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By Bob Vavra April 13, 2007


PLANT ENGINEERING publisher Jim Langhenry (left) with Jamie McDonald, plant manager of the Square D plant in Lincoln, NE. Square D was one of three manufacturing facilities to receive the 2006 Top Plant award.

PLANT ENGINEERING honored its manufacturing’s outstanding new products and outstanding 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 to the 52 outstanding new products as selected by the magazine’s readers. Baldor Electric, which had won five previous Product of the Year awards, received its first ever Grand Award for its stainless steel servo rated gearheads. The Grand Award is presented to the product that receives the most individual awards from magazine readers.

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

Delivering the keynote address at the dinner, Schneider Electric North America president and CEO Dave Petratis told more than 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 that needed to be not just acknowledged by American manufacturers, but actively addressed.

Petratis said issues such as energy efficiency needed to 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,” said Petratis in talking about workforce development. That was a topic addressed by Tony Raimondo of Belden Manufacturing at the Tuesday roundtable presentation that featured plant personnel from the Toyota, BMW and Square D plants.

The two-day Manufacturing Summit brought together experts on manufacturing execution systems, wireless monitoring and control and energy efficiency to discuss those issues before plant managers and manufacturing experts. The roundtable discussions will be reported in the May issue of PLANT ENGINEERING.