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Blog: How manufacturers can begin their digital journey

Blog Growth Hub Manufacturing 03/05/2022

Helping SMEs realise the benefits of digital technology

In this blog, Anthony Walker, Strategic Manager at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) details how manufacturing businesses can discover and explore the benefits of digital technology through CW 4.0.

Background Challenge

We live in a world where technology, digital technology is exerting more impact on every aspect of our lives than ever before with technological advances enabling change in the way we live, work and socialise. With this digital revolution already underway, the adoption of such technologies is clearly the way of the future.

Adapting to new technology and fully leveraging its features is imperative to a modern organisation to remain competitive. However, the truth is there are many different challenges that an organisation faces before they can truly embrace digital technology.

The world of ‘digital’ is broad and often misunderstood, and the connection of this technology across sectors has the potential to be of step-change importance to the UK economy.

Specifically, for SMEs, they need specialised support and assistance. We see digital as the key enabling technology to drive economic growth in SMEs across different sectors. This will enable SMEs to be more flexible, agile and to react to opportunities more rapidly leading to increased productivity and improved competitiveness.


A key mechanism for how CW 4.0 help SMEs to realise the benefits of adopting digital technology is to demonstrate this in practice.  The Industry Innovation Zone at LJMU demonstrates the benefits of adopting Industry 4.0 solutions, showing that incremental steps can be made along the digital journey, which can be both timely & cost effective with immediate positive impact.

This development is as a direct result of the recognition that for SMEs in particular:

  • Industry 4.0 mean different things to different people (there is not ‘one’ solution)
  • There is a lack of clarity on Return on Investment from adopting Industry 4.0

To show that Industry 4.0 is achievable and isn’t just jargon but can open new opportunities for industry.


CW4.0 is tailored specifically to the manufacturing sector in Cheshire & Warrington and delivered by organisations based in the North West. CW4.0 is delivered by a group of expert partners with over a decade of experience helping manufacturing businesses to explore, adapt to adopt new technology.

The CW 4.0 de-mystifies the complex world of digital technology and de-risks innovation, working with our partners to build sustainable relationships we never lose sight that implementing new technologies needs to have a return on investment or open up new opportunities for economic growth

The collective assets within CW 4.0 have come together to support SMEs across a whole variety of technologies. We have teams of experts in areas such as VR, Additive Manufacturing, Integration of sensors, drone technology, utilisation of data, connectivity and cyber security

CW 4.0 will diagnose your challenges with you and develop a suite of solutions in a timely fashion that will have a practical and positive impact on your business.

Anthony Walker – Strategic Manager and Lead on Industry Innovation for Digital Technology at LJMU states:

“The CW4.0 project looks at challenges through the lens of an engineer and our hands on, practical support provides solutions that are relevant and crucial to help industrial SMEs realise their growth potential. CW4.0 is not traditional business support, it is a collection of world class assets and facilities with tailored support around digital technology and innovation to provide solutions to the 21st Century challenges facing modern SMEs”.

Paula Brennan – Research Engineer at LJMU, delivering on the CW4.0 project added:

“By engaging with the knowledge base this provides SMEs with resource, new thinking and access to academic experts in digital technology. At LJMU there are teams of researchers with specialist knowledge of Industry 4.0 technologies “.

Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, CW4.0 brings together the combined expertise and capabilities of the Virtual Engineering Centre (University of Liverpool), Liverpool John Moores University, the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Northern Automotive Alliance.

Find out more about CW 4.0 here