How industry placements are improving UK’s manufacturing industry

Made Smarter answers calls from government on how to UK boost productivity in the manufacturing sector by harnessing Industrial Digital Technologies (IDTs) including robotics, 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality as well as artificial intelligence.

By U2B Staff 

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By 2030 the UK will be the global leader in digital technologies that will determine how the modern world does business. The manufacturing industry, for one, is highly impacted by the revolutionisation of digital technology. A whitepaper published by technology giant, Microsoft states that the manufacturing industry is ahead of the game and has successfully incorporated various digital technology into business processes.

The publication reveals that manufacturing industries are implementing end-to-end digital transformation to achieve objectives including improving efficiency and quality, reducing costs and waste, and creating innovative products and services.

Earlier this year Lancaster University Management School, through a collaboration with Siemens, designed and delivered the Made Smarter Leadership programme. This eight-month programme was designed to equip business leaders with not only the digital skills but with the vision and systematic approach to pursuing smart manufacturing.

The Made Smarter programme is designed to help manufacturers in the UK maintain their competitive edge, with digital tools that let people make an everyday difference to their business.

Former chair of Made Smarter, Juergen Maier said that making business owners and decision-makers more aware of new technology relies on two things: sustained, easily accessible support from government and creating an improved innovation ecosystem where people are exposed to and can play with these technologies.


Digital transformation through upskilling workers in the manufacturing industry

Through several partnerships with business, programme participants engaged in special project sprints, delivered by Siemens Digital Industries. The purpose of the design sprints was to provide an avenue for the business leaders to brainstorm for new products and ideas.

These sprints significantly helped participants to implement smart manufacturing practices for their businesses.

The programme also provided them with guidelines on how to successfully bring employees and other stakeholders along on their digital transformation journey.

Dean of Lancaster University Management, Professor Angus Laing said: “The feedback from the first cohort of the Made Smarter leadership programme has been incredibly positive, re-enforcing Lancaster’s outstanding reputation for devising and delivering world-class business leadership development.”

Donna Edwards, Director of the North West Made Smarter pilot, said: “I’m delighted that the Made Smarter Leadership programme has made such a positive impact on the first cohort of business leaders in the North West.”

Edwards believes that this pioneering group of leaders has been able to successfully create a digitalisation strategy to explore how technology can improve business performance.

Participants have also had the opportunity to develop the leadership skills needed to manage operational change and employee expectations.


Providing opportunities for women through industry-placement programmes

The Made Smarter programme has also significantly increased the number of women in decision making positions.

Andrea Thompson, chair of Made Smarter Commission’s North West Pilot worked her way up from supervising on the shop floor to the top floor and is now managing director for Europe & International Programmes at BAE Systems.

The Made Smarter programme is an initiative that has been pivotal to increasing the number of female engineers in the company – of the 10,000 people working from its Lancashire site, 20% are women and this includes 500 engineers.

This fully-funded three-month student placements programme connects education and industry at an earlier stage to make women more aware of the opportunities. The eight-month leadership and management training programmes, offered in partnership with Lancaster University, offers the chance for women to lead on a company’s digitalisation transformation.

The programme offers even more positive results for women, close to 25% of starters through BAE’s UK apprenticeship programmes last year were female, while the number of women in senior management positions is rising.

“When I started in manufacturing it was another world,” she said. “I was one of the very few women going into the automotive industry – particularly the manufacturing end of it. Women’s interest in the sector just wasn’t there back then in any large numbers.”

Thompson believes by educating women on the true image of modern manufacturing, Made Smarter can play a crucial role in addressing the gender imbalance in the industry.