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The investment, supported by Made Smarter’s North West Adoption programme, has seen the installation of data and system integration tools that link key business operations including order processing, manufacturing, stock control, sales, distribution and accounting.

The new tech has replaced traditional manual, paper-based processes to help speed up communications within the business and allow staff to focus on more high-value tasks.

Along with these time saving benefits, the investment has also helped Lakes Ice Cream to decarbonise by reducing its paper usage and optimise delivery routes to reduce fuel use.

Digitalisation and integration

James Stephens, managing director, said: “The technology investment which was matched funded by Made Smarter, has had an incredible impact, making everything easier. What we have achieved so far really demonstrates the substantial benefits that digitalisation and integration make.

“We have a small team so time is extremely precious, so to squeeze more productivity wherever you can is fantastic. What’s more, our employees see these benefits as it allows them to learn new skills and enjoy their work more.”

Lakes Ice Cream is also looking to invest in automated packaging machinery, with plans to embed this technology into a new factory further down the line.

“We want to take the business to the next level. That means a new factory and cold store, new automated machinery and new vehicles,”​ Stephens added.

Foundations for scale

“At the heart of those changes will be a software system that integrates all aspects of our business and lays the foundations for scale.”