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How our Manufacturing Advisors helped Digimock adapt to challenges

Digimock is a leading food-safe packaging company based in Warburton, Cheshire, just a short distance from Manchester. The company’s founder, Michael Davison (Mike), is a veteran in the flexible packaging industry and has gained extensive experience working across manufacturing sites in the UK and Europe.

Mike embarked on a personal journey to run his own business in 2000. Utilised his knowledge and understanding of the technological evolution of flexible packaging, he set up Digimock, providing services ranging from packaging design, mockup and prototype packaging to full-production reel-fed films and pre-made pack formats. Since starting up Digimock, Mike has had support from the GC Business Growth Hub’s Manufacturing Team.

Everything was going well for Digimock until the pandemic hit. During the lockdown period, the company faced a major setback as sales dropped significantly for two years for their mockup packaging service. With all the trade shows cancelled, the company’s clients had no means to showcase their packaged goods to buyers, leading to a sharp decline in demand for Digimock’s packaging service. It was a tough time and even after two years, the company is still feeling the impact of the pandemic. Luckily, Martin Hyman, one of the Business Advisors in the Manufacturing Team of GC Business Growth Hub was here to support the transformation of Digimock.

Venturing into the uncharted

During the lockdown, many startups began packing and shipping their food products across the country, increasing the demand for co-packing services. However, most of the existing players in the industry had already been taken up by large food companies. With growing customer demand, Mike started to consider venturing into the co-packing business. It was an entirely new responsibility involving handling client food products with care and attention to detail.

By setting up an approved clean room packing facility and investing in a range of filling and sealing equipment, Digimock launched a co-packing service known as “Packfill”, offering their customers co-packing service on short lead times with no minimum order quantities. The company can pack dry and ambient products into various pre-made packaging formats. Typically, powders such as supplements, spice blends and ingredients mixes, confectionery items, tea and coffee, and even tablets. To manage the new service, Bradley Cottrell, an employee of Digimock, also attended the Production Leader Programme offered by the GC Business Growth Hub for the necessary skill set of his new role.

With the help of the Manufacturing Team of GC Business Growth Hub, Digimock obtained the necessary qualifications in handling food products and attained membership of SALSA (Safe and Local Supplier Approval) and is now working towards the latest SALSA Approval Standard. The ability to offer in-house co-packing services and design and sell the packaging material itself is a unique selling point that differentiates the company from other Digital print packaging companies. Mike is looking forward to “Packfill” becoming one of the profitable arms of the company.

Addressing Core Issue

With the new direction set, Digimock started considering enhancing two significant aspects, marketing, and efficiency in December 2022. To attract more business, Martin brought in Judith Ross of the Digital Innovation Team to explore the opportunities in digital marketing. Judith helped to audit the company’s websites (Digimock and Packfill) to check for search engine optimisation (SEO), user experience, marketing messages, etc. Then, she formulated a digital marketing strategy for Mike to implement, with a monitoring mechanism to monitor the success of each element of the Strategy.

Martin also connected Mike with Marc Appleton, lead of the Recipe4Success programme, which provides support for startups in the food industry aka., a natural target for Digimock’s Packfill service.

On the efficiency side, Martin introduced Mike to Tabs Khojani from The North of England Robotics Innovation Centre (NERIC) to explore the potential for a Cobot/Robot for the Packfill’s production line. Tabs arranged for a robotics technology specialist to visit the company and see what could be feasible to support their operations. After reviewing the operations with NERIC, the company adopted a solution to semi-automate the date coding of product packed.

The previous process required each pack to be manually labelled with the dates, which was labour-intensive and prone to errors. Adopting the new semi-automatic process helped increase date coding capacity from 2000 packs per day to 1800 packs per hour, making the company more competitive and adding capacity for growth.

With all the upgrades, Mike is looking forward to this year’s business being the best year after the pandemic. “I think the service provided by the Manufacturing Team of GC Business Growth Hub is excellent, and the people on the team are fantastic. You don’t have much time when you’re running a business. Still, I know that if I reached out to Martin or somebody else in the Manufacturing Team, they would come back to me with suggestions on any opportunity to assist. So, it’s excellent.”

“As a Manufacturing Advisor, it’s always great to be able to help a Manufacturing Business in Greater Manchester to grow,” said Martin Hyman. “It was a real privilege to have the opportunity to work with Mike as he was receptive to ideas which help his Manufacturing Businesses grow.” 

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