Plysu, based at Milton Keynes, specialises in mass production of supermarket-style plastic milk and juice containers. A commendation for this factory re-emphasises the theme that tough customers breed good suppliers: Plysu has to deliver 'just in time' to the dairy majors 365 days a year - containers are too bulky to hold more than a few hours' worth of stock. Although the process is only moderately complex, a significant investment in technology is a condition of success, since bottles are continually getting both bigger and thinner.
Cost is another hugely important factor. 'Getting commitment from one's customer base - to drive out costs in total - is vital,' says managing director Nick Templeton-Ward. Thus the factory has halved freight costs by striking deals with customers, who have constructed new delivery bays to accommodate 45-ft 'supercube' trailers capable of carrying many more bottles - and unloading them more quickly. The company operates an extremely simple telephone-based order-entry system linked to a simple stock control system.
This is an efficient, lean factory with simple systems and tight controls. Vehicle loading technology and statistical process control are especially commended.
Regional Award: South East - Sponsor: Peritas.
Peritas is a major training organisation specialising in organisational development, information technology training and the use of IT in the learning process. Every year 40,000 people use Peritas services. In addition to being the UK's largest IT training organisation, its Peritas Change Management Consortium supports clients in all aspects of change. It is a multi-media expert providing a managed service for training and conference facilities. Peritas also runs the UK National Management Game in association with Management Today.