Best Products

Article excerpt

BEST PRODUCTS It has taken 20 years for Land Rover to discover the Discovery, ten years for London Jazz Radio to bring Jazz FM to its discerning yuppie audience and some 15 years for Glaxo to crack the side effects of chemotherapy. All star in Management Today's third annual Best British Products Awards.

Sick as the British economy might now look -- with 10% inflation, a 12.3 pounds billion balance of payments deficit and recession looming--it is comforting to see that British industry has not lost its inventive genius.

Not that everywhere in the plant is rosy. Of the 15 sectors of the economy which we traditionally cover, only 14 have generated a worthwhile product in the opinion of the top City analysts who act as judge and jury. John Dunsmore, our drinks sector judge for the last three years, could find nothing to compare with the single malt whisky of 1988 or the canned draught Guinness of 1989.

In contrast, media analyst Terry Connor seemed spoiled for choice. New launches in 1990 include House Beautiful and Hello. The relaunch of The Sunday Correspondent has also made headlines, but it is too early to judge its success. In the end, Connor awarded the prize to Jazz FM for its musically and managerially exciting performance.

On a different note, Britain's love affair with everything green has been spreading into food. It was a close-run thing, with Cadbury's new extruded chocolate bar, the Spira, a popular alternative to Birds Eye's Healthy Options.

Going green isn't the only virtue to warrant Sainsbury's award for food retailing. The own label real coffee range has been packed in one container rather than in the original foil vacuum pack and cardboard box, so it is saving on trees, but also on money.

In the rough, tough world of the '90s, it is imperative that Britain keeps its innovative edge and this is precisely what the Management Today awards are designed to celebrate. But British industry can no longer afford to spend many years on product development. Let us remember that, in the 1990s, the slugabeds of British business will not survive.

MOTORS

Electronic Unit Injector

Lucas Automotive

John Lawson

of Nomura Research

With the automobile cast as the villain in the green '90s, it is no surprise which product Nomura Research analyst John Lawson has chosen. That is Lucas Automotive's electronic unit injector (EUI), a highspeed, fuel injection system that helps bring diesel truck engines within the stringent requirements of US environmental laws taking effect from 1994. Lucas' EUI -- developed by its diesel systems division -- is being hailed as the first of a new generation of electronic controls on engine emissions that manages to maintain performance and fuel economy, while meeting the new green standards. Lucas Automotive managing director Bob Dale says engine making is undergoing its own revolution. 'These are new engines, and this is new technology for a new era.' The EUI, through its computer-controlled electronics, brings exceptional precision to two vital aspects that determine vehicle exhaust emissions -- the timing of fuel injections to each cylinder, and the rate of fuel flow. The EUI is designed with a separate pump and solenoid valve for each cylinder. The combined unit in each cylinder is controlled by an onboard

computer so that the timing and fuel mixture can be set to deliver the optimum performance. The computer does this by monitoring camshaft position, the accelerator pedal position, engine speed, boost pressure and engine temperature, and comparing this with pre-programmed data stored in the computer memory. As well as improving overall fuel efficiency, the EUI improves engine performance and reduces noise levels. The product is now being used in a new Caterpillar 3176 engine. 'Besides that we have a lot of interest from other customers in Europe and in the US. …