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.