FINDING a way to reduce the amount of wood used to make its products helped LHT Holdings clinch a new award last night.

The company was one of 16 in the manufacturing sector honoured for efforts to innovate and achieve sustainable growth.

LHT Holdings received the inaugural Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) Business Model Innovation Award, along with five other companies.

Sustainable Growth Awards were also conferred at the SMF's 82nd anniversary gala dinner yesterday.

LHT Holdings used to make pallets from timber but environmental considerations and business pressures prompted it to develop a new pallet from waste wood.

Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said at the event: "Not only is the new series more environmentally friendly, but it reduces the number of steps in the manufacturing process by more than half.

"Companies like LHT Holdings have demonstrated it is necessary and possible to continually adapt to an evolving operating environment and different economic conditions, so that the business continues to grow."

He also noted that manufacturing has been a critical pillar of growth for the economy since the 1930s, when the SMF was set up.

"The strength of manufacturing today is testament to the concerted efforts of organisations such as SMF, working together with the Government, to grow the sector over the decades."

Mr Tan also reiterated the need for businesses to restructure to achieve quality growth.

Restructuring is difficult, but "we need to persevere... to ensure that these short-term pains translate into long-term gains". Companies must focus not just on coping but transforming and thriving, he said. That could mean a fundamental relook at the business, going beyond trying to cut costs.