A report examining Best Factory Award winners over the past 20 years has revealed how dramatically manufacturing has changed in this time, moving away from simply optimising utilisation and driving down costs, and towards value-added business models differentiated through quality, delivery, innovation and service.
The report, released by Cranfield School of Management in association with Barclays Corporate and Findlay Media, examines the performance of a diverse selection of UK manufacturers over the past two decades and provides insight on the benchmarking and best-practice manufacturers can adopt for success.
Offering an added value proposition for the customer is the essential link between the Best Factory Award winners of the last 20 years. A crafted business approach towards delivery of goods and service solutions was also clear amongst the most successful organisations with obvious synergies in those organisations manufacturing more reliable and technically superior products.
Key trends highlighted in the report include:
- Gains in competitive advantage over the international market have been made in the UK through reduction in inventory levels and creative use of technology.
- The investment in manufacturing technology amongst UK manufacturers.
- Companies have normalised the process of regularly investing in technologies in order to add value to their production chain.
- The development of comprehensive information technology infrastructures is helping organisations become more effective in terms of planning, control, communication and innovation.
- Lean manufacturing practices have become the pre-eminent approach to manufacturing operations. In 2009 more than 86% of the companies that entered the Best Factory Awards were using this approach.
- Six Sigma is becoming a staple for manufacturers, and as a combination approach along with generally leaner operations it has become a clear marker of manufacturing excellence in the UK.
- An increased recognition in industry for the important role of people in attaining excellence now exists. Managers more than ever recognise that the participation, creativity and knowledge of employees are equally as important factors to the success of their organisation as a whole, as their own management excellence.
Cranfield School of Management’s Dr Marek Szwejczewski, who is director of the Best Factory Awards, commented: “Over the past two decades we have collected a large database of factory performance information that provides a clear insight into the key trends of the best manufacturers. What has become clear year after year is that manufacturing is not standing still, it’s continually changing, adapting and growing and it is this ability to continually adapt and develop that brings success to any business.”
Graeme Allinson, head of manufacturing, transport and logistics, Barclays Corporate commented: “Manufacturers have demonstrated their battle-hardened professionalism through recent times, and the very strength of the sector is testament to the business evolution that has taken place over the last 20 years. Any remnants of the untidy, cluttered factory of the past containing mountains of inventory and with long lead-times has become a distant memory. This report should add to the growing mood of confidence amongst UK manufacturers today.”
Entries are now open for the 2010 Best Factory Awards for further information contact Maggie Bridge;