Business support programme LCR 4.0 has helped 197 SMEs in the manufacturing space and created more than 22 high value jobs across Liverpool City Region since launching two years ago.

LCR 4.0 – which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – enables manufacturers and SME’s to explore the opportunities and challenges of Industry 4.0 (4IR) technologies, such as big data, systems integration, internet of things (IoT) and augmented reality (AR).

More than a quarter of companies supported through the programme have been start-ups, surpassing the target of 41 with a further 10 months to go until the project comes to an end.

Dr Andy Levers, technical director at the Virtual Engineering Centre and LCR 4.0 lead, said: “LCR 4.0 has helped a raft of start-ups across Liverpool City Region increase productivity, reduce costs, and pioneer first-of-its-kind innovations.”

For the second year running, systems integration has been identified as the most popular technology among manufacturers, with 26% deploying it through LCR 4.0.

Systems integration enables businesses to combine digital and physical assets to increase connectivity, ensuring that maximum value is achieved in the manufacturing process.

The project has seen 24% of businesses combining 4IR technologies, such as AR and simulation equipment, to increase efficiencies and assess production challenges.

A total of 13 new products have gone to market over the past two years, and an additional 36 new products have been introduced to firms.

LCR 4.0 provides fully-funded support to SMEs within Liverpool City Region, which includes Halton, Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, Knowsley and St Helens.

The project is now calling for more sub-regional businesses to get in touch to find out how they can benefit from LCR 4.0 before it ends next year.

“It’s vital that traditional manufacturers across the city region are aware of industry 4.0 technologies, so they can reap these benefits and stay one step ahead of their competitors. That’s where LCR 4.0 comes in,” Andy Levers said.

The LCR 4.0 programme was hailed an ‘exemplar project’ by last year’s Made Smarter report, helping to shape the Made Smarter Pilot.

The £20m initiative – designed to embed advanced digital technology across the North West’s manufacturing sector – was launched at Digital Manufacturing Week, which brought together 6,000 manufacturing executives to the Liverpool City Region.

Simon Reid, head of advanced manufacturing at the Liverpool City Region Liverpool Enterprise Partnership, said: “The work that we’ve seen from the LCR 4.0 programme to date is extremely encouraging. It proves that there is more awareness, and integration, of emerging technology in the SME community.

“With the Made Smarter pilot up and running as a vital part of the Government’s industrial strategy, we’re now calling for more businesses to get involved with the LCR 4.0 programme to take advantage of the support on offer, before the project ends in September 2019.”

LCR 4.0 is delivered in partnership with the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), Liverpool John Moores University, Sensor City, STFC Hartree Centre and the Liverpool City Region LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership).

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