2014 Top Plant winners announced

Victaulic and Mother Parkers are honored with Plant Engineering's top manufacturing honor.

By Bob Vavra, Content Manager, CFE Media December 15, 2014

In manufacturing today, the pace of growth and the pace of change barely can keep up with one another. Manufacturing has been the driving force behind the re-emergence of the U.S. economy from recession. Growth in manufacturing is no longer seen as a passing fad; it is real, and with a productive workforce that much of the rest of the world has been unable to duplicate, the U.S. manufacturing sector has been the worldwide economic leader over the past few years.

The need for speed also requires a need for technology to help us keep up with change. The growth of Big Data requires a similar growth in the technologies to help plant leaders manage and make sense of it all. The result has been not just greater productivity, but greater efficiency for both man and machine. But with all of this comes greater complexity, and great challenges. To be good enough is no longer good enough. You have to be great today, and work to be greater tomorrow.

You have to be a Top Plant.

All manufacturers face challenges in today’s global manufacturing landscape. The great manufacturing plants embrace the challenges and turn them into opportunities. The 2014 Top Plant winners are two facilities which have built their success on a foundation of continuous improvement and rapid growth while not abandoning the core principles of safety, productivity and quality.

A decade ago, the single-serving coffee market didn’t exist. Today, a thirsty consumer wants variety, new flavors and new flexibility. Mother Parker’s saw the potential in the single-serving coffee market and expanded its manufacturing facility in Mississauga, Ontario to meet the changing needs of the market.

Adding 300 SKUs in three years was one challenge for Mother Parker’s; doing that while maintaining and even improving its safety and productivity record was quite another.

Accomplishing all its goals while continuing to expand made Mother Parker’s one of this year’s Top Plant recipients.

For Victaulic, safety has been a journey, and that journey has not always been a smooth one. Over the last eight years, however, the pipe and couplings manufacturer near Easton, Pa., has made safety the emphasis of the plant’s manager and his safety team. Victaulic became a plant where safety was expected, where it was championed, and where it was celebrated. The most recent celebration came when, after reducing recordable incidents by 87% in seven years, Victaulic received OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Merit designation. Safety, like all other plant metrics, exists in the moment and must be a constant center of attention. But in reversing the past safety trends, Victaulic found the other parts of its operation improving as well.

For a Top Plant, continuous improvement isn’t just a phrase that is used in the corporate brochure; it is a way of life. Our 2014 Top Plant recipients continue down their path of continuous improvement, but their journey is a guidepost for others hoping to get on that path.

– Bob Vavra, Content Manager, CFE Media.

See Top Plant stories about Mother Parkers and Victaulic below.