The firm is one of 11 businesses set to benefit from a slice of £20m funding using digital technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 3D-printing and robotics to boost growth and success.
The investment is expected to bring benefits including improved productivity and revenues, increased export sales, job creation, providing new skills to workforces, integration with supply chains and reduced environmental impact.
"We have invested heavily in new products and our brand Bells and Whistles. Our sales have grown tremendously in the last 24 months and are in danger of having to turn new customers away due to the inability of our production facilities and processes to cope with any increased throughput,” said Michael Bell, MD, Bells of Lazonby.
He added, the robot installation will improve the speed of production and move staff from the cutting area to other areas in the bakery.
"The technology will improve processing time and reduce wastage leading to increased profitability, enabling the company to become more competitive," said Bell.
The 11 firms signed up to the Made Smarter project follow nine other manufacturers who are already a part of the pilot, and aims to engage with over 3,000 manufacturing SMEs in the North West.
11 firms signed up to the pilot scheme are:
- Bell Mount Farms, Penrith
- Blends Holdings, Knowsley
- Lowlife Products, Bollington
- Handrail Creations, Bolton
- Bells of Lazonby, Lazonby
- Plastic Card Services, Macclesfield
- Cadscan, Chester
- Lancashire Farm Dairies, Rochdale
- Fabricon Design, Ashton-Under-Lyne
- Len Wright Salads, Tarleton
- Eggbase, Sedburgh
North West pilot
Donna Edwards, director, Made Smarter North West pilot, said businesses are enthusiastic about the benefits of adopting new digital technology.
“Often, they need funding support, but also the specialist advice and insight to help them select the right approach for their business,” she added.
“It’s interesting to see the range of businesses and sub-sectors the successful applicants have come from and the technologies they have selected.
“Made Smarter is relevant for any North West SMEs employing less than 250 staff who make, create, manufacture or engineer.”
Nadhim Zahawi, Minister for Business and Industry said the Made Smarter Programme is enabling manufacturers across the North West to access advanced digital technologies driving growth and increasing productivity while reducing costs.
“The 11 companies will not only reap the benefits themselves, the investment will support a multi-million-pound boost to the local economy, keeping the region at the forefront of the latest innovations. They join 24 businesses who have received project funding to date, and I would urge others to follow in their footsteps,” she added.
Up to 600 North West firms will also qualify for more in-depth support including mentoring from senior industry figures, a leadership and management programme designed to support leaders to implement digital change, and match-funded grants towards the cost of software or hardware.