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UK manufacturers take strength from others success

In the same week that figures from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) showed levels of production and employment had fallen to record rates, the UK manufacturing sector remained upbeat, with a record turnout at the 2009 Best Factory Awards (BFA) Conference, run by Cranfield School of Management in partnership with the magazine Works Management.

Two hundred manufacturing managers attended the two-day conference in the Midlands which brought together the winners of the 2008 Best Factory Awards (BFA) who shared how they succeeded in spite of the tough economic conditions.

Cranfield School of Management’s Dr Marek Szwejczewski, who is Director of the Awards, said: “Some commentators would have you believe that the UK manufacturing industry is all doom and gloom. It has only recently been reported that British manufacturing has actually fared less badly than comparable countries. During the conference we found that some sectors of British manufacturing, such as electronics, engineering, heavy engineering and fast moving consumer goods, were not experiencing any significant decline and some were actually growing. This all reinforces the strength of Britain’s manufacturing companies.

“I am pleased that our Best Factory Award winners are happy to share with peers how they have improved their manufacturing operations, changed the mindset of staff and created a culture of continuous improvements.”

Strategy, lean manufacturing, continuous improvement, being lean and green and the use of world class tools and techniques were all discussed at length over the two days. Attendees left with practical ideas that could be implemented on return to their own factories.

Works Management editorial director Ken Hurst said: “I was cheered by both the level of support for the BFA Conference and the mood that prevailed throughout the two days. To have improved on last year's attendance numbers in the current economic climate demonstrates how acutely aware UK manufacturing managers are of the need to strive for world class performance. What better way to do that than by learning from those who are performing best in the sector. Above all though, it was truly heartening to hear manufacturer after manufacturer refusing to abandon training and the continued development of their young people even though the factory, for now, might be on short time working."

The deadline to apply for the 2009 Best Factory Awards is 31 March 2009. For more information and an entry form, please contact Maggie Bridge, Best Factory Awards (BFA) Co-ordinator on 01234 754498 or email: