IndustryWeek's Best Plants program began in 1990, the brainchild of an IW editor who believed there were manufacturing plants across North America that deserve recognition for the amazing work going on in their facilities.
IndustryWeek still believes amazing work is going on in manufacturing facilities across North America. For the 23rd consecutive year, IndustryWeek is pleased to present its annual salute to manufacturing excellence. The 2012 class of IndustryWeek's Best Plants winners demonstrates that operational excellence continues to prosper in manufacturing -- and manufacturers continue to strive for even greater performances.
The 2012 IW Best Plants winners reflect the diverse nature of manufacturing. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control assembles and tests missiles and weapons systems at its Pike County Operations in Troy, Ala. La-Z-Boy, by contrast, builds residential furniture in neighboring Tennessee, and in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, Ethicon manufactures a range of medical supplies. Warren Rupp, meanwhile, makes air-operated diaphragm pumps from its factory in Mansfield, Ohio.
2012 IW Best Plants WinnersCNH Wichita Product CenterWichita, Kan.Ethicon LLCSan Lorenzo, Puerto RicoLa-Z-Boy TennesseeDayton, Tenn.Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Pike County OperationsTroy, Ala.Warren Rupp Inc.Mansfield, Ohio
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The 2012 winners also illustrate the Midwest's continuing role as a center for manufacturing. Two of IndustryWeek's Best Plants winners call Ohio home. In addition to Warren Rupp, there is Harris Products Group, a Lincoln Electric Co. It produces brazing and soldering consumables in the southern end of the state. Rounding out the list of 2012 winners is CNH Wichita Product Center, which builds skid steer loaders and compact track loaders in Kansas' largest city for delivery around the world.
Yet these diverse manufacturing facilities have much in common. They don't simply do things right -- they do the right things. They develop leaders who inspire action; they engage the entire workforce as talented and knowledgeable contributors to operational excellence; they reward achievement; and they embrace both suppliers and customers as valued partners in performance. Moreover, they recognize the value of the appropriate production and information technologies. They are good stewards in their communities.
Never to be overlooked, they achieve amazing performances, such as the 100% on-time delivery of Lockheed Martin's Pike County Operations. And Harris Products Group's 80% reduction in scrap since 2009. And Ethicon's 98.1% first-pass yield. Equally important, IndustryWeek's 2012 Best Plants winners recognize that operational excellence is a moving target, not something that once achieved, is conquered.
In the following pages and online, IndustryWeek shares the stories of the 2012 IW Best Plants winners. Let their efforts inspire your next improvement. Embrace their bedrock belief that "we can do better," and act on the belief. Do what the 2012 IW Best Plants winners do and recognize competition for what it is, a challenge to be met. Then visit the IW Best Plants Resource Library at www.industryweek.com/resources/best-plants and dive deeply into the full complement of continuous improvement resources graciously shared by IW Best Plants winners past and present.
HOW THE WINNERS WERE SELECTED
IndustryWeek began accepting application requests for the 2012 Best Plants awards early last year. A panel of IW editors reviewed the completed applications, which reported management practices and plant performance in such areas as quality, customer and supplier relations, employee involvement, productivity, cost containment, manufacturing flexibility and responsiveness, inventory management, environmental and safety performance, and market results.
Selection of the winners from a list of finalists was aided by a team of outside experts: Robert Hall, a founding member of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence and a member of IndustryWeek's Hall of Fame, Class of 2012; Kenneth J. McGuire of the Management Excellence Action Coalition; and Larry Fast, president of Pathways to Manufacturing Excellence. Their evaluations, along with additional information provided by the finalists, were considered in the final stage of judging. The selections did not become final until site visits by IW editors to validate the performance data and management practices reported in the applications.