Exercise '81: The introduction of new manufacturing technologies into Babcock Power Ltd

Wield, David (1985). Exercise '81: The introduction of new manufacturing technologies into Babcock Power Ltd. In: Rhodes, Edward and Wield, David eds. Implementing New Technologies: Choice, Decision and Change in Manufacturing. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 19–40.

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Abstract

This case study focuses on major changes in a large company whose main product is steam generating equipment for electricity production. The study begins by situating the company in the context of the British steam generating industry and its markets. It goes on to describe Exercise '81, a cost-reduction programme which followed a major £20 million investment in new equipment. Its principal corporate goal was, given the large decline in the home market, to cut costs by 25 per cent to make the company internationally competitive in an increasingly cut-throat market environment. This included a major reorganization of working practices in the company. Babcock management set out with a view that management and unions would need to identify a joint goal if changes radical enough to sustain Babcock's competitiveness were to be achieved. The case study describes senior management perceptions of, and actions to gain acceptance of, the changes in all sections of the work force situated in the highly industrialized and unionized Clydeside. Technical, operational and financial aspects of Exercise '81 will also be detailed and evaluated. Finally, events will be summarized since the implementation of this new technology.

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