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Government-backed project to boost Yorkshire manufacturers‘ productivity


A taskforce of academics, bankers and consultants is helping 20 Yorkshire manufacturers to boost their productivity, as part of a government-backed project researching how firms in the region can increase their output.

Packaging machinery at the Greyhound Box factory

The year-long scheme, which is being co-led by Leeds Beckett University, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, management consultants Fluere and accountants Kirk Newsholme, has been backed by a £60,000 grant from Innovate UK.

The project aims to give businesses the understanding and tools needed to measure their own productivity and to develop an effective improvement plan.

The project comes as figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that output per hour in Yorkshire and the Humber has fallen by 2.5 per cent, sitting 16.5 per cent behind the national average, making it the second least productive region in the UK.

Dr Ollie Jones, Principal Lecturer in Operations, Enterprise and Supply Chain Management at Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, said: “Productivity is a hot topic in business management, but the truth is many companies are in the dark on the best way for them to measure it, let alone make improvements.

“We are working alongside local firms to help give them the means of doing this; for example, enabling them to spot where time can be saved from an order being placed to delivering the product to a customer. This is one of many focus areas where companies can release capacity to drive greater output.”

The project also aims to create more aligned, enhanced ways for businesses’ day-to-day advisers, such as banking relationship manager or accountants, to help identify and narrow productivity gaps.

Dave Moore, Relationship Director at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “In manufacturing particularly, there’s a lot of noise around emerging, productivity-boosting technologies like AI, automation, and robotics under Industry 4.0.

“But before businesses turn to high-tech solutions, they need to be confident of where they’ll reap the biggest gains, which will help them to speed up recovery post-lockdown and longer-term too. This project is a major step forward in that respect and will provide significant learnings that the region’s manufacturers can apply across the board.”

Louise O’Brien, Managing Director at cardboard packaging business Greyhound Box, one of the manufacturers participating in the scheme, added: “Productivity is a key pillar within our long-term growth strategy and a focus we share with the majority of the region’s manufacturers. It’s therefore vital that we, as an industry, continue to work with higher education and private partners to unlock additional economic growth.”

In addition to the project, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking currently has a degree apprenticeship post with Leeds Beckett, specialising in productivity. The bank also has a national partnership with not-for-profit organisation, Be the Business, to help support businesses to boost their performance.

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