A pair of local manufacturing pioneers have become two of the first companies in the UK to enrol on a new, £20m government-backed business support programme to boost productivity and growth.
Demonstrating their desire to transform their businesses by adopting new digital technologies, Graham Engineering Ltd (GEL) in Nelson and T&R Precision Engineering in Colne are amongst just nine North West companies to successfully apply for Made Smarter funding, allowing them to explore new manufacturing methods in the realms of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 3D-printing, and robotics.
GEL, a family-owned firm which specialises in the welding and fabrication of complex stainless steel solutions for the nuclear, aerospace, health and security sectors, is out to become more competitive and flexible as a result of the grant, which will allow them to invest in new digital technology including AI.
“As a forward-thinking business, we will speed up the process of taking customers’ requirements through from design to manufacture and delivery," said Paul Ashworth, GEL's IT Manager. "Efficient and systematic working processes with reduced scrappage will lead to increased profitability enabling the company to remain competitive.
"The next generation of engineers expect and demand cutting-edge technologies in their workplace," Paul added. "This investment will help to embed the perception of our organisation as a high-tech, innovative company with a vision for growth through sustained quality and diversification."
Looking ahead to the future themselves, T&R Precision Engineering in Foulridge produces parts for the aerospace sector and is looking to IIoT, automation, systems integration, data analytics, and cloud services to enhance their current machinery.
Believing the change will massively increase productivity and efficiency as well as a revenue growth of 33% over the next three years, the company are focused on the US market and predict that the reduction in machinery will also cut power consumption and the firm's carbon footprint.
Tim Maddison, Managing Director at T&R Precision Engineering, said: “This project will lead to a critical advancement in our machining capability. New machining methods and component handling along with the integration of IT software will push the boundaries of our current manufacturing thinking."