SUPPORTING industry’s recovery from the impact of the pandemic is a key priority for the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).
The University has a track record for working with industry through knowledge transfer, research innovation, workforce development and by providing a ready pipeline of skilled students and graduates, in partnership with employers.
In addition, UWTSD’s MADE Cymru initiative was established to support manufacturing industries in Wales to adapt to the challenges of Industry 4.0.
The initiative, funded by the EU via the Welsh Government, aims to support the economic recovery of manufacturers in Wales by offering part and fully funded training to businesses to upskill staff, as well as research and development that improves processes and products to reduce waste and costs.
In addition, UWTSD and MADE Cymru have organised an Industry Summit to be held online between June 8-10 to inform, engage and inspire businesses during this critical period of post-Covid recovery.
Expert speakers will be sharing their insights including James Davies from Industry Wales, Carol Hall, Regional Investment Manager, Development Bank of Wales, Chris Probert, Innovation Specialist, Welsh Government and Geraint Jones, Knowledge Transfer Adviser at KTN.
The line-up also includes Welsh manufacturers who will be sharing their own experiences, including Tim Hawkins, Managing Director, Markes International, Julia Chesney-Roberts, Commercial Manager, Riversimple, Angus Grahame, Founder of Splosh and Jacques Bonfrer, Co-Founder and Team Lead, Bot-Hive.
There will be guest talks from circular economy expert Eoin Bailey and lean author Daryl Powell and an opportunity to find out about the range of services offered by the University.
Graham Howe, Executive Head of the MADE Cymru project at UWTSD says: “This Industry Summit aims to explore issues and challenges facing manufacturing in Wales so that we can work together with employers to find solutions.
“We always start with asking a manufacturer what their biggest problem is today and look at how we can help them with it.
“We aim to unravel potentially confusing challenges like these. Our approach begins by looking at what companies need to increase their productivity and competitiveness.
“We aim to lead the businesses we work with through a journey of continuous improvement – a journey that makes the most of Industry 4.0 technologies and their ever-growing digital capabilities to help solve the specific problems faced by each company.
“All of the feedback we receive from businesses shapes our curriculum – we want to produce employable, digitally literate graduates who can contribute to their workplace from day one”.
Alison Orrells is CEO and Managing Director of Safety Letterbox and has been one of the organisations participating in the MADE Cymru initiative.
She said: “It was important to keep innovating and investing to set us apart and come out stronger. It’s been intense but we had a game plan – now it is all about business future-proofing, being agile, collaborations and being adaptable.”
Covid-19 has affected every part of a business and shifted the focus from production to survival.
UWTSD recently led a round table discussion with Welsh manufacturers about the future of manufacturing in Wales.
That discussion found that their outlook is positive about the future.
Manufacturers accelerated their adoption of new technologies to enhance and optimise production.
With many employees on furlough, managers took the opportunity to rethink and invest in better IT, particularly communications, training and diversified into new product areas. They looked to local colleges and universities to help shift perceptions of jobs in manufacturing and demonstrated the career opportunities and pathways available.
They also loosened their reliance on overseas imports and looked for suppliers in the UK to minimise future risk of disruption.
All sessions of the Industry Summit are free to attend and places can be booked on the UWTSD website: https://uwtsd.ac.uk/made/made-cymru-industry-summit/
Wiltshire Farm Foods Carmarthen Unites Customers with World’s First Closed Loop Recycling Scheme
LOCAL business Wiltshire Farm Foods Carmarthen has always pledged to make a difference to its customers, with its good old fashioned delivery service and delicious ready meals. Now, it’s making a difference to the planet with a trailblazing recycling scheme – the first of its kind in the world.
The company has introduced 100% recyclable trays, alongside a recycling collection service for its customers, which involves collecting washed, used trays directly from customers and sending them back to a specialist recycling facility in Durham.
Here, they are broken down to create brand new trays which are then redistributed to customers. It is this closed loop nature of the recycling process which makes Wiltshire Farm Foods the first company in the world to adopt the scheme on an industrial scale.
Carmarthen office supervisor, Kirsty Davies, is delighted to be rolling out this initiative to her customers across Swansea, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Fishguard:
“Not only is the scheme easy for our customers to be a part of, as they simply hand their trays back to their drivers (just like the milkman used to take away empty bottles) we have also given them peace of mind that they know exactly where their trays are going. We are hopeful that our customers will embrace this initiative, so that together we can play a crucial role in helping the environment.”
Alarmingly, 61% of UK plastic recycling is exported, according to a survey conducted by RECOUP, which means there’s uncertainty around where our plastic actually ends up. Wiltshire Farm Foods guarantees that every tray collected from its customers in Carmarthenshire and right across the UK will be recycled into new trays, so embracing a system which keeps waste and products in use, as opposed to disposing of them.
This commitment to protecting the environment has always been something of a mission for the company, especially with its packaging. It’s one of the few food companies which doesn’t use any secondary packaging such as cardboard sleeves or wrap arounds on its meals, not wanting to create excessive and needless waste. Furthermore, the boxes that meals are delivered in, are taken away by the drivers and recycled. The only thing left behind are the film lids.
