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Made Smarter manufacturer uses robotics to navigate COVID-19

Storth robot welder

A Cumbrian manufacturer, supported by Made Smarter, is using emerging technologies to navigate the impact on business from the coronavirus pandemic.

Storth, a manufacturer of agricultural machinery for slurry management, worked with Made Smarter to introduce a robotic welding system into its production line to reduce delivery times and maintain quality.

The technology also allowed the Holme-based business to continue operating when welding staff were self-isolating.

Julian Lopez, Export Manager at Storth said: “Our adoption of a robot welder, through support from Made Smarter has been a success from day one. We were experiencing bottlenecks within our welding process which was causing delays in schedules. The robot has helped us overcome the delays but also helped us to continue operations at a time when some of our welders have been self-isolating, which has caused staff shortages.”

Storth is now looking at introducing automation to operate unsupervised cutting and feeding machining.

Businesses signed up to the North West pilot to support the Industry 4.0 revolution have adapted in a variety of ways, including switching production to make medical scrubs, ventilator parts and PPE to help the front-line fight against the disease.

Others have harnessed new capabilities to ramp up production to meet increasing demand and continue operating while staff self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While Made Smarter has shut its offices to do its bit to combat COVID-19, its team of expert business and technology advisers have continued to offer support and advice virtually.

Alain Dilworth, programme manager for Made Smarter

Alain Dilworth, Made Smarter Programme Manager, said: “The COVID-19 outbreak has widespread repercussions for the economy, which will have most likely led to uncertainty in terms of the way businesses operate.

“It has been impressive how manufacturers have reacted and adapted to the different circumstances they find their businesses facing.

“Made Smarter has been able to continue offering help and advice over Skype and telephone.

“Our advice is fully funded, meaning you can understand the digital tools available to help boost processes and grow your enterprise without the financial barrier. On top of this, you can apply for up to 50% match-funding for technology implementation and access a digital technology intern to support you with the research, development and implementation of emerging technologies.”

Made Smarter has also produced an essential guide about how a manufacturing SME can try and maintain continuity and future-proof the business. The PDF can be downloaded from here.

A new Made Smarter LinkedIn forum for the manufacturing community to share their challenges and help solve problems with the support of peers, is also due to launch on May 4.

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