The quest

There's something in human nature that pushes us to always want to know about the best. From the "Car of the Year" to the Oscars, from Consumer Reports to the Fortune 500, we just keep feeding this insatiable appetite for rating things. The winners in our own version, the PLANT ENGINEERING Product of the Year Awards, are presented in this issue along with FAME Award and Shingo Prize winners.


There's something in human nature that pushes us to always want to know about the best. From the "Car of the Year" to the Oscars, from Consumer Reports to the Fortune 500, we just keep feeding this insatiable appetite for rating things. The winners in our own version, the PLANT ENGINEERING Product of the Year Awards, are presented in this issue along with FAME Award and Shingo Prize winners.

Right behind wondering who or what the best are, we usually want to know how they got to be the best.

A review of the winners presented in this issue reveals a couple of common traits.

First is innovation, or creativity. It's pretty clear that these winners understand the old admonition, "if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you always got." All of these winners have found ways of doing things differently, whether it's a different design of a product or a new procedure at work. All of the products listed are innovative, either as completely new products or as useful redesigns and improvements on previous versions. Some of the Shingo Prize winners report thousands of innovations in the way they work in their plants.

The second trait is a discipline for innovation and change. Better products and better ways of doing things don't just happen. These companies work at making changes; they're organized to ensure improvement. They learn from others, and they use that knowledge to their own advantage. They measure and they manage innovation.

There are a number of popular methodologies for managing innovation and change, of course. Six Sigma, Kanban, Kaizen, Poka Yoke, Toyota Production System, Total Productive Maintenance, TRIZ, Lean manufacturing, and the Taguchi method are a few. There are many differences among these initiatives, but they all formalize the relentless pursuit of improvement. And it may be this sustained effort that is as important as any particular method.

The InnovationNetwork ( ) offers a number of insights on what it takes to sustain the creativity side of innovation. Many of these echo the premises of the management initiatives mentioned previously. A few examples are: creating a culture that honors ideas and supports risk-taking; creating a process that organizes, focuses, and controls the implementation effort; developing a system to capture, sort, and prioritize ideas; and training and coaching your innovation and implementation team members.

Combining these concepts with the disciplines of the various continuous improvement initiatives makes for a strong program.

The quest for the best shouldn't be a Quixotic or vicarious adventure. As the winners in this issue's pages show us, achieving "best" status is achieved through dedicated, sustained, and disciplined efforts.

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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