Premier Exhaust Systems.
Premier Exhaust Systems stands head and shoulders above every other entrant for this year's awards. The Coventry factory, which is part of Unipart Group, the management-owned automotive components supplier, produces exhaust systems for a variety of vehicles. In all, some 130 different systems are produced, from 500-odd components which are either bought-out or fabricated in-house.
Manufacturing operations are in no sense complex: kit the components (there are approximately 20 components to the average exhaust system), weld, test, paint and ship. Deliveries are despatched to customers in the motor industry 'just in time' every two-and-a-half hours. Indeed, simplicity is the essence of the operation. Quality systems, for example, are nothing if not robust, relying more on go/no-go gauges and fitting rigs than on statistical quality control charts. Managing director Frank Burns is a powerful advocate of 'simple layouts, simple structures'. Beyond that, he advises, 'Become a house-keeping fiend and, above all, introduce teams, teams and more teams'.