Summit tackles sustainability, aging workforce, handling data

Returning to the site of last year’s successful inaugural event, the 2008 PLANT ENGINEERING Manufacturing Summit opens with lead sponsor IBM March 31 and continues through April 1, 2008, at the Hotel Sofitel in Chicago.


Returning to the site of last year’s successful inaugural event, the 2008 PLANT ENGINEERING Manufacturing Summit opens with lead sponsor IBM March 31 and continues through April 1, 2008, at the Hotel Sofitel in Chicago.

“We are obviously thrilled to continue our relationship with IBM,” said PLANT ENGINEERING publisher Jim Langhenry. “IBM helped develop our successful study, 'The Changing Role of the Plant Engineer,’ and the insight from that study helped us develop the content for this year’s Summit.”

The Changing Role study appears in full for the first time in this month’s issue of the magazine, and more data will be available online. Three major themes that emerged from the study will be reported on at the 2008 Summit. They include:

  • Energy and sustainability: “The idea of conserving energy has been discussed for a long time, but the concept of preserving energy is a relatively new one,” said PLANT ENGINEERING editor Bob Vavra. “Our readers told us in the study about the importance of creating not just an energy-efficient plant, but also one that is focused on leaving a smaller environmental footprint. One session at the Manufacturing Summit will focus on sustainability as both a successful social and business strategy that doesn’t have to sacrifice one goal for the other.”

  • The next generation of manufacturing workers: “After energy and budget issues, the biggest concern for plant managers is finding, training and retaining skilled manufacturing workers,” said Vavra. “Our readers know they have to recruit harder and smarter these days to meet the convergence of two key trends: the retirement of an aging workforce that will take experience along with them, and the ability to attract skilled plant personnel to successfully operate today’s high-tech manufacturing plant. Another Summit session will focus on this aging workforce and discuss ways to bring new workers into manufacturing.”

  • Turning data into action: “Today’s highly automated manufacturing plants give plant managers all the data they could ever want. They also get data they don’t need,” said Vavra. “Finding the right data, and acting on it to bring about changes in energy consumption, productivity, safety and maintenance performance is a major challenge. We’ll use one session at the Manufacturing Summit to look at how data is collected, and supply some strategies on how that data can be turned into action.”

    • The Summit will bring together major suppliers, manufacturers and industry leaders to discuss these issues, and to recognize outstanding achievements in manufacturing in 2007.

      In its 20th year, PLANT ENGINEERING ’s Product of the Year awards will be presented at a gala dinner on March 31. More than 130 products selected by our jury of judges are featured in this month’s issue, and readers now have the opportunity to vote on the top products in each of 18 categories. The single product that receives the most votes will be selected as the Grand Award winner, joining 2006 Grand Winner Baldor Electric Co.

      The recognition continues with an award breakfast event April 1, where the 2007 Top Plant award will be presented. The winners of this year’s Top Plant award will be revealed in the December issue of PLANT ENGINEERING and join a prestigious group of past winners that includes BMW, Square D, Toyota, Daimler-Chrysler and HP.

      “Product of the Year is the most important new product award in the industry,” said Vavra. “It is also a chance for our readers to both participate in choosing the top new products and to preview products that will help their plants run safer, faster and more efficiently.

      “Those manufacturing facilities selected as the 2007 Top Plant winners are great examples of the kind of facilities that combine the issues we will raise at the Manufacturing Summit and who use the latest products and strategies effectively,” said Vavra. “We think they stand as great examples of the kind of dynamic manufacturing strategies that drive growth in U.S. manufacturing.”

      Registration for the 2008 Manufacturing Summit is now open. Registration forms are now available online. Click here .

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