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Turn pain into empowerment with a digitalisation plan

09 December 2022

SME manufacturers in the food and drink sector are being urged to start planning for next Christmas by exploring how technology can help with the seasonal surge. 

While production is in full swing to meet the festive season demands, many food producers are facing a multitude of challenges – including rising energy prices, supply chain disruption and labour shortages.

However, according to Made Smarter, changing consumer habits towards more sustainable products, online shopping and supporting small businesses instead of large corporations are also creating opportunities for growth.

Made Smarter, is a collaboration between the UK government and industry supporting the adoption of digital technologies, has produced a free downloadable guide to help demystify digitalisation and drive technology adoption. The document titled β€˜Is digital technology the key to success during busy periods such as Christmas?’ includes topics such as how digital tools can help: plan production and capacity, oversee and manage the workforce, forecast demand, and inventory needs, manage stock levels and optimise picking, and automate the packaging process.

The guide also has case studies of Made Smarter-supported manufacturers who are seeing the benefits of investing in technology which is helping them cope with increasing demand during busy periods.

Seven Bro7hers Brewery, based in Salford, for example, is investing to automate its packaging line which will increase productivity, capacity and enable staff to focus on value-added jobs. The technology will also give it a significant amount of data on production line performance, which will support decision-making.

Ye Olde Friars, a chocolate maker in Cumbria, has also benefited from automation, replacing the manual, repetitive and incredibly time-consuming process of filling moulds with chocolate. As a result, they can produce 700% more chocolate and respond more swiftly to larger orders.

Other manufacturers have invested in software to enable efficient planning, effective inventory monitoring, and a view of the supply chain.

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