Chair & CEO, apetito UK & North America, Paul Freeston, says sister company, Wiltshire Farm Foods, is focused on targeting the ‘zero-packaging’ ready meal:
“As a food company, we’ve taken a serious approach when it comes to reducing waste with our packaging. It’s why we’ve never used cardboard sleeves for our meals, so the only thing we leave with the customer is the film lid. We think it’s time for other retailers to ditch the cardboard sleeve completely, so that, together, we can minimise household recycling requirements and prevent unnecessary waste. We leave just 3% of the packaging behind, compared to a weeks’ worth of ready meals from other suppliers.”
Milford Haven-based Ann Walker, 88, has been a customer for three years and applauds the new recycling scheme:
“It’s fantastic to know that I’m doing my bit to help the environment and Wiltshire Farm Foods has made it so easy for me. I can just hand the used trays back to my lovely driver, Paul, and look forward to my meals the following week, safe in the knowledge that nothing has gone to landfill.
“Paul tells me that for every 100 trays recycled we’ll be saving the equivalent of boiling water for 175 cups of tea! When he put it like that, it made me feel very proud I was doing my bit for the environment.”
Damaged pipe found to be the cause of the Afon Lliedi disappearance
A DAMAGED sewer pipe is now thought to have halted the flow of the Afon Lliedi in the Llanerch area of Llanelli on 16 August.
Natural Resources Wales officers have been on site continuously in shift pattern monitoring the dam and the pumps they had installed to pump water around the hole and back into the river channel downstream.
Coal Authority officers attended the incident early on Tuesday (Aug 17) morning and found that the hole was not a sinkhole as had previously been suspected.
After receiving confirmation that the site was stable, NRW officers investigated and found that a damaged pipe was at the base of the hole that was taking the water flow. After working with Welsh Water colleagues, it was confirmed that the pipe is a sewer pipe.
Ioan Williams, NRW Duty Tactical Manager for South West Wales said: “By pumping the river flow downstream and beyond the hole, our officers on site have been able to restore a good level of flow to the Lliedi. I’m very grateful to them for their quick and effective work.
“We will carry out a fish assessment of the river see if further fish have died due to a lack of water flow. We know that approximately 50 fish had died before we installed the dam and pumping equipment, and we expect that our actions have limited further damage to fish and other aquatic life in the Lliedi.
“Although unusual, a pipe such as this could well be capable of removing a large majority of river flow when the river is in low flow as was the Lliedi. Once the repair is in place, we will monitor water levels in the river.”
Discussions are ongoing between NRW, Welsh Water and Carmarthenshire County Council on the best way to repair and protect the damaged pipe and on when the closed bridge can be reopened. Once repaired, the dam and pumping equipment will be dismantled which will allow the natural flow of the river to resume.
The pumps and lights are expected to be operating overnight and are due to be removed on Wednesday 18 August.
100% Sir Gâr pop-up shop moves to Pembrey Country Park
LOCAL businesses taking advantage of a pop-up shop in Carmarthen’s St Catherine’s Walk have been selling out of stock because of demand.
Carmarthenshire County Council’s 100% Sir Gâr pop-up shop has helped boost the business of several local producers and arts and crafts retailers during its time in the former Topshop unit.
The pop-up has now moved on to Pembrey Country Park where sellers will be offering their goods from Wednesday August 18 to Saturday August 21.
100% Sir Gâr was developed during the Covid-19 pandemic as a virtual shop window on the council’s Discover Carmarthenshire website, as a way of supporting local businesses to recover from a long period of lockdown and restrictions on retail.
Businesses including Cariad Candles, Gemwaith Defana, Melys neis, Prick in a Box and Coles Brewery have been amongst those taking advantage of the space to display and share their goods.
Penny Powell, owner of Cariad Candles, was one of the sellers to sell out some of her products in the first week.
“It was really successful, I really enjoyed it,” she said. “The pop-up shop was a great opportunity for small businesses in Carmarthenshire to showcase their products. The event was well organised and as a small business I was given the support I needed to succeed in this event. I had great feedback from my customers to thought it was a great use of the empty shop and enjoyed the experience of browsing, chatting and meeting the businesses owners in the local area.”
Eleri Soanes, who owns Melys Neis and Prick in a Box, added: “It was great to see an empty high street store full of local businesses.”
100% Sir Gâr is part of the council’s overall Economic Recovery Plan which aims to safeguard and create jobs, support businesses and bolster the local economy over the next two years, focusing efforts on 11 key themes with emphasis on maximising opportunities for local businesses and growing the economy.
It has been supported by local business and retail groups, and the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2014-2020, which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Leader of the council and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “I’m so pleased that the first 100% Sir Gâr pop-up shop has been such a resounding success. This is just one of the many ways we are supporting local businesses at a time when they need it most. I’d like to thank everyone who has called in and given them much needed support. We hope this platform acts as a springboard for their businesses and wish them every luck for the future.”
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