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Lighting crowned Britain’s best factory

19 September 2009 1,418 views No Comment

A global lighting business that manufactures and supplies 4.7 million light fittings a year to over 100 commercial markets around the world has been named ‘Factory of the Year’ for 2009 at the Best Factory Awards (BFA), run by Cranfield School of Management. This program has been organized in partnership with the magazine Works Management and sponsored by Barclays Commercial, DAK Consulting, and The National Skills Academy for Manufacturing, Siemens, TBM Consulting and Unite the Union.

The modern purpose-built factory in Spennymore, County Durham, also scooped the Best Electronics & Electrical Plant and Best People Management awards and was highly commended for the Innovation award. Thorn Lighting, part of the Zumtobel Group, designs and produces innovative indoor and outdoor lighting for electrical contractors, developers, architects and wholesalers across the world. Previous lighting projects have included Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and Wembley Stadium.

Dr Marek Szwejczewski, Director of the Best Factory Awards said the plant was selected as the winner of the prestigious Best Factory Award for a number of reasons:

“Thorn Lighting stood out for its attention to quality, cost and delivery. Its Spennymore factory is extremely customer focused and its performance has been so good that it is bringing products back to the UK from overseas plants. The factory has been designed for fast material flow, which has brought immense saving in terms of time and money. The company also made good use of lean six sigma tools, that streamlined the manufacturing process and reduce wastage besides increasing the factory’s productivity and delivery performance significantly.

“The company has invested heavily in enhancing its staff’s technical skills and equipment to keep ahead of competition. Employee multi-skilling is the norm at the factory, with many employees being able to make any product in the range. Half its operators are on flexible contracts, which allow it to match labour to the peaks in customer demand.

“In a year when manufacturing has borne the brunt of the global recession, Britain’s best factories have remained competitive by keeping quality a strategic priority. All the winners of this year have been affected by the recession, in one way or another, but none of them has let it as a factor that caused them to deviate from their goal to achieve operational excellence. In a challenging economy, all of the Best Factory winners have demonstrated that to continuously improve, it is critical to remain focused on the customer.”

Works Management editorial director Ken Hurst said: “You hear all kinds of strong views about the future of UK manufacturing from commentators and politicians who have rarely – if ever – been inside a factory. In my view, the future lies in factories like our Best Factory Award winners; even those running repetitive production lines over long shifts, but where people are empowered to make a difference to their own working lives and the prosperity of the companies they work for. These awards prove that the future well-being of manufacturing and the rebalancing of the UK economy is every bit as much about ordinary people making ordinary things in extraordinary ways, as it is about high value, high tech, knowledge-based businesses.”

The full list of winners and highly commended plants for 2009:

Factory of the Year: Thorn Lighting Ltd, Spennymore, Co Durham.

Best Process Plant: JohnsonDiversey UK Ltd, Alfreton – the plant manufactures liquid/powder chemical products for use in cleaning and hygiene applications in commercial, institutional and industrial facilities.

Best Engineering Plant: Gripple Ltd, Sheffield – the plant makes wire joining and tensioning devices for use in agricultural and industrial applications.

Highly commended: Rexam, Milton Keynes.

Best Electronics and Electrical Plant: Thorn Lighting Ltd, Spennymore, Co Durham.

Highly commended: Plexus Corp (UK) Limited.

Best Household and General Products Plant: R. Twinings & Co Ltd, Andover – the plant specialises in the production of speciality teas such as Earl Grey, and fine teas with fruit or flower flavours.

Best Small Company: Gripple Ltd, Sheffield.

Highly commended: Barfoots of Botley Ltd, Bognor Regis.

People Management Award: Thorn Lighting Ltd, Spennymore, Co Durham.

Skills Development Award: R. Twinings & Co Ltd, Andover.

Highly commended: Olympus KeyMed, Southend.

Supply Chain Award: Barfoots of Botley Ltd, Bognor Regis – the plant specialises in the preparation of fresh sweet corn on the cob for the UK retail market.

Highly commended: Brose Ltd, Coventry.

Most Improved Plant: Olympus KeyMed, Southend – the plant manufactures workstations, suction & flushing pumps, insufflators, cleaning and disinfection equipment for medical endoscopy, rigid endoscopes, light sources and high speed video cameras for industrial and scientific applications.

Highly commended: Federal-Mogul Friction Products Ltd, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire.

Health & Safety Award: Kidde Products Ltd, Seaham – the plant makes fire detection equipment for industrial, marine and commercial applications.

Highly commended: Gripple Ltd, Sheffield.

Innovation Award: Gripple Ltd, Sheffield.

Highly commended: Thorn Lighting Ltd, Spennymore, Co Durham.

Energy & Environment Award: JohnsonDiversey UK Ltd, Alfreton.

The Judges’ Special Award: Plexus Corp (UK) Limited – the plant produces electronic assemblies from printed circuit board assemblies & simple box build to highly complex finished assemblies – for industrial, medical, defence, and wireless customers.

Highly commended: Carl Zeiss SMT Ltd, Cambridge and Catalent Pharma Solutions, Corby, Northants.

The Best Factory Awards celebrate UK manufacturing excellence. All fourteen award winners were named at a ceremony at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, Hyde Park, London on Friday 18th September.

All plants that enter the Best Factory Awards receive a free benchmarking report that helps them evaluate their companies against their competitors on the well-defined parameters and facilitate them improve and innovate.

Ken Hurst

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