Businesses helped by Scottish Enterprise (SE) are projecting efficiency savings and productivity improvements over the next three years of £107 million. Three quarters of this (£81 million) comes from manufacturers working with the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS).

The energy and creative industries are two sectors accessing SMAS support and making efficiency and productivity improvements as a result.

This is the most value that SMAS has generated for Scottish manufacturers since it was created 10 years ago. The remainder of the efficiency and productivity gains come from various services Scottish Enterprise provides to non-manufacturing companies to enhance their competitiveness.

The results, taken from the enterprise agency’s 2014-15 annual results, have been achieved from activity that SMAS undertakes with Scottish manufacturers. Between April 2014 and March 2015, SMAS provided 322 manufacturing reviews to Scottish manufacturers to help them understand where improvements could be made to their business.

These reviews have so far led to 203 business improvement projects being completed which cumulatively have efficiency savings and productivity gains valued at £81 million over the next three years.

Scotland’ deputy first minister John Swinney said: “Manufacturing underpins the success of our whole economy so I welcome these fantastic results, which are down to the hard work of the dedicated SMAS team and the ambition of our manufacturers to grow their businesses. SMAS is helping businesses improve production processes, so they reduce costs, boost competitiveness and improve productivity – all this ultimately leads to sustainable growth.”

Business improvement projects are tailored for each company and involve working alongside staff and management to provide intensive assistance and expertise. In the last year, business improvements projects have evolved to meet the changing needs of Scotland’s manufacturers.

Projects have moved away from short-term solutions designed to deliver immediate gains and instead now focus on more complex, strategic projects that embed a culture of business excellence. This approach leads to higher productivity levels and increased global competitive advantage for businesses.

More Scottish businesses are recognising the significant benefit of sustainable continuous improvement and are looking to combine improvement tools and techniques with cultural and behavioural change. Maximising the skills and talent of people enables companies to exploit new opportunities and continually innovate.

Adrian Gillespie, managing director of Growth Companies, Innovation and Infrastructure at Scottish Enterprise commented: “By helping companies increase efficiencies and productivity, we can free up their time, resource and investment to add capacity, develop new products and find new markets at home and internationally.

“With £81 million of improvements coming from manufacturers, it highlights that manufacturing remains critical to building and maintaining Scotland’s global competitiveness.

“Manufacturers produce 60% of Scotland’s exports and business R&D spend, and we’re seeing steady growth in Scotland’s manufacturing exports, with a 2.7% rise over the last year. However, we can’t be complacent. We want to work with more companies that are ready to realise the rich seam of growth opportunities globally.”