BUSINESS leaders from Knutsford and Winsford are among the first in the country to embark on a leadership programme designed to equip them with the vision and skills to pursue smarter manufacturing.

They are part of the Made Smarter Leadership Programme, run in collaboration with Lancaster University Management School and the Government-backed £20 million Made Smarter initiative for north west manufacturers.

Alan Ryan, managing director of Technoprint in Winsford, Gerry Weston from DT Engineering in Widnes, Peter Phillips, IT director for Abbey England in Knutsford, and Alex Lattimer from Flexitallic in Ellesmere Port are among 12 business leaders from the region who have embarked on an eight-month leadership programme involving workshops, site visits to ‘smart’ SME manufacturers around the region and facilitated-learning sessions.

Alan Ryan said the programme had been broad, relevant and helpful.

“Seeing what you can achieve through digitalisation is mind-blowing and exactly what we want to aim towards,” he said.

“I’ve also been impressed with the emphasis on the role of people in this journey, which is important.

“The most significant attribute I am finding is how powerful it is to have a group of other manufacturers all at the start of their journeys, working through this together. It has been very inspiring.”

Peter Phillips said: “We have started to engage with Made Smarter on some potential technologies, so thought this programme was a good idea.

“The early part of the programme has been fantastic, focusing on the digital strategy and preparing us for the more technological aspects. I can already see things that will benefit us and that we can apply to our business.

“Our manufacturing business is quite backwards technologically, because we are a traditional manufacturer, so we realise we have a long way to go, but we are taking small steps.”