In the beginning…

When Plant Engineering magazine was introduced in November 1947, the United States was transitioning from World War II and the Cold War. The United States emerged from World War II to face a political and military scene changed forever by that conflict. In 1947, the Soviet Union was becoming an actively hostile and dangerous opponent.


When Plant Engineering magazine was introduced in November 1947, the United States was transitioning from World War II and the Cold War. The United States emerged from World War II to face a political and military scene changed forever by that conflict. In 1947, the Soviet Union was becoming an actively hostile and dangerous opponent. In order to combat the Soviets, President Harry S. Truman wanted to create the structures that guaranteed America's national security as well as lasting world peace.

Investments in the war effort led to a sizeable and significant contribution to growth in manufacturing from 1947 to 1972. The U.S. aviation industry was the largest manufacturing industry in the world in that era. The need for better aircraft for the military and more modern aircraft for the commercial airlines included new airports, the training of mechanics and technicians and the development, production and storage of fuel.

While America's growth in manufacturing soared, the rest of the industrialized world sat in postwar wreckage. Europe and Japan were physically and economically shattered by the war, which gave U.S. manufacturers a virtual monopoly in international trade. The U.S. economy escalated. The GNP grew an astounding 250% between 1945 and 1960. Personal income began to grow, and, as a result, reached a record high rate of 3.9% in 1960. Consequently, life became easier after the war; the grinding workweek was no longer a necessity. Instead, workers had spare time and greater purchasing power, which further stimulated the economy. Automation helped worker productivity rise by 35% between 1945 and 1960. Peacetime production had to meet the growing demand for consumer goods that was fueled by wartime incomes, so after the war, American industrialists put $10 billion a year into new plants and machinery.

Automobile manufacturing increased to meet demand, and provided jobs and a surge in the postwar economy. During World War II, large automobile manufacturing firms produced the majority of aircraft engines and propellers, but the automakers rapidly left the aircraft industry at the war's end, and their factories were converted to automobile manufacturing and other civilian purposes. The petroleum industry also made a decisive contribution to expanding the industrial world.

Plant Engineering magazine emerged because of the growth in generation and utilization of power. In the magazine's first issue, the publishers stated, “Plant Engineering will be developed to the needs and interests of those men who are responsible for the general operation and maintenance of the entire plant. It will concern itself with such matters as steam distribution throughout the plant, with plumbing, heating and drinking water systems.”

The editors and publishers also recognized that, “WWII did more to advance the art of maintenance than any other event in the history of our country,” so one of their main focuses was maintenance. “Maintenance Hints,” along with “New Equipment and Methods,” “Digest,” “Question and Answer” and “Plant Engineer's Library” were the features in its early years. These focused on description of new commercial products, abstracts of articles in other publications, readers' problems and book reviews.

Many of the key topics in 1947 were different than the ones in 2007. Topics like safety, estimating and reducing costs are still a focus, modern washrooms are not. The keyword 60 years ago was modern, and the idea of using color was a modern one. In the first editions of Plant Engineering , color was used sparingly and the cover was the only page to fully use the beyond black-and-white appearance.

From Plant Engineering's first issue in 1947 through today, the publishers and editors have strived to stay on top of emerging issues. In 1947, it was the impact of the Marshall Plan. Today, it is the evolution of wireless monitoring.

The global economy that was devastated in 1947 has caught, and in some places passed, the U.S. Breaking the sound barrier in 1947 was considered revolutionary; today, manufacturing changes at the speed of light.

That change, as we will see in the coming months, has been chronicled in Plant Engineering , which has kept readers informed about how to run a better plant for 60 years.

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
October 2018
Tools vs. sensors, functional safety, compressor rental, an operational network of maintenance and safety
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
October 2018
Complex upgrades for system integrators; Process control safety and compliance
September 2018
Effective process analytics; Four reasons why LTE networks are not IIoT ready

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
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