The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has begun the search for the UK’s best manufacturers as it launches the Manufacturing Excellence 2012 competition.

Manufacturing Excellence works with all manufacturing businesses whatever their size, age, sector or area of expertise to help improve their processes and showcase their successes and innovations.

Last year’s winners included mechanical seals manufacturer AESSEAL, transit packaging manufacturer Loadhog, train manufacturer Bombardier and Agfa Graphics.

Philippa Oldham, head of manufacturing at the institution, said: “If we want to see the UK economy thrive once again, we need to see a resurgence in UK manufacturing.”

Oldham continued: “Manufacturing Excellence not only identifies and celebrates outstanding UK manufacturing businesses but can also help underperforming companies’ improve. Past winners have shown that by taking part and adopting best practice they can thrive, grow and become global players.”

The institution is now calling for businesses to apply to the programme. Entry is free and there is up to £20,000 worth of free consultancy advice to be won, as well as the chance to win at the awards in November.