Leading the way

Posted on 3 Jun 2010 by The Manufacturer

The cream of Britain’s manufacturing crop have cause to celebrate after the announcement of the finalists of the prestigious Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ (IMechE) Manufacturing Excellence Awards (MX) 2010. Tim Brown introduces some of those lucky enough to be in the running for MX recognition.

The MX Awards is one of Europe’s most established manufacturing benchmarking schemes. Judging the 18 finalists this year will be business experts from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and Autodesk, amongst others.

The firms will battle it out in a two-day final judging process at IMechE’s London headquarters before the final winners are announced at the Dorchester Hotel on 23 June.

Awards up for grabs this year include Best SME, Best Overall Business, Product Innovation, Process Innovation, Best Financial Management, Best Business Education Partnership and Sustainable Manufacturing. Graeme Allinson, head of Manufacturing and Transport Logistics at Barclays, which is supporting the Best Financial Management Award, said: “The MX Awards are one of the mainstays of the British manufacturing calendar, a chance to not just celebrate the success of innovative manufacturers, but to understand what the future holds for this vitally important sector”.

MX 2010 Finalists:
• AESSEAL Plc, Rotherham
• Aircelle Ltd, Burnley
• BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, Barrow in Furness, Cumbria
• Brother Industries UK Ltd, Wrexham
• Carl Zeiss SMT Ltd, Cambridge
• ContiTech Beattie Limited, Ashington, Northumberland
• Cummins Inc Darlington Engine Plant, Co Durham
• Draeger Safety UK Limited, Blyth, Northumberland
• Lambert, Tadcaster, Yorks
• Leyland Trucks, Preston
• MBDA UK, Stevenage
• Michelin Tyres PLC, Ballymena
• P&G Gillette, Reading
• Pipex Limited, Plymouth
• Proto Labs, Telford
• Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery Ltd, Lincoln
• Siemens Magnet Technology, Witney
• ZF Lemforder UK Ltd Solihull, West Midlands.

Aircelle from Yorkshire, produces nacelles (a special type of casing often used to protect engines, wind turbines or contain fuel on aircraft), thrust reversers and aero structures. It counts giants such as Rolls- Royce, Gulfstream and Airbus as some its clients.

Its products are crucial to the safety of flights and contribute to the efficiency of some of the world’s leading airliners. Helen Gopsill, HR director at Aircelle said: “We are striving to become an ‘employer of choice’ within the marketplace and these awards provide an excellent opportunity to benchmark against other high profile, high calibre organisations.

In addition, we believe that this process will allow us to continue to identify opportunities for us to further improve and develop.”

Carl Zeiss
Carl Zeiss is a Cambridge-based firm which dates back to 1865 and was founded by the nephew of Charles Darwin. It is the leading producer of Scanning Electron Microscopes, devices so acute they can capture grains of pollen for hay fever research as an example. The firm is also involved in areas such as life sciences and material analysis and nearly 100% of its products are exported.

Bob Taylor, managing director of Carl Zeiss SMT said: “We are delighted to be short-listed in our first year of entering this competition. Carl Zeiss is an internationally renowned company with a long history and brand name associated with world leading innovation and quality, part of our vision for the future is to be a world class organisation. We felt the MX assessment of ourselves and processes, against top in class national and international companies would be very valuable for us, to highlight where and how we could continue to improve further.”

Dräger is an international leader in the fields of medical and safety technology. Founded in Lübeck in 1889, Dräger has grown into a worldwide, The listed enterprise in its fifth generation as a familyrun business. The company also has a full service training academy at Blyth. “The process of entering the MX awards has been very rewarding to date,” said managing director, Dave Richardson. “We pride ourselves as being at the forefront of continually improving all aspects of our business processes to remain competitive…Being shortlisted in four categories in our first submission further positively reinforces this realisation.”

Lambert has been providing automated production systems, special purpose machinery and automation systems across a myriad of applications on a global scale for over 30 years. The company’s dedication to quality and innovation reaches much further than simply supplying automated machinery.

It has a focus on building strong customer relationships and developing individual tailored solutions to ensure successful implementation.

Sales director, Mathew Cox said: “Given this is our first time entering the awards we are thrilled to be recognised for our efforts. It validates all the hard work everyone is putting in and shows us we are doing the right things.”

Leyland Trucks
Leyland Trucks, one of Britain’s leading manufacturing companies, were awarded best overall business at last year’s MX competition.

The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of PACCAR, a global technology leader in the design, manufacture and support of high-quality light, medium and heavy-duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF nameplates. Since Leyland Trucks was acquired by PACCAR in 1998, it has become the group’s established centre for light and medium truck design, development and manufacture. “We view MX as an opportunity to audit and benchmark our business,” said managing director, Andrea Paver. “This is particularly critical during challenging economic times and the quality of the assessment process and feedback we receive is very helpful.”

P&G Gillette
P&G Gillette is a part of the shaving and razor manufacturing giant. The Reading business unit is an R&D laboratory responsible for the front end innovation for new razor products that are used across the world. For the past 50 years, the Reading Innovation Centre has created, prototyped and tested every new Gillette razor product that the company has launched. Graham Simms, research fellow said: “We are delighted to have made the finals. It is a little-known fact that Gillette’s R&D laboratory is Reading plays a critical role in keeping Gillette at the cutting edge of shaving science. We welcome opportunities such as this competition to demonstrate our innovative abilities.”

Proto Labs
Proto Labs is the world’s fastest source for customer CNC-machined and injection-moulded parts. The company’s First Cut and Protomold services ensure that real materials and real functionality are available to customers in as little as one business day. Proto Labs has revolutionised the product development cycle since its entrance into the European market place a little under five years ago. Its rapid manufacturing services appeals to engineers across industry sectors including medical, automotive and aerospace as well as universities. “Being shortlisted for an MX Award is great recognition for our dedicated and hard working team,” said Damian Hennessey, commercial manager. “For the iMeche to recognise our business in this way makes us all very proud; particularly at a time when many have dismissed the UK as a viable location for a thriving manufacturer.”

Siemens Magnet Technology
Siemens Magnet Technology is a manufacturer of superconducting magnets for use within Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners. More than 30% of all the MRI scanners in hospitals and clinics worldwide contain a magnet designed and manufactured by the Siemens site in Oxfordshire. “I am absolutely delighted to have reached the finals of the ImechE MX awards,” said managing director, Craig Marshall. “As an engineer, I understand the passion with which we pursue engineering excellence in this business and I am hopeful we can make a positive impression on the judges.”