MANAGEMENT TODAY AWARDS FOR MANUFACTURING 2002: Making it better

MANAGEMENT TODAY AWARDS FOR MANUFACTURING 2002: Making it better - Thriving in some of the toughest industries around, the finalists in the 2002 MT Awards for Manufacturing are a symbol of hope in a troubled sector. Their strategy? Manufacturing excellenc

Thriving in some of the toughest industries around, the finalists in the 2002 MT Awards for Manufacturing are a symbol of hope in a troubled sector. Their strategy? Manufacturing excellence ...

To read the headlines - lagging productivity, disappearing jobs, ballooning trade deficit - you'd think that British manufacturing was out for the count. But there's a more cheerful way of looking at the sector's undoubted problems. If the performance of the finalists in the 2002 MT Awards for Manufacturing, run as always with Cranfield School of Management and strongly supported by the DTI, were replicated throughout the country, there would be no manufacturing productivity gap; the UK trade deficit would be pretty much wiped out; and GDP would be boosted by an estimated pounds 60 billion - by coincidence just the amount that the chancellor earlier this year committed to the improvement of British public services.

This is not far-fetched - at least conceptually. Our shortlisted plants may be a self-selected group, but none of them is a special case with resources that other companies don't have or can't engineer access to. None attributes its achievements to a fancy strategy, trendy industry segment, greenfield site, non-unionised workforce or unique automation. Apart from Natures Way Foods at Runcton, a new plant set up at customer behest, every one of this year's finalists was once no better than average. At least one seemed to be bound for the knacker's yard.

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