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Plug in to the Benefits of Digitisation

Published: 27 September 2023

Manufacturing businesses in the West Midlands can utilise digitisation and keep ahead of the competition.

As industry 4.0 continues to rapidly change the landscape for businesses and the economy – manufacturers in the West Midlands should take advantage of the many opportunities that digitisation offers.

Digital manufacturing is one of the most recent and extensive developments in the sector. It presents new opportunities for businesses to use advanced technology to keep up with consumer demand and maintain their competitiveness.

Automation will allow them to execute routine tasks faster and with fewer errors, while the access to advanced data analytics through sophisticated operating systems can help to forecast future demand and inform management decisions.

While innovators in this field are forging ahead of the rest by fully harnessing digitisation, research shows many small to medium sized businesses are struggling to get off the starting block, unaware of the potential and unsure of the return on investment. 

Why should West Midlands businesses embrace digitisation?

Be more agile - the use of technology, specifically data analytics, can enable a business to be more responsive to changing consumer demands and keep pace with latest innovations and maintain productivity.

Cost savings – technology-driven automation in production processes means the same or better output with less effort, creating additional capacity to find new ways of driving growth elsewhere in the business.
A more efficient workforce – adopting robotics or artificial intelligence for routine tasks on the production line means employees can take on more complex projects that help grow the business.

Streamlined maintenance – utilising technology that provides real-time data on machine performance will help identify issues before breakdown and allow in-production adjustments that can limit disruption and reduce operating costs.

Customer satisfaction – reputation is driven by quality and innovative products being delivered on time. Incorporating advanced technology can speed up manufacturing processes, improve delivery routes, and identify trends in the market.

Closer production line management – improve monitoring and troubleshooting of the shop floor by embedding technology that can transmit detailed data to management and make it easier to inspect equipment and identify repairs with less disruption.

Automation in action – case study

Black Country-based JCM Fine Joinery is a perfect example of a well-established business introducing digital elements to the design and manufacture of its high-quality customised kitchen designs.

The company, founded 30 years ago, was already using Computer Aided Design for its manufacturing, computer-controlled cutting, and Computer Numerical Control router machinery. But they knew introducing automation into their manufacturing processes was going to be necessary to fulfil their aggressive growth targets, by unlocking capacity and improving safety.

Thanks to a £20,000 grant from Made Smarter West Midlands, a manufacturing and engineering business support programme led by CW Growth Hub on behalf of the West Midlands Combined Authority, JCM Fine Joinery was able to accelerate its planned programme of change to adapt to new processes to improve productivity and efficiency by introducing a robot arm for its time consuming, manual sanding processes.

The robot arm – which has been affectionately nicknamed Sid by all the staff at JCM Fine Joinery – is already exceeding its targets to speed up the manufacturing element of the procedures and ultimately reduce lead times for customers.

Nat Macaulay, Managing Director, said: “Our skilled craftsmen have many years of experience in commercial joinery and we are known for producing high quality and functional products but it is also important we embrace cutting-edge technology and the West Midlands Made Smarter programme has helped us to achieve this.”

Business support, including programmes such as Made Smarter, are available to West Midlands based businesses. To find out what business support is available for your West Midlands based business, enquire with Business Growth West Midlands.

Contact a Business Adviser with your business support enquiry here