Five of the Midlands’ leading manufacturers are on course to secure major honours after making it through to the final of the Manufacturing Excellence Awards – the industry Oscars.

Sutton Coldfield-based garden equipment supplier Hozelock and axle systems specialist ZF Lemforder, of Solihull, are two of seventeen finalists in what is, Europe’s only best practice benchmarking scheme.

Hozelock is nominated in seven categories including the Innovation Xchange Award for Process Innovation, while Lemforder is nominated in four categories including the National B2B Centre Award for Integrated e-Business.

Joining them in the finals, which take place at The Dorchester Hotel in London on June 26, are motor component supplier Chassis Systems, of Telford, Coventry aerospace group Meggitt and Air Tube Conveyors, of Hartlebury, which manufactures pneumatic conveying systems, especially cash management such as ATMs.

The Telford firm is nominated twice, as is Meggitt, while Air Tube Conveyors is up for the IMechE Award for Financial Management.

With the region supplying almost one third of the finalists, the West Midlands is by far the best represented area of the country.

Under normal circumstances David Wright, chief executive of the Manufacturing Advisory Service – West Midlands, would be delighted.

However, as a judge in the competition, which is organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, he has to be independent.

He said: “The IMechE MX judges have selected these finalists to showcase how UK engineers and manufacturers are amongst the global leaders in competitiveness and innovation and are inspiring the next generation of engineers to enter this exciting, highly-competitive sector.”

Between then, the finalists are up for 13 awards including Product Innovation, Process Innovation, Best Finance Management, Best SME, Best Business Education Partnership and Sustainable Manufacturing. Past winners have included Ford, Land Rover and BAE Systems.

Baroness Vadera, a Business Minister and former adviser to Gordon Brown, said: “Manufacturing is the unsung hero of the British economy.

‘‘Following a restructuring in the sector UK manufacturing companies are a global success story based on their productivity, innovation and specialist skills.”

“The MX finalists prove innovation is the key to maintaining their record in a fiercely competitive global market.

‘‘These companies showcase the best of Britain’s talent and I congratulate them,” she added.