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Claire Scott, Technology Adoption Specialist for Made Smarter’s North West Adoption Programme, reveals the top Industrial Digital Technologies (IDTs).

The right technology can help an SME manufacturer become more productive, reduce costs, and minimise downtime.

As pioneers of the adoption programme model, we have developed expertise in the potential application of IDTs and communicated their transformative potential to manufacturers across the North West. Over 300 of the manufacturers we’ve supported have gone on to adopt technologies.

Part of Made Smarter’s aim is to cut through the jargon, informing and inspiring manufacturers about the benefits of technology adoption.

Among the popular technologies that have been adopted by North West makers are:

Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing (AM) – more commonly known as 3D printing – is the process of creating a physical object by building it layer by layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methods, such as machining.

It has transformed manufacturing by enabling cost-effective, customised production of parts, reducing waste, and accelerating prototyping. Objects that are impossible to make with any other process can now be made using 3D printing, driving innovation.

AM can also help manufacturers achieve their sustainability goals. Lightweight designs, which are impossible to manufacture with other methods cost effectively, can be produced with AM, leading to a reduction in waste produced. It can also achieve fuel savings from being able to manufacture components closer to the customer, rather than shipping them. 

Additive manufacturing could also be used to repair parts which extends a product’s life cycle – such as fan blade repair in aerospace or producing a part which isn’t in production anymore, allowing for a system or tool to be used. This can be seen in moulding tool repair.

Made Smarter has helped several manufacturer’s adopt AM. You can read their case studies here: Croft AM and Mackinnon & Saunders. Alternatively, read our blog

Adopting AM correctly needs effective planning and preparation. The Made Smarter team can give you an idea of costs and help determine the best applications for your needs. We can also introduce you to partners like Print City and ARMC NW who can work with you to perform small-scale trials.

To learn more about how AM is helping the manufacturing ecosystem with sustainability visit the Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA)

Cyber Security

Cyber security is the means by which individuals and organisations reduce the risk of becoming victims of cyber-attack.

More of a mindset and a set of procedures than a technology, its function is to protect the devices used by manufacturers such as smartphones, laptops, computers, servers, networks and IIoT connected devices, from attack or damage. It's also about preventing unauthorised access to the vast amounts of valuable data including intellectual property, data on customers and their products.

Protecting your business from cyber security risks can seem daunting but there is plenty of free help out there.

The UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) supports industry, SMEs, and the general public.  It’s A-Z of cyber security is a great place to start or you can download this Small Business Guide.

You can also read our guide to tackling cyber security.

For more information on Made Smarter technologies download our new whitepaper Powering the Digital Transformation of SME Manufacturers.