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Lessons Learned from Award-Winning Manufacturers

To a certain extent virtue is its own reward. But when businesses do the right thing, recognition is not just a matter of reward but of inspiring others to do likewise and improve their own organizations and so improve the supply chain to which they contribute. That's the purpose of industry awards.

Local & global awards

The Manufacturing Excellence Award (MX) has been an annual event in Britain for several decades. Last year, this award was combined with the Manufacturer of the Year Awards, run by the Manufacturer to form the Manufacturer MX Awards (TMMX).

For Europe beyond the UK, though, the Manufacturing Excellence Award (MX) was established in Germany in 2005 under the scientific direction of the Logistics Department of the Technical University of Berlin. The goal was “to strengthen the exchange between industry and science, to disseminate best practice solutions in the industry, the promotion of international cooperation and the creation of a network of experts from science and practice.”

Identifying strengths & setting standards

As a benchmarking competition, the MX Award identifies strengths and sets standards for a global industry. The competition bring to light questions like, “what exactly distinguishes successful companies from the less successful”  and in what way can the successes serve as an example for other organizations to understand how they can apply similar strategies to their own operations?  

Better together

As explained in the MX history page the idea of having two differently centered awards is not adversarial but complementary: “The continual expansion of an integrated database of English and German organization, enables the joint definition of best practices and the international comparison of companies and also provides a future comprehensive exchange of information.” 

A double winner

On November 24, ABB’s generator circuit-breaker (GCB) manufacturing facility in Switzerland won the 2015 MX (Manufacturing Excellence) Award. ABB is the world's largest supplier of GCBs.  More than 8,000 of its GCBs play an essential role in power plants across the globe.  Their function is to eliminate short-circuit faults that can cause the power plant components not to function properly.  ABB's factory won the overall category for best practices, innovative processes, and customer focus. On top of that, it garnered the award for its use of Information Technology.  

Innovation & agility for the win

Daniel Zeidler, manager of the award winning GCB unit was quoted in the company's press release, saying, “The key to our success is driven primarily by a culture of innovation and operational excellence with strong customer focus. This is in line with ABB's Next Level Strategy with an emphasis on transforming business processes to become more agile and focused on customer needs.” 

The press release mentions that among the judges of the competition appreciated the fact that the factory is committed to “a lean management approach that results in quick implementation whenever changes are required.” See the video here:

Of course, innovation and agility depend on effective use of technology. The factory was commended for “the comprehensive use of information technology (IT) tools, which supports ABB's Internet of Things, Services and People (IoTSP) approach.” Technology is also key to keeping the kind of efficiency that can only result from clear communication to direct action, something ABB achieves through “consistent use of visualization for the entire value chain.”   

Certainly, the achievement is worth applauding, but, more importantly, it's worth emulating.

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