Reaching the Summit

PLANT ENGINEERING honored manufacturing’s outstanding new products and exceptional manufacturing facilities at its 2006 Product of the Year and Top Plant awards dinner April 2 at the Hotel Sofitel in Chicago. The dinner, part of PLANT ENGINEERING’s two-day Manufacturing Summit, featured awards for the 52 outstanding new products as selected by the magazine’s readers.
By Bob Vavra, Editor April 15, 2007

PLANT ENGINEERING honored manufacturing’s outstanding new products and exceptional manufacturing facilities at its 2006 Product of the Year and Top Plant awards dinner April 2 at the Hotel Sofitel in Chicago.

The dinner, part of PLANT ENGINEERING ’s two-day Manufacturing Summit, featured awards for the 52 outstanding new products as selected by the magazine’s readers. Baldor Electric, which had won five Product of the Year awards in previous years, received its first Grand Award for its stainless-steel servo-rated gearheads. The Grand Award is presented to the product that receives the most individual votes.

The 2006 Top Plant award was presented to Toyota of Georgetown, KY; Square D of Lincoln, NE; and BMW of Spartanburg, SC. These three plants were judged as the outstanding manufacturing facilities of 2006 by the editors of PLANT ENGINEERING magazine.

Delivering the keynote address at the dinner, Schneider Electric North America president and CEO Dave Petratis told the record crowd of 140 people in attendance that issues such as the pace of change, the competitiveness of American manufacturing and competition in a global arena would continue to be challenges. Petratis said those challenges needed to be not just acknowledged by American manufacturers, but actively addressed.

Petratis said issues such as energy efficiency must be viewed in a more holistic sense. He noted that issues such as the reduction in greenhouse emissions, zero-waste generators and recycled nuclear waste would be crucial issues to be wrestled with in the coming years.

“We must make the education of our young people our number one priority,” Petratis said in talking about workforce development, a topic revisited by Tony Raimondo of Behlen Manufacturing during Tuesday’s keynote address.

In addition to a roundtable presentation that featured managers from the Toyota, BMW and Square D plants, the two-day Manufacturing Summit brought together experts on manufacturing execution systems; wireless monitoring, networking and control; and energy efficiency to discuss those issues with plant managers and manufacturing experts. The roundtable discussions will be reported in the May issue of PLANT ENGINEERING .