About the IndustryWeek Best Plants Program

Established in 1990, IndustryWeek's annual salute to outstanding North American manufacturing facilities serves two purposes:

  • To recognize plants that are on the leading edge of efforts to increase competitiveness, enhance customer satisfaction, and create stimulating and rewarding work environments.
  • To encourage other manufacturing managers and work teams to emulate the honorees by adopting world-class practices, technologies, and improvement strategies.

See Also: Meet the 2015 IW Best Plants winners

See Also: Download a 2016 IW Best Plants competition entry form. Deadline to return a completed entry form is July 1.

Why Participate? 

All entrants receive the following: a customized benchmark report; an IW Best Plants Statistical Profile; and reduced or complimentary registration to the IW Manufacturing & Technology Conference & Expo, formerly the IW Best Plants Conference.

  • IndustryWeek spotlights the winners and their strategies for success in a signature feature package. Gain national recognition and give your employees a public pat on the back for their hard work.
  • Winners receive two complimentary registrations to the annual IW Manufacturing & Technology Conference & Expo.
  • Finalists receive one complimentary registration to the annual IW Manufacturing & Technology Conference & Expo.
  • Applicants that do not qualify as a winner or finalist receive 50% off one registration for the annual IW Manufacturing & Technology Conference & Expo.
  • All applicants also receive customized benchmarking reports that show how their metrics compare with all other applicants (in the aggregate). In addition, all participants receive an IW Statistical Profile that provides benchmarking data from five years of Best Plants winners and finalists.

See Also: Sign up to receive a 2016 IW Best Plants application


Candidate facilities are judged by a panel of IndustryWeek editors, who may solicit independent evaluations from manufacturing experts and other knowledgeable persons. The panel looks for evidence of:

  • A comprehensive effort to achieve world-class manufacturing capability.
  • Management practices geared to motivating achievement of breakthroughs in operating performance and customer satisfaction, as well as cultivating continuous improvement.
  • Strong quality systems and results, including evidence of low defect rates and good process-control capability.
  • Extensive employee involvement and empowerment programs, especially efforts to create and provide training for high-performance work teams.
  • A strong customer focus, including formal customer-satisfaction programs, customer involvement in product design, employee contact with customers, and efforts to reduce customer leadtimes.
  • Effective supplier-partnership programs, including efforts to solicit supplier evaluations of plant practices.
  • Appropriate use of technology, as required by changing business needs.
  • Flexible and/or agile production systems capable of responding quickly to customer needs and shifts in the marketplace. The flexibility may be the result of intelligent automation and information technology, just-in-time/continuous-flow production systems, use of quick-changeover methods, a multiskilled workforce, small-lot production, focused-factory plant design, or other lean initiatives.
  • Improvements in manufacturing operations, including shortening of manufacturing cycle times, improvements in productivity, and reduction of inventories.
  • Proactive environmental and safety practices.


Candidates for IndustryWeek's 2016 North American Best Plants competition must:

Be a single manufacturing plant or a combination of related facilities within a specific geographic location (not to exceed a 25-mile distance from plant to plant) and under the direction of a single management team. To qualify as a manufacturing facility, the plant's output should be a physical product representing value-added.

Have completed at least three years of operation as of January 1, 2016. Plant startup on or before January 1, 2013.

Be located within the United States or its territories, Mexico, or Canada. Eligibility is not limited to plants owned by U.S.-based parent companies.

Not have been honored as an IW Best Plants in the previous two years.

Selection Process  

Completed applications are reviewed by a judging panel of IW editors and trusted advisors. Using a weighted scoring system, the composite ratings of the judges determine the Best Plants finalists. The finalists receive a second questionnaire seeking documentation of achievements and presenting plant-specific follow-up questions.

After a subsequent review of the information submitted in the follow-up questionnaire, along with additional supporting materials, the IW judging panel tentatively selects North American winners, pending validation during site visits. The confirmed winners are publicly recognized.

2016 IW Best Plants Application  

Click here to receive a 2016 IW Best Plants application.

Timetable For 2016 Competition  

April 2016 2016 Applications available
June 1, 2016 Early bird deadline for return of completed entry forms with supporting statements.
July 1, 2016 Deadline for return of completed entry forms with supporting statements.
September 2016 Selection of finalists.
October  2016 Selection of IW Best Plants pending validation visits
Oct.-Dec. 2016 IW editors visit plants to validate selections and conduct interviews
January  2017 Winners announced
2017 Meet the 2016 winners at the 2017 IW Manufacturing & Technology Conference & Expo.


For further information, contact Jill Jusko at (216) 931-9311 or jjusko@industryweek.com.


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