Gary Broomhead, head of milling and robotics at Visual Architects
A company which creates immersive decor for nightclubs, festivals and brand launches, has created three new jobs and increased productivity significantly after receiving support from Made Smarter
, based in Hyde, Greater Manchester, has manufactured creative interiors and eye-catching designs for Parklife and Creamfields festivals, Adidas and The Hut Group brand launches, as well as bars, restaurants and hotels events.
But with the event industry in disarray from the pandemic and global lockdowns, Visual Architects has spent the last 15 months planning for the future.
It has been supported by the Made Smarter Adoption Programme in the North West, which helps businesses drive growth and productivity through digital tools and skills.
With the support of Made Smarter, the industry-led Government-funded programme, Visual Architects has invested in a seven-axis Kuka CNC machining robot which has transformed its design and manufacturing capability and brought 70% of previously outsourced production in-house.
The business can now work at much greater speed, reducing processes that would previously have taken seven days down to one, increasing production capacity significantly. The technology also allows limitless customisation and improved product and design, enabling Visual Architects to reach new global export markets and at least double its sales over the next three years.
Visual Architects has also created three new jobs as a result of Made Smarter’s Digital Technology internship programme, which matches students and graduates to businesses deploying technology projects.
With further support from Made Smarter, the business has developed a digital roadmap which includes plans for adopting Additive Manufacturing technology to rapidly test ideas and concepts at a lower cost, and virtual reality headsets to allow customers to experience design concepts in first person prior to construction.
With nightclubs back open and most Covid-19 rules in England now lifted, Lefteris Angelidis, managing director of Visual Architects (left), is positive about the company’s recovery and plans for growth.
He said: “Our aim is to become global experiential event creators with a manufacturing base in the UK which is capable of making cutting edge, high end products and new creations and innovations. Design and production are changing not only in clubs and festivals but across all sectors of work life and business, and we are in a position to push this even further.
“Made Smarter has been rocket fuel for our company. Its support through the pandemic and the devastating year for the events industry has helped us create a roadmap, invest in new technology and embed skills which we have no doubt will enable us to bounce back stronger and go to the next level.
Mr Lefteris believes that the timely and involved support from Made Smarter has accelerated its digitalisation by three years.
He continued: “The pandemic has been very difficult, but reflecting on what we have achieved in the last year, it turns out that this has been the pause that we needed to set in motion our plans for the future.”
“I could have spent years on my own and never got close to what we have achieved. Now with the event industry geared to open up again, we are in a really good position to drive forward our ambitions.”
Donna Edwards, North West Adoption Programme director at Made Smarter, said: “We are delighted to have provided such valuable and timely support to Visual Architects during what has been an incredibly difficult period for the business and the wider event industry.
“The company is a superb example of a Made Smarter-supported business which has identified the value technology and digital skills can bring to its operations. It has used the last 18 months to regroup and power forward with its digital transformation.
“It is among hundreds of manufacturers in the region grasping the opportunities offered by Made Smarter which include expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help take that first step to transform a business, a leadership programme, and funded digital technology internships.”