said: “We are delighted to receive a gold Made Smarter Award. It is the icing on the cake of a challenging but rewarding few years, which has kickstarted the digital transformation of our business.”

The North West programme has provided specialised support to over 2,500 businesses so far.

Investments have created 1,300 new manufacturing jobs, upskilled 2,400 existing roles and added over £209M in GVA for the North West economy.


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