Xtrac’s application of its motor racing know-how to the development of hybrid and electric vehicles, and the transfer of its driveline technology to the defence and marine industries, has helped the UK motorsport valley company into second place in its first ever participation in The UK Manufacturer of the Year Awards.
The transmission technology specialist took top honours in the Advanced Manufacturing category and, as well as being overall runner-up, was also shortlisted as a finalist for the Innovation and Design, Leadership and Strategy, and Best Small and Medium Enterprise awards. The competition winners were announced at a prestigious black tie event held on 18 November 2010, following the annual Manufacturer Directors Conference.
“Xtrac is a world class manufacturer of a high performance product,” said Ed Lambourne technical director at Delcam, a partner in the European Factories of the Future project, who together with Robin Wilson, lead technologist at the UK’s Technology Strategy Board, judged the Advanced Manufacturing category. “The company has a continuous programme of collaborating with universities in order to develop their capability and to attract and develop the skills that they need to maintain leadership in their field. We were particularly impressed with their manufacturing thinking at the product development stage.”
“I know I speak for all 247 employees when I say that we’re absolutely delighted to receive these top awards,” said Xtrac development director Cliff Hawkins, who attended the ceremony. “The judging process now seems remarkably prescient, being completed just a few weeks before we achieved our largest ever order book level.”
Martin Halley, chief engineer at Xtrac responsible for the advanced engineering group, added: “Based on our success with the awards this year and our forecast sales revenues for next year – and in the true spirit of motorsport competition where winning is everything – we’ll be back to challenge for the top prize in 2011.”
Describing the frontrunners as the ‘best of the best’ Joe Greenwell chairman of Ford of Britain, who was one of three senior judges determining the first, second and third placed finalists from among the 12 individual category winners, commented: “These companies all stand out as exemplars of modern British manufacturing and point the way forward for UK manufacturing as a whole.”
Fellow senior judge Nick Hussey, chairman of publishing group SayOne Media, which organises the awards, commented: “We can take a rare moment to rest on the laurels of success and celebrate the talent, ingenuity and aspirations of manufacturing in the UK. While last year’s celebrations were somewhat defiant, made in the teeth of one of the hardest years in the history of British industry, this year we bang the drum to a new and more optimistic beat.”
The third senior judge was Allan Cook, chairman of Atkins and a chartered engineer with more than 30 years’ international experience in the automotive, aerospace and defence industries. Atkins is the official engineering design services provider for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The 12 individual award categories were judged by a similar pre-eminent panel of 16 more judges comprising senior company executives and leading academics.
The keynote address at the awards ceremony, which received a standing ovation, was delivered by the UK’s ‘voice of business’ Lord Digby Jones, business guru, and former director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), who spoke passionately about the importance of manufacturing to the UK economy, delivering his bold and forthright views in his customary highly engaging manner.
Joe Greenwell, who presented the runners-up award to Cliff Hawkins, together with Lord Jones, have been invited to visit Xtrac’s hi-tech factory, which is based at Thatcham in Berkshire, where they will meet with company employees. Invites have been similarly extended to Nick Hussey, Allan Cook, Ed Lambourne, Robin Wilson and other judges and sponsors involved in the awards.
The Manufacturer of the Year Awards programme is designed not only to recognise and reward excellence achieved within the industry, but also to highlight the diversity and strength of UK manufacturing.