The Manufacturer MX Awards: a unique opportunity to be tested

Posted on 28 Jun 2017 by The Manufacturer

Xaar won the Innovation and Design category at last year’s The Manufacturer MX Awards. Peter Osborne finds out why they entered and what they got out of it.

Xaar won the Innovation and Design category at last year's The Manufacturer MX Awards - image courtesy of The Manufacturer
Xaar won the Innovation and Design category at last year’s The Manufacturer MX Awards – image courtesy of The Manufacturer

Cambridge-based Xaar is a world leader in the development of inkjet technology, and a leading independent manufacturer of industrial inkjet printheads.

I sat down with Ian Page, head of continuous improvement, to talk about their achievement. We started by discussing what the innovation and design award at the The Manufactuer MX Awards meant to Xaar.

“We follow a strategy of continuous innovation and development of the technology behind our designs, which has led to over 250 patents (granted or pending), so the The Manufactuer MX Award for Innovation and Design really means a lot to us.

“But it’s not just about winning – we had fantastic feedback from the judging process, which meant that we have a pretty good idea what they liked and what they think is worth celebrating. They were impressed with our ‘classic’ Cambridge business model to invent technology, deploy technology via inhouse manufacturing or licencing and develop markets for the technology.

“The judges met enthusiastic staff who have a great understanding of our business and its processes and products. They liked the fact that over 95% of our products are manufactured in the UK and exported worldwide. We have great product lifecycle management processes. And last, but not least, the judges could see that we really understand the importance of innovation and design to create and deliver products that meet customer needs across a wide range of applications.”

The entry process is demanding and time-consuming. I asked Ian if this put him off applying.

Inspired to enter?

The Manufacturer MX Awards is the biggest annual celebration in the industry’s calendar, attracting more than 1,000 attendees.

However, the awards aren’t just about the ceremony itself, they are the culmination of a rigorous programme designed to provide valuable business improvement advice and feedback from an expert panel of judges.

Companies and individuals of all sectors and sizes are eligible to enter and there is a category to suit every achievement. It is free to enter – entries close on 30 June.

The awards ceremony takes place in Liverpool on 16 November, as part of a series of co-located events hosted by Hennik Research, publishers of The Manufacturer.

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“For us, the most important reason for entering the Awards is that as a world-leader in our sector we have few opportunities to benchmark ourselves against other leading companies. The Manufacturer MX Awards provided the perfect opportunity to self-assess and review our approach.

“It let us be judged by an independent panel of industry experts capable of probing below the surface to provide feedback and insights in their field of expertise.”

“Entering did involve investment of time and energy, but our experience was that the effort and work required was well balanced against the returns gained. We got a fantastic chance to self-assess from a comprehensive set of criteria that can be used to learn.

“We had access to a panel of independent industry experts who provided feedback as critical friends. There was an opportunity for staff to be involved to develop their understanding, skills and experience that will continue to benefit the business.

“Winning the award has been a great morale booster. It’s given us an opportunity for celebration to encourage the continued hard work and collaboration of the many teams and individuals across the company.”

This article first appeared in the June issue of The Manufacturer magazine. To subscribe, please click here