Value-Driven Manufacturing in Action at James Heal

Works Management magazine hosted a superb best-practice factory visit last week to our award-winning client James Heal, based in Halifax, West Yorkshire, UK: The visit presented an excellent opportunity for delegates to see first-hand exactly how Value-Driven Manufacturing can transform a company, despite the economic down-turn.

James Heal is a highly successful UK precision testing instruments manufacturer delivering outstanding growth, employment and export. Sales have increased by over 50% in the last two years with a significant increase in revenues from new product development and innovation, whilst product costs have been reduced by up to 25%. This success is a direct result of the lean manufacturing programme, innovative product design and a “can-do” culture. 

Visitors took part in an interactive workshop – Value-Driven Manufacturing – facilitated by Manufacturing Consultant Andrew Nicholson, where they learned how to apply the principles of Value-Driven Manufacturing “back at the ranch”.

Watch this space for the forthcoming Visit Report, Case Study and Learning Points!

Better still, sign up below to this blog and never miss any future posts!

For more information about Value-Driven Manufacturing, have a look at the blog posts here or visit the website – Value-Driven Manufacturing – where you can download a free guide to Value-Driven Business.

Motivation Made Simple – the Top Four…

Allow people to do what they do best every day. Give them the tools to do the job right. Make sure they know what’s expected. Regularly recognise and praise good work. That’s it!

If you can provide a workplace that delivers these things then you’ve addressed the Top Four Motivators (*) for most people.

Here’s my simple take on employee engagement, motivation and world class manufacturing:

  • There’s no such thing as a world class plant without an actively engaged workforce.
  • The more employees who are engaged, and the fewer who are actively disengaged, the better the organisation performs.
  • Employee engagement can be measured.
  • There are 12 Top Motivators.
  • If you want to improve the performance of your plant, company or organisation, do as much as you can to address these, measure the results, and keep at it.

* The Gallup organisation ( has conducted more than thirty years of research into employee engagement, with nearly two million employees. They’ve boiled all of that down into the Top 12 Motivators and these are the Top Four. If you want the best motivated workforce in the world, try all Twelve! They’re at and you can read about them in the book “First Break All the Rules.”

Poor Activity

Hello all.

I’ve just registered on this site and am really disappointed to see that there really isn’t much activity on here. The posts which I’ve read are great but they’re very old and that is so disappointing. i am passionate about manufacturing, I know many of us are. We are hearing so much about the need for the Manufacturing Industry to lift this country out of the hard times and it’s fair to say that we are one of very few indusrties which are showing positive signs. Let’s get this blog more active. To be quite frank the decline in manufacturing which has happened over the past 30 years is something I could never understand, because as a young engineer I could only see that it would have an unhappy ending and I was right. So let’s get some cross sector chat going on this blog and let’s see if we can all do our little bit to use the industry, that we have worked in all our life,  to make this country great again.

Increase factory output: Part 3 – targets, feedback, recognition and reward

In previous posts we’ve looked at the “technical” side of increasing output – the tools and techniques. Now let’s look at the “people” side of things – how to get more from employees.


Most of us want to know what’s expected of us, we like to have something to aim for and we like to feel we’re making progress towards a worthy goal.


Usually, it’s not difficult to provide all of those things in the workplace. But too many of us don’t. Here’s how:


  1. Agree on two or three important objectives that are relevant to the work team – probably based around quality, productivity and service.
  2. Find some simple ways to measure them.
  3. Agree on regular targets – monthly, weekly, per shift, per hour.
  4. Make sure they’re visible to everyone in the work area.
  5. Display actual performance regularly and visually (electronic display or hand-written whiteboard).
  6. Recognise good results immediately.
  7. Train, help and encourage the team to solve any performance problems.
  8. Find ways to recognise and reward those who contribute the most. Be creative!
  9. Actively manage the performance of those who don’t contribute.
  10. Lock in the improvements
  11. Celebrate success
  12. Keep at it!

Benchmarking and Improvement – The “New” Malcolm Baldridge Award 2011-2012

Since my early days at Hewlett Packard I’ve been a great fan of the Malcolm Baldridge Award. In the US it’s a highly renowned and much-coveted Award and many organisations use it as a tool for benchmarking, assessment and performance measurement. In Europe it’s been “translated” into the EFQM Business Excellence Model.  

The principles on which it’s based are very simple but most people and organisations find them very difficult to apply consistently and well. Personally, I find it reassuring in some ways that Award-winners will typically score around 500 or 600 on a scale of 1,000.

I’ve always thought that if you spend your life telling other people how important it is for them to improve how they do things then  you’ve got be serious about improving your own approach. As the Americans themselves put it: “You’ve got to eat your own dog food!”

Which is exactly what the Baldridge folk themselves are doing, with the “New” Baldridge Award.

Here are some comments from the “Baldridge Blog” (my title, not theirs!)

“The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award came into being by act of Congress in 1987 at a time when the quality of many American products suffered by comparison to that of the Japanese. The criteria for the Award aligned with the teachings of great quality gurus like Deming and Juran. The goal was to improve quality so that American businesses would be more competitive.

Today, the Baldrige criteria address all of the elements that contribute to an organization’s success and sustainability, including quality, and are not limited to use by businesses. In fact, business accounted for just over 14% of this year’s Award applicants.

The name change precedes changes to the Baldrige criteria that the Baldrige program indicates will be available shortly. The 2011-2012 model should show significant improvements over the previous version, particularly in the customer focus area. Stay tuned for more details.”

James H. Heal & Co. gains another Manufacturer of the Year Award

Congratulations again to James H Heal!  Shortly after their successful Excellence in Business Award 2010 from the Yorkshire Post, they’ve won the “Manufacturer of the Year” award organised by the Halifax Evening Courier.  This award honours Calderdale’s strength and expertise as a centre of manufacturing excellence and the winner had to demonstrate the following:

  • A modern and efficient approach to manufacturing and marketing
  • A commitment to excellence in its products and service
  • A highly successful trading performance, preferably based on new and improved products as well as established lines
  • A strategy to reach new markets and improve reach within existing ones
  • Where applicable, a commitment to research and development

 Congratulations to everyone as you continue on your Lean Journey!