When conveyor belt manufacturer Wire Belt Company Ltd saw the companies they were competing against at the EEF Future Manufacturing Awards, they were a bit daunted. As the top awards programme for British manufacturers, all the top industry names and multi-national organisations were up for the same Environmental Efficiency Award. However, as Wire Belt learned when they took home the national prize in 2016, it isn’t the company size that matters, but their innovation and commitment to excellence.
Since setting up an in-house environmental team to propose sustainable, commercially responsible initiatives, Wire Belt had implemented a variety of green projects. From covering their Kent facility in PV to undertaking an LED lighting retrofit to operating with zero waste to landfill, Wire Belt punched above its 83-employee weight. The key was having both the commitment to sustainable improvement from the top, but also the buy-in and ideas of every member of staff.
“Our mission is to be a lean, green, values-driven team. That is part of the lifeblood of the company, and it goes right on down to cleaners and apprentices. Everyone has a role and a say in how we run things,” says Gary Allen, Commercial Director at Wire Belt.
“I’d encourage everyone to enter the awards no matter the size of their company. You can be small and make a big difference, and for us, that’s quite important.” – Gary Allen, Commercial Director, Wire Belt Company Ltd
In looking at the criteria of the Environmental Efficiency Award, Wire Belt realised it was a perfect fit with their programme and decided to enter the Future Manufacturing Awards.
“The application was very easy to fill in. Going to London for our panel interview was daunting at first as the judges are very thorough in their questions, but we were confident in what we were presenting so it wasn’t a problem. We actually ended up enjoying the experience, because it made us really look at our processes and business in depth and identified areas where we can go further and do more,” explains Gary.
"The judges were impressed that this small company had made the decision to integrate environment into their mission statement. The overall strategy was a broad environmental remit based on a collaborative team effort. The next target is to become energy neutral in 2016.”
Attending both the regional and then the national awards events was intimidating at first.
“We’re a relatively small company, so we thought we might not have a chance against some of the big names that participate in the awards. But once we went through the process, we realised we deserved to be there,” Gary says. “We felt we could be a beacon for companies our size to go out and enter the awards themselves, because we showed you can be small and still win.”
And the win was very much appreciated by employees.
Gary says, “Winning the national award meant absolutely everything, not just for the business but for everyone in the company. We took the award around to every member of staff to thank them because it was really their achievement.”
The Future Manufacturing Awards aren’t just about celebrating success. They’re about rewarding change, building partnerships, progressing ideas, developing good practice and investing in people. The Awards are free-to-enter and open to all manufacturing organisations and their supply chains no matter what their size. Judged regionally and nationally by independent industry experts and peers, they are the most established and respected of their kind - giving real recognition to those that demonstrate a commitment to the future of UK manufacturing.