Belfast Telegraph

Biochips and wood chips are top award winners

By Symon Ross

Two Northern Ireland firms have landed top prizes at the UK Manufacturing Excellence Awards.

Crumlin-based Randox Laboratories won the award for product innovation and Balcas Timber from Enniskillen emerged with the sustainable manufacturing gong at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ run ceremony.

It is the first time that two of the ten key manufacturing excellence awards have come to Northern Ireland.

Bob McCullagh, from the awards’ co-sponsor PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: “These awards demonstrate that Northern Ireland manufacturers can hold their own in a world-class competition for innovation, productivity and sustainable manufacturing processes.

“The judging process benchmarks company performance against world-class organisations across a number of criteria and performance standards.

“Northern Ireland has historically performed well in this competition, but to win two of the ten key awards in 2009 is outstanding and a tribute to the management and workers in both companies.”

Randox’s winning product innovation is the biochip. The so-called ‘lab-on-a-chip’, is a 9mm square ceramic chip which is a technology platform for a whole new range of clinical tests. In 2008, there were 258 new tests devised; this year, 405 are under development as part of a defined and repeatable innovation process.

Wood processing company Balcas Timber picked up the sustainable manufacturing award for its renewable energy facility involving combined heat and power and wood pellet manufacturing, both fuelled by sawdust and wood chip from its sawmilling operations to produce bio fuel pellets.

Belfast Telegraph