Shortlist of the UK's best factories announced

Cranfield School of Management has announced which British factories have been shortlisted for the 2013 Best Factory Awards (BFA).

The awards programme, now in its 22nd year, celebrates manufacturing excellence in the UK and is run by Cranfield School of Management in partnership with the magazine Works Management.

Among the contenders for the coveted overall prize of BFA Factory of the Year are companies that make goods as varied as hand crafted mattresses; teabags; material for airbags and broadcast and professional cameras.

Dr Marek Szwejczewski, Director of the Best Factory Awards commented: "This year's awards generated a high number of entries all of a very high calibre.  This is very encouraging for UK manufacturing showing the sector is very much alive; figures released last week from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show manufacturing output surged in June at the strongest pace since 2010."

Cranfield academics compared this year's engineering factories with those that entered the awards last year and the results revealed a sharp increase in productivity and a decline in customer lead times, confirming reports that UK manufacturing has gathered speed this year.

Dr Szwejczewski went on to say: "Our awards aim to recognise the achievements of those factories that are setting the standard for British manufacturing and highlight systems and processes that others can learn from."

Max Gosney, editor of Works Management commented: "From electronic printed circuit boards to car valeting kits and mattresses - the Best Factory Awards finalists show the glorious depth of products still being made in Great Britain. The shortlist is like lifting the lid on a long lost treasure chest. Homegrown factories, widely believed to be buried forever, come screaming out into the light like resplendent gemstones."

Gosney added: "The 14 shortlisted sites tear apart the fallacy that the UK can only compete in high-tech 'advanced' manufacturing fields. Here are a group of factories who through a painstaking commitment to quality, innovative process design and outstanding people management have become world class."

The 14 shortlisted plants are:

Cummins Power Generation Ltd, Manston, Ramsgate – Constructs diesel and gas powered generators for primary and secondary standby power.

Herman Miller Ltd, Chippenham - Manufactures high quality seating for offices.

VI-Spring Ltd, Ernesettle, Plymouth – Produces quality hand crafted mattresses and divans for the global market place.

Tharsus Vision Ltd, Blyth – The plant provides Original Equipment Design and Manufacture service (OEDM).

EMS Radio Fire & Security Systems Ltd, Herne Bay, Kent – Designs and manufactures wirefree fire detection equipment.

Siemens Plc, Industry Sector, Drives Technology, Congleton – Manufactures variable speed drives.

FujiFilm Speciality Ink Systems Limited, Broadstairs,  Kent – Produces digital flexo and screen printing inks.

Milliken European Airbag Products, Blyth – Manufacturers airbag fabric and also airbag components for automotive airbags.

SONY UK Tec, Pencoed – The factory produces broadcast and professional camera solutions and undertakes collaborative manufacturing solutions for customers.

Eaton Production International GmbH, Industrial Control Division, Worksop – Manufactures switch disconnectors and camm switches.

Autoglym, Letchworth, Hertfordshire – Produces products used in the cleaning and polishing of automotive vehicles.

Bosch Thermotechnology Ltd, Worcester – Manufactures high efficiency heating and hot water appliances.

D S Smith Packaging, Livingston – Manufactures and prints corrugated fibreboard packaging.

Tata Global Beverages Ltd, Eagleascliffe, Stockton-on-Tees - Manufactures Tetley tea bags.

In addition to the prestigious Factory of the Year Award, there are 13 other awards: Best Process Plant Award; Best Engineering Plant Award; Best Electronics and Electrical Plant Award; Best Household and General Products Plant Award; Best SME; People & Skills Development Award; Export Award; Supply Chain Award; Most Improved Plant Award; Health & Safety Award; Innovation Award; Energy and Environment Award and the Judges' Special Award.

All entrants receive a free benchmarking report comparing aspects of their plant's performance with the average for the sector.

The winners will be announced at the BFA Awards Ceremony taking place on 27 September at 8 Northumberland Avenue, London.

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