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Manufacturer of explosion safe equipment secures support from Made Smarter

13 December 2021

Extronics, a manufacturer of explosion safe equipment, has secured support from Made Smarter’s trailblazing technology adoption programme in the North West. The programme which supports SMEs with digital tools and skills marked its third anniversary by helping its 200th business drive growth and decarbonise through digitalisation.

Extronics, based in Middlewich, is a designer and manufacturer of intrinsically safe and explosion proof equipment including wireless technologies, is among the latest wave of manufacturers starting their journey to use technology to benefit their business, their bottom line and the environment.

It is using data and systems integration technologies to drive productivity.

Nick Saunders, Operations Director, said: "Working with Made Smarter has been a fantastic experience. We have been able to develop our digital transformation strategy and subsequently secure support for a technology project which will have a significant impact on the business.

"We have invested in automation to replace the manual process of designing highly configurable wireless products. It means that at a click of a button, software automatically creates a quote, a Bill of Materials, and schedules production. It reduces a process from 10 hours to 10 minutes which not only makes us more efficient and productive, but enables our team to work on higher value work."
Since launching in 2018, Made Smarter has engaged with 1,381 businesses from every corner of the region to help them introduce digital tools and technologies to help boost productivity and growth, navigate Covid-19, and tackle climate change.
670 have reaped the rewards of intensive support including expert, impartial technology advice, 248 have used digital transformation workshops to help take their first steps to transform their business, and 56 business leaders have developed the vision and the skills to pursue smarter manufacturing through the Made Smarter Leadership programme, developed in partnership with Lancaster University. 

Meanwhile, manufacturers have benefited from funded digital technology internships which offer students and graduates paid placements to work on live technology projects. 
Across the wider North West, Made Smarter’s £4.6M matched funding for 241 projects, worth £16M after private sector investment, will potentially create 1,177 new jobs, 2,205 upskilled roles, and an additional £192.9M in GVA.
Technologies that integrate systems, capture and analyse data, and even create simulations of their plants and processes, are being used to drive efficiencies and reduce waste. Meanwhile, 3D-printing, automation, and robotics are being used to solve business challenges and meet increased demand.
Over 80% of SMEs working with Made Smarter to adopt cutting-edge technologies have seen a boost in productivity, while others have benefited from increase in revenue and exports, job creation and providing new skills to workforces, as well as improved visibility and enhanced integration with supply chains. More than 25% reduced their carbon emissions, while others cut energy bills, reduced waste, and became more environmentally sustainable.

Donna Edwards, Director of the Made Smarter Adoption Programme in the North West, said: 
“Over the last three years we have worked extremely hard to drive digital technology usage among makers across the North West. We have engaged with 1,381 SMEs in the region to help them start their digital journey by providing them with specialist advice to help them select the right approach, level of investment and tools for their business.

“We have seen huge success with Made Smarter-supported businesses reporting growth, productivity and efficiency gains, as well as upskilling their workforce and creating new high-value jobs. We’re also playing a crucial role in helping the UK grow sustainably and reach its ambitious aim of net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050. 

“Digitalisation enables businesses to find the sustainability sweet spot between these economic, social, and environmental goals. We look forward to continuing our drive to enable hundreds more manufacturers in Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, and Liverpool City Region to learn how digital transformation can help them recover, grow, and create resilience.”

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