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Events Set To Improve Efficiency For Local Businesses

Making sure local business practices are Lean, Smart and digitally adept is the aim of a series of unique events and opportunities soon to be delivered in Whanganui.

The programmes will enable businesses to improve their efficiency and productivity by helping them become familiar with and adapt new technologies and proven operational models to their existing practices.  

Whanganui & Partners is facilitating the events, which consist of a Lean Group Workshop, a Digital Manufacturing Challenge, Smart Factory Showcase, and Mobile Showcase from Industry 4.0, and two co-funded Smart Industry Readiness Index (SIRI) assessment opportunities.  

Whanganui & Partners has worked with Callaghan Innovation, the government’s innovation agency, and Auckland University of Technology to bring the Lean Workshop to Whanganui.  

Tim Easton, Strategic Lead for Business, said the workshop had previously been held in Palmerston North but Whanganui & Partners wanted to make the workshop was more accessible for local businesses.

The workshop will help businesses minimise waste, maximise efficiency and make continual improvements to processes, using the ‘Lean’ methods and philosophies that transformed the modern manufacturing industry.  

Primarily aimed at manufacturing businesses, the workshop will be suitable for staff at all levels throughout an organisation and can connect businesses to Callaghan’s Lean grants, which offer 40 per cent co-funding towards the implementation of Lean practices in local businesses, Easton said. The price for the Lean Workshop is $200+gst per person.

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Whanganui & Partners has also worked with Callaghan to deliver three free innovation events in Whanganui, under its Industry 4.0 programme. These will include a Digital Manufacturing Challenge on April 23, a Smart Factory Showcase on May 2, and an Industry 4.0 Mobile Showcase on May 16.  

The three events will be held at The Backhouse on Taupō Quay, a hub for technology innovation and education in Whanganui. Easton said the Digital Manufacturing Challenge would provide a hands-on experience with varying levels of new technology.

In the free three-hour gamified session, teams of 2-10 staff members will use a budget to make the best technology investment decisions for a continuous batch-food manufacturing digital factory, before justifying their investment to gain points.

“The teams will need to critically analyse potential ‘returns on investment’ and pain points. They’ll get a hands-on experience with new and familiar technology and learn to apply strategy across operations from order receipt to fulfilment,” Easton said.  

“Most importantly, businesses will get the opportunity to test and learn about cutting edge technologies and processes being used around the world, and how they might apply them to their own business, all from trusted independent sources.”

Each group would also leave with a personalised reference pack to enable them to continue their Industry 4.0 implementation.  

The Smart Factory Showcase will take attendees on a virtual tour of Nautech, a leading electronic design manufacturer based in Auckland. Nautech has integrated Industry 4.0 systems and technology across its highly productive factory processes.

“This will be an eye-opening experience for local manufacturing leaders and their teams,” Easton said. “It will help businesses understand how integrating systems and technology improves agility and enables quick decision-making.  

After attending one of these sessions in Wellington recently, Easton said he could see the obvious direct benefits that could be made to businesses in Whanganui.

The third free Industry 4.0 event is a Mobile Showcase which will be relevant across sectors, particularly to manufacturers operating industrial facilities and food processing and to supporting supply and distribution sectors.

The Showcase is an interactive event that allows attendees to learn and imagine what is possible with available technologies. These technologies include ‘digital twins’, ‘internet of things’, collaborative robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, and 3D printing.  

Digital twins technology uses data collected by sensors to provide a business with real-time status updates on its product and processes, as well as going through ‘what-if?’ scenarios without putting assets at risk.

The ‘internet of things’ refers to a network of physical devices, vehicles, appliances, and other physical objects – also known as ‘smart objects’ – that are embedded with sensors, software, and network connectivity, allowing them to collect and share data.

Rounding out the offerings, Whanganui & Partners are providing two co-funded SIRI assessments for local manufacturing businesses through LMAC (Leading Manufacturing Accelerating Change).  

“If you’re ready to consider Industry 4.0 applications in your business, a SIRI assessment is a great first step to help you maximise your investment and ensure you’re focussing on the right areas,” Easton said.  

Easton encouraged business owners interested in applying for the co-funded assessments or taking part in the Lean workshop and Industry 4.0 events, to get in touch with Whanganui & Partners or go to to register.

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