Honoring manufacturing’s future

Infor receives Product of the Year Grand Award, Phoenix Contact accepts Top Plant, Leaders Under 40 honored.

By Bob Vavra April 4, 2016

It was a night to recognize the future in manufacturing as well as in its people and products as Plant Engineering presented the 2015 Product of the Year Grand Award to Infor, recognized Phoenix Contact USA as the 2015 Top Plant Award winner, and celebrated the achievements of the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40.

The annual CFE Media Engineering Awards in Manufacturing banquet, co-sponsored by Hannover Fairs USA, also honored Control Engineering’s 2016 Engineer’s Choice Award recipients. More than 150 people attended the awards dinner in Chicago on March 21, wrapping up a day of knowledge and information that included the popular Marketing to Engineers seminar series.

Infor’s CloudSuite Facilities Management was the winner of the 28th annual Grand Award, presented to the product that receives the most individual votes from among the products voted on by Plant Engineering readers. There were 111 product finalists in 15 categories this year, and 48 trophies were presented.

The Infor Cloud Suite is designed to help customers reduce inefficiencies, costly maintenance requirements and missed business opportunities by delivering greater asset visibility to help streamline core processes. Infor also received a Gold Award in the energy management category.

"These award wins are very exciting for our team and only solidify the great work we are doing with our products at Infor," said Kevin Price, director of product management and product strategy, Infor. "We would like to thank everyone who voted for Infor CloudSuite Facilities Management and Infor EAM Energy Performance Management. We are very excited to carry this momentum as we move into the next fiscal year and beyond."

Phoenix Contact was recognized as the 2015 Top Plant Award winner. A German-based company, Phoenix Contact built its business in Harrisburg, Pa., from a distribution center in the 1980s to a progressive manufacturing center that now exports some of its work back to Germany for global distribution.

As demand for Phoenix Contact’s locally designed and manufactured products has grown, so has the company. In 2014, Phoenix Contact completed construction of a 125,000 square-foot addition to its U.S. facility. The expansion included 50,000 sq. ft. of production and support space and 50,000 sq. ft. of office and lab space. The company went from no exports a decade ago to exporting around 30 percent of its manufacturing dollar volume in 2015.

"The development and manufacturing investments were founded on the principle that being close to our customers would bring significant benefits in speed and flexibility. Our growth is recognition that these high-quality facilities and people are delivering that value," said Dave Skelton, vice president and general manager, Phoenix Contact D&M, who accepted the award on behalf of the company at the awards dinner.

"At Phoenix Contact, we believe we have proven that with the right strategy and the right focus on our people, we can successfully manufacture in the U.S. and compete globally," said Jack Nehlig, president of Phoenix Contact USA. "It was decisive investment, a focus on the long term, the pursuit of excellence while you do it and really treating our people right that made the difference. We are honored to receive the 2015 Top Plant Award, which is a testimony to the success of those decisions."

The future of manufacturing also was recognized, as 13 of the record 32 recipients of the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40 program received their plaques at the dinner. The program, a joint effort between Control Engineering and Plant Engineering, honored the top North American manufacturing professionals under the age of 40 at manufacturing facilities around the country. Recipients came from all over the continent including California, Maine, Florida and Calgary, Alberta, to receive this honor.

The day’s activities began with a series of presentations by marketing, content and manufacturing experts at the fifth annual Marketing to Engineers seminar, co-sponsored by Be Found Online. The discussions included panel talks with marketing and manufacturing executives and a look at the most effective ways to provide valuable content to manufacturing personnel.

While content marketing is a key component of the marketing process today, Michael Balsam, vice president and lead analyst for Outsell, noted the personal touch also is still necessary.

"It’s important to show up in a room with your client, with your peers, with your prospects from time to time," Balsam told more than 150 marketing professionals at the seminar. "It used to be ‘show up and then come back next year.’ What we see now is continuous engagement with customers."

Part of that includes an engaging Website. Tracy Long, vice president of marketing for Baldor Electric, noted their two-year experience included improving both the content and the customer experience.

"You’ve got to be able to find content quickly, and you’ve got to be able to get it when you want it," Long said of the customer interaction with the Web. "Bring them to the destination and then bring them home (to the content). Your customers deserve an experience like this. It will work, and our customers and your business will be glad that you did it."

Steve Krull, founder and CEO of Be Found Online, noted the use of content to attract and retain customers at a Website continues to be the new wave of marketing to manufacturing professionals. "None of this works without content. Content resonates with your audience," Krull said. "You should always be looking at the data to connect the dots, but don’t kill yourself here. You’re never finished."

Author Bio: Bob is the Content Manager for Plant Engineering.