Publisher's Page -- How are Your Competitors Getting Better in 2010?

If you're committed to continuous improvement and profitable manufacturing operations, there is only one place to be April 19-21 -- the IW Best Plants Conference.

Many minds are better than a few when it comes to finding ways to improve the operations of your business. And when those minds belong to some of the leading manufacturing experts in the world, it's even better. That's why I'm confident your decision to attend IW's 2010 Best Plants Conference will be among the best investments you'll make this year in pursuing continuous improvement at your operations.

After the harsh economic realities of the last 12 months, some companies are still very cautious about investing in their operations and their people. While that is understandable, it's important to realize that now is the time to set the groundwork for your company's rebound. Now is the time to implement best practices. Now is the time to leverage the vast experience and knowledge available to you.

When you look at the choice of opportunities before you, you'll agree that attending Best Plants offers you a huge potential return on investment. Just ask yourself: Have we ever benefited from one great idea? What did it do for us? Did we make or save $10,000? $100,000? More than likely, it was much more than that.

Our editors have traveled throughout North America on plant visits and have met with executives and operations managers who have recounted ideas they implemented from our Best Plants Conference. Some of those ideas came from conference speakers. Others came from the plant tours in which they participated. And still others came from the networking opportunities the conference provides -- an introduction in a hallway or a conversation over lunch. That's the great advantage of this 2 1/2-day event -- a chance to meet manufacturing leaders who share your day-to-day concerns and who have implemented world-class solutions to meet those challenges.

What's in store for you at the IW Best Plants Conference? You'll hear thought-provoking keynote presentations on staying competitive in manufacturing from two outstanding industrial leaders -- Nucor Corp. COO John Ferriola and Kathy Miller, Parker Hannifin's vice president of lean enterprise and quality. Best Plants offers a rich, time-efficient menu of sessions on all aspects of manufacturing operations and techniques -- from implementing kaizen techniques to leveraging the power of employee engagement to improving supplier relationships and reducing supply chain risk. In just two days, you'll share in the real-world experiences of experts from companies such as Canon, Philips, Ingersoll Rand, Owens Corning, Ford, Milliken and Autoliv.

A unique benefit of the Best Plants conference is meeting the team members responsible for those world-class operations -- the winners of the 2009 Best Plants competition. You'll have a chance to network with representatives of Batesville Casket, Carrier, E-Z-GO, General Cable, Masco, Nordson, Philips and Raytheon, all of whom help to manage the people, processes and technologies that keep their facilities progressing on a continuous-improvement path.

Best Plants also provides a convenient way to put you on other plant floors to view their operations and processes. Ford Motor, Timken, Jergens and Lincoln Electric are opening their doors to provide living classrooms for Best Plants attendees.

No conference should be all work and no play, so on April 20 we're providing VIP access to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum -- a great opportunity to kick back, channel your inner Mick Jagger or Tina Turner and relive the sights and sounds of rock 'n' roll's greatest performers.

Some pundits like to claim that manufacturing in the United States is on its deathbed. They're full of hyperbole and short on answers. We hope they stay home this April. Best Plants is for every manufacturing operations leader who knows that each day offers the opportunity for improvement. If your goal is a better manufacturing operation, there is a simple, proven way to help make that happen. See you at the 2010 IW Best Plants Conference.

Ron Lowy is IndustryWeek's publisher. He is based in Cleveland.

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