The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) is to provide over 1 million worth of free consulting advice to UK companies next year as part of its Manufacturing Excellence Awards programme (MX).

The advice takes the form of comprehensive benchmarking reports, valued at over 10,000 per company by KPMG, and freely available to any UK-based manufacturer entering the 2005 MX Awards, regardless of their size. The reports provide an impartial and confidential assessment of a companys current performance using a structured scoring system against acknowledged best practice. In addition, the reports recommend ways in which to improve performance, taking into consideration each companys size and its resources.

The Awards, which were first organised by the IMechE in 1982, are free to enter and expected to attract over 500 category entries in the coming year. All entrants will also qualify for a free diagnostic 'health check' visit from the DTIs Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS). These visits involve up to a further five days on-site consultation, assessing productivity levels as well as providing feedback and advice. Recent research suggests that companies assisted by the MAS have, on average, seen their overall value increase by 104,000.

Jacqui Smith, Minister for Industry, commented:

MX commands enormous respect in UK industry by consistently deliver an in-depth analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of its entrants.

John Ling, Technical Manager at the IMechE, added:

By entering the MX programme, you not only find out where your company stands in relation to your competitors but you come away with a good deal of sound advice to put into practice. Weve known instances where this has been directly responsible for a 20% increase in turnover.

Applicants to the MX programme are required to fill out a self-assessment audit which is sent to them on receipt of an MX 2005 Awards entry form. For entry forms, log on to

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