Process Industry Best Factory sponsored by Anglian Water; Best Factory in Scotland sponsored by Barclays Mercantile.
Some factories seek self-improvement by noisily embracing empowerment, or Total Quality or re-engineering. Dexter Nonwovens, of Chirnside, Berwickshire, is not like that. On the contrary, it is solidly traditional, unflamboyant, down-to-earth - which is only to be expected. Chirnside is in the rural southeast of Scotland and a little off the main track, although only 10 miles from Berwick-upon-Tweed. The parent, Dexter Corporation, has its traditions too, incidentally, being the oldest company quoted on the New York Stock Exchange.
Dexter Nonwovens makes paper - of a kind. It's the paper used in teabags, coffee filters, meat casings (for salami sausages, etc) and cigarette filters. The production process is like conventional paper-making, but employs a mixture of exceptionally long natural and man-made fibres to produce a material with a very low mass in relation to its area, plus considerable strength and a controlled degree of porosity. Teabag tissue, for example, must keep the tea inside but permit rapid infusion. A casing tube must expand by a fixed amount during the stuffing process, so that 10 slices are always 113 grams. 'It's really precision engineering,' says Chirnside's general manager, Bill Paton.