Bakeries are benefitting from the Made Smarter scheme that encourages businesses to adopt new technologies.
The government-backed scheme gives bakers and other businesses the opportunity to access support and a match-funding grant of up to 50% to buy and implement digital systems and equipment.
Made Smarter was formed following an industry-led review into UK manufacturing in 2017.
The review put forward four key changes to tackle the challenges faced by the sector: stronger leadership, further technology innovation, faster implementation and adoption of tools, and the identification and encouragement of the future skills required.
The scheme has dedicated advisers who can work with manufacturers to evaluate their needs based on their business, strategy, and the technology that’s most appropriate for them.
Among the systems Made Smarter can help with are:
- Enterprise resource planning systems that relate to various areas of a business such as finance/accounting, supply chain management, human resources, manufacturing and logistics
- Process control technologies that can ensure compliance as well as better team communication and collaboration
- Robotics and automation technology they could, for example, be used to precisely weigh and dispense ingredients, and cut a finished product to size.
Bakeries can apply for support either directly to the Made Smarter scheme or through their local regional Growth Hubs in the North East, North West, West Midlands & Yorkshire & Humber.
The West Midlands hub helped Shrewsbury retailer Planet Doughnut implement Cybake bakery management software earlier this year to enable a more streamlined and automated order process and allow better tracking of costs and productivity.
Asked whether working with Made Smarter had made it easier to get up and running on Cybake, Planet Doughnut director Duncan McGregor said: “I couldn’t have done it without it, that’s for sure.”
Cumbrian bakery Bells of Lazonby, winner of a Baking Industry Award last month, has used match-funding from Made Smarter to introduce two programmable ultrasonic cutting robots. The robots link to an enterprise resource planning system and are programmable to take into account customer orders, resources, and the fluctuation of the price of the ingredients.
More recently, specialist food manufacturer Firstplay Dietary Foods has invested in a powder packaging machine with grant support from Made Smarter.
The Stockport-based firm makes low-protein food for people with metabolic conditions such as phenylketonuria. Its product range includes breads, baking mixes, snacks, soups and pasta.
“Firstplay is among hundreds of manufacturers in the region grasping the opportunities offered by Made Smarter,” said North West adoption programme director Donna Edwards. “These include expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help take that first step to transform a business, and support with technology investment.”