Attempts to boost productivity among UK manufacturers put great store on making comparisons with so-called world-class companies. Such benchmarking is an integral part of the Fit for the Future campaign run by the Confederation of British Industry and the Department of Trade and Industry. The idea is to calculate how well you measure up to certain standard indicators, then make a comparison with other participating companies, referring to a confidential database league table of company performance.
These kinds of techniques are excellent ways to show the improvements a company can aim to achieve. But rather like schools league tables, while they create what looks like a highly scientific ranking they have a tendency to ignore completely the small-scale successes and achievements that have already happened. Such achievements bring real improvements, but in comparison with world-class companies could still leave a firm lagging in the rankings. This realisation can leave effective, highly motivated management and staff feeling a little despondent.
It is for this reason that our Manufacturing Industry Achievement Awards – which culminated in this Tuesday’s gala awards presentation – focus on achievement as much as on measurable performance indicators. Many of the award entries underlined the fact that there are some inspiring stories to be told within manufacturing. In most cases, these have led to quantifiable business improvements. The unfortunate thing is that these tend to go completely unnoticed by the outside world.
Our MIAA awards, which were launched six years ago, aim to redress this problem. We at The Engineer offer our hearty congratulations to all the winners and runners-up, and our thanks to all the companies who took part. If you did not enter your company this year, then consider it for next year. And if you think what you have done with your company, technology, or products would inspire and impress your rivals, then you should definitely be aiming for next year’s shortlist.