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Supporting Innovation and Growth in Cornish Manufacturing

2 November 2021

Business innovation support programme, Acceleration Through Innovation 2 (ATI2), is assisting a number of Cornish manufacturers within the county who are experiencing a rapid phase of growth or are needing to improve their productivity, increase efficiencies and explore new markets.

Despite demand and supply disruption driving up costs for manufacturers, the UK manufacturing industry has maintained growth throughout the pandemic. A shift to onshoring, whereby British businesses are bringing their operations back to our shores, has seen some manufacturers observe an increased demand for their services.

One such manufacturer is Daften Die-Casting, whereby 2021 was “the biggest order book that we have ever had in the history of the company”, said Mark Weedon, Director of Daften Die Casting.

ATI2 supported Daften by undertaking an innovation diagnostic to help identify the bottlenecks within the company’s existing process and pinpoint the specific stage within their production line in need of innovation. Due to the increase in orders, the manual process of sanding down the cast parts was found to be limiting Daften’s growth potential and was a labour intensive and boring task for employees.

A solution was found in automation and, as part of the innovation project, ATI2 were able to award Daften with an innovation grant to assist with the costs of purchasing a Robotic Deburring Cell.

“The main purpose of the robot was to improve health and safety, to automate the process and make it more efficient so that we can put our people onto other jobs. So we haven’t actually made anyone redundant, we’ve actually taken more people on in the last couple of months because of the increased workload” explains Mr Weedon.

The introduction of robotics has boosted productivity, reduced waste and improved product consistency for Daften.  Employee satisfaction and wellness have also increased, seeing as those members of staff no longer undertaking sanding have been retrained and redeployed to do less tedious jobs. One such example is upskilling employees to learn how to operate and code the Robotic Deburring Cell itself.

Wanting to help other businesses like Daften, ATI2 are inviting Cornish Manufacturers for breakfast at the Cornwall Hotel and Spa, St Austell, on November 25, to learn about the latest innovation trends and technologies shaping the industry’s future and changing manufacturing as we know it.

Mike Robertson, ATI2 Business Innovation Advisor and a speaker at the event, explains:

“The pandemic has caused disruption for most businesses and whilst rising costs, social distancing and resourcing are all ongoing concerns for manufacturers, many of the challenges we’ve been helping with result in innovation to improve productivity, increase efficiencies and keep up with increased demand.

Other areas where we’re able to assist include research capacity to support the development and launch of new products or to pivot existing business models to sell to new markets – there are many ways ATI2 can support businesses and I look forward to talking about it at our Make Smart event”.

Ran in partnership with Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, the Cornwall Innovation Club: Make Smart edition will feature a business update from Kim Conchie, CEO at Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, plus presentations from Paul Gilbert, SWMAS Manufacturing Specialist, and Konstantin Leonenko, from the University of Plymouth’s Digital Fabrication and Immersive Media Laboratories (DFIML), who will be showcasing their ‘Labs in a Box’ technology.

The Cornwall Innovation Club is a fully-funded membership and business networking group and forms part of the innovation support offered by ATI2, a £3.4M business support programme which is led by the University of Plymouth and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

To date, ATI2 has engaged over 320 businesses, registered 135 small to medium-sized enterprises onto the programme and awarded 29 grants to support Cornish innovation projects with a total project value of £769,856.

To find out more about ATI2 and their upcoming Make Smart event, visit www.aticornwallinnovation.co.uk/events-calendar.

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