SME manufacturers in the Northwest are using data and systems integration technology as the driving force behind their digital transformation and growth ambitions, new analysis from Made Smarter shows. 


More than half (159) of the 275 technology projects supported by Made Smarter's Northwest adoption programme focussed on digital technologies which connect disparate systems and unify data residing in different sources.


As a result of integrating systems and consolidating data sources, business leaders have achieved real-time visualisation of their processes. They have also been able to spot trends in production and labour, correct maintenance and quality issues, and minimise safety, business risk and operational downtime throughout their production. 


One in five are adopting robotics and process control automation, while seven per cent are investing in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), using sensors to collect critical production data to gain valuable insights about the efficiency of operations. Others are adopting additive manufacturing to reduce waste and fast track prototyping, while some are using immersive technologies to add value to their services. 


Meanwhile, early adopters who have already captured data are now focussed on analytics and artificial intelligence to get more insight and value from their manufacturing operations.


Alain Dilworth, programme manager for the Made Smarter’s Northwest adoption programme, said:

“Data and analytics are central to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, so it is encouraging that so many of this region's makers are embracing the opportunities that these tools offer.

"Capturing the data from across their processes and bringing it all together in one place is a vital first step for many manufacturers looking to solve problems and recognise opportunities. It also becomes a platform for the next step, one which some are already taking, is to analyse the data using artificial intelligence."