The Made Smarter Adoption Programme in the North West, a collaboration between UK government and industry designed to support the increased use of digital technologies, has worked with dozens of SMEs across the entire supply chain from farm to fork to capitalize on the multitude of benefits that digitalisation offers.
These include: cheese and yogurt makers; salad, fruit and potato growers; bakers, confectioners, and dessert manufacturers; breweries; health and nutrition producers; as well as businesses making baby food, black pudding, flavorings, and pet food.
Through impartial technology advice and match funding on technology projects, digital transformation workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps, a leadership program, digital technology internships, and skills development, it is helping businesses in the sector increase productivity, achieve sustainable growth, and create new high value jobs.
Digital transformation has also proven to be critical to food and drink manufacturers of all sizes over the last 18 months, with the combined impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, Brexit, and the drive towards net zero.
Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses, in Preston, has been wrestling with supply chain disruption during the pandemic.
Matthew Hall, commercial director, said investing in software systems enabled the business to be more flexible and agile.
“As an artisan producer we are about innovation, it’s in our DNA,” Hall said.
“That includes the manufacturing process which can be labor intensive but adds value to that finished product, but then there are other auxiliary processes which are labor intensive but don’t add value.