Manufacturer launches new HQ

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One of the first companies to sign up to a programme to improve the digital capabilities of smaller businesses has officially opened its new company headquarters and factory in Sandwell.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) cut the ribbon at Ramfoam’s new site on Hainge Road, Tividale which will see the business increase in size by 50%.

Ramfoam, which makes foam products for the military and other organisations, was one of the first businesses to sign up to the West Midlands Made Smarter programme which is aimed at increasing the number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) adopting digital technology in manufacturing.

Last year Ramfoam adapted its manufacturing practices to produce two million face visors a week at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Made Smarter, which was officially launched in June, is headed up by the WMCA and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands said: “The West Midlands is a shining light for UK innovation, and that has become even more apparent throughout the pandemic.

“That’s why, in partnership with BEIS, we set up the Made Smarter programme to help SMEs really make the most of our region’s digital capabilities.

“It is therefore brilliant to see companies like Ramfoam not only taking part in the programme, but also the transformative effective it has had with their new expansion. The more companies that prosper like Ramfoam, the more jobs we’ll be able to create for local people.”

So far 85 companies have asked to join Made Smarter West Midlands and 58 have started the first stages of the programme. The year-long £1.9 million programme will see digital experts provide advice to businesses – like Ramfoam – on how to switch to advanced and automated technologies as well as working to improve employees’ overall digital skills.

Tim Mulqueen, Ramfoam’s sales director, said: “The Made Smarter programme is greatly assisting SMEs with their invaluable experience. Ramfoam is now actively working with Made Smarter to apply digital technologies to our business that will enable us to manufacture smarter and improve our efficiency, and in turn generate growth.

“I believe all West Midlands SME businesses could greatly benefit from support through Made Smarter; we all as SMEs need to challenge the way we do things in order to continuously improve and innovate.”

Ramfoam was helped by WMG at the University of Warwick to scale up production from 100,000 to two million face visors a week for the Government at the height of the pandemic.

By creating a digital twin (a virtual model) Ramfoam was able to make 54 million visors over the last year. ”

The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub is leading the one-year Made Smarter scheme with the region’s other Growth Hubs in Greater Birmingham and Solihull, the Black Country, Worcestershire, The Marches, and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire on behalf of the WMCA and BEIS. The Growth Hubs are working with the WMCA and their strategic partners WMG, at the University of Warwick, and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry.

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