Specialisation is the key to success say growing UK manufacturers

Two growing companies report that there is still good business to be had in UK manufacturing - as long as you're in one of the right areas.

The two companies are almost at opposite ends of the spectrum: one is Group Lotus, which builds sports cars, and the other is Ener-G, which develops energy-efficient combined heat and power (CHP) generators.

Lotus said that its business has been bouyed by the launch of the Evora, its first all-new car in 14 years, and by increased contract engineering.

It said it took the Evora - a 2+2 mid-engined sports car designed to meet the legislative requirements of, and be sold in 41 countries worldwide, including the USA - from a blank sheet of paper to start of production in just 27 months.

The company added that as a result of demand for the Evora, and for its Elise and Exige small-platform cars, it is recruiting staff in both its vehicle production and high technology engineering consultancy businesses. It plans to increase production in the 2009/10 financial year by 50 per cent over the previous year, and will increase its number of direct production staff by 30 per cent during the same period.

Meanwhile, sustainable power business Ener-G has opened an additional factory in Salford, Greater Manchester, to keep up with world-wide demand for its renewable and energy-efficient technologies. It plans to increase production of its combined heat and power (CHP) generator units by 50 per cent.

Powered by natural gas or renewable biogases such as landfill gas, CHP systems create electricity and heat simultaneously. They can reduce carbon emissions by around 20 per cent while cutting electricity costs by approximately one third, claimed Ener-G, and they are in use at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, as well as in hospitals, hotels, leisure centres, supermarkets and factories.

Last year, Ener-G doubled its original manufacturing space by opening a second factory in Salford, and it has now trebled its original manufacturing space to 34,000 sq ft (3000 sq m), by converting an adjacent building.

The company said it will train its factory team in lean manufacturing techniques to boost efficiency and ensure faster turnaround of customer orders. As a result, it expects initial growth to be absorbed by existing staff, but said it hopes to create new jobs as production increases further.

Ener-G will also recruit more service engineers to expand its 90-strong installation and maintenance team, and is building a dedicated training centre within its new premises.

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