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An additional £1.3 million of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding will enable the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) DigitME2 project to support the county’s businesses in adapting to the impact of Industry 4.0 and the utilisation of industrial digital technologies.

The successful business support initiative, based at UCLan’s Burnley Campus, aims to assist Lancashire’s manufacturing SMEs in achieving growth through increased productivity, and has been extended for a further three years.

Launched by the University as DigitME in 2011, the project’s team of multi-skilled engineers provides companies with data analytics support, including the collection of data, to identify the most suitable solutions to meet the needs of the business.

The programme also assists in the identification and implementation of new technologies and processes, in addition to raising awareness of available grants, resulting in the business becoming more efficient and productive.

Further areas of expertise include the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, automation and additive layer manufacturing.

Part funded by the ERDF, the programme has links to Boost; Lancashire’s business growth hub. To date, it has provided support to more than 100 businesses.

Blackburn based Darwen Terracotta, which manufactures bespoke terracotta products for use in the construction industry, received support through the project. Steve Allen, Managing Director, said: ‘’Working with UCLan has proved invaluable for our business. The DigitME2 team provide a service that takes the time to understand our operation and then apply the knowledge they possess to seek out new technology and innovations that will aid our manufacturing operation.

‘’The scanning and printing processes are something we can now take forward into the production environment to both compliment the skills of our workforce and reduce costs.”

Geoff Hall, Project Manager at DigitME2, said: “The extra funding means we can continue to provide much needed support to Lancashire’s manufacturing SMEs to enable them to understand and embrace Industry 4.0, as well as preparing for future developments.

“The programme is significant as increasing productivity within manufacturing SMEs is a key priority, not only for Lancashire, but the UK as a whole, and there are many benefits to be had from that.

“With the University’s Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC) nearing completion, this is an important time for the county’s SMEs to really take advantage of a number of valuable opportunities available to them.”

For more information about DigitME2, contact Michelle Arthur, Project Administrator, on 01772 896040 or Digitmeproject@uclan.ac.uk or visit https://www.uclan.ac.uk/business_at_uclan/digitme.php.