Thorn’s Spennymoor factory grabs the gong

Thorn’s Spennymoor factory near Durham has been named Factory of the Year for 2009 at the Best Factory Awards run by Cranfield School of Management.

The modern purpose-built lighting factory also scooped the Best Electronics & Electrical Plant and Best People Management awards and was highly commended for the Innovation award.

Factory visits to 54 short-listed production plants were made over the summer months and Dr Marek Szwejczewski, director of the awards, said that Thorn stood out for its attention to quality, cost and delivery. “Its factory is extremely customer-focused and its performance has been so good that it is bringing products back to the UK from overseas plants. The factory has been designed for fast material flow, which has brought immense saving in terms of time and money. The company also made good use of Lean Six Sigma tools which involved production workers in the development of improvements which significantly increased the factory's productivity and delivery performance.

"The company has invested heavily in its staff's technical skills and equipment to keep ahead of competition. Employee multi-skilling is the norm at the factory, with many employees being able to make any product in the range. Half its operators are on flexible contracts, which allow it to match labour to the peaks in customer demand.”

Terry Carmichael, the factory’s operation director, said: "We are delighted to have won the Best Factory Award as it acknowledges the team’s sustained efforts, not only in moving to the new site in 45 days without dropping an order, but in not deviating from their goal of continuously improving. It also emphasises the importance of people and providing them with the right internal systems and infrastructure. This gives us competitive edge to achieve the standards of performance and customer satisfaction that benefits everyone concerned with Thorn.”