Tata Steel, the giant Indian conglomerate, acquired the steel manufacturing company Corus in 2007. Corus manufactures, processes and distributes steel and aluminium products worldwide and focuses on meeting the needs of its worldwide customers and providing innovative solutions.

While large parts of heavy industry struggle with idle plants and short-time working, can making is on the increase. As a result, Corus has raised the price of tinplate, a key material for food and drink cans, because of an increase in demand of up to 50%. This appears to be as a result of people altering their eating habits as households economise by staying in and eating at home. According to TNS, the market research group, sales of canned food, such as baked beans, sponge puddings and rice pudding greatly increased in the year ended February 2009 (The Times, 23 March 2009).

Some of the 14 can-making operations in Britain are working around the clock seven days a week to keep up with demand from the food and drink producers who fill the cans. The drinks can industry is expecting a boost from drinkers deciding to have a beer at home rather than at the pub. There is also evidence of cat and dog owners switching back from pouches to tinned pet food (The Times, 23 March 2009).

Read the Times 100 Corus case study which focuses on the process of Continuous Improvement at its CCI steel plate manufacturing mill at Scunthorpe and shows how the company is finding new ways of achieving its objectives from existing resources.