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2009 IW Best Plants Winners: Focused on Excellence

Dec. 10, 2009
World-Class Manufacturing flourishes among IndustryWeek's 2009 Best Plants Winners.

One purpose behind IndustryWeek's annual salute to manufacturing excellence is to recognize plants that are on the leading edge of efforts to increase competitiveness, enhance customer satisfaction, and create stimulating and rewarding work environments. Now in its 20th year, the 2009 IW Best Plants competition once again is demonstrating that manufacturing excellence continues to flourish across North America.

For example, at E-Z-GO in Augusta, Ga., a relentless pursuit of continuous improvement has helped this maker of golf and utility vehicles bring back in-house work that previously had been outsourced. Lean manufacturing has driven improvements in performance metrics ranging from inventory turns and first-pass yields to productivity.

Head west to Tennessee and Philips Professional Luminaires in Sparta demonstrates operational excellence in the face of changing market dynamics. The plant, which manufactures lighting fixtures, has had to rethink and retool its product, processes and customer base to remain competitive -- and has done so by drawing on the extensive expert ideas of an engaged workforce.

Two facilities -- General Cable Corp. in Altoona, Pa., and Batesville Casket Co. in Manchester, Tenn. -- are previous IW Best Plants winners. The Altoona facility earned the distinction for the first time in 2003, while Batesville followed with a win in 2004. These plants are examples of manufacturers that have met among the toughest challenges in manufacturing excellence -- continuing to achieve high levels of excellence. As anyone engaged in continuous improvement can attest, pursuing excellence is one challenge, and maintaining excellence is quite another.

These four facilities, as well as the six others that comprise IndustryWeek's 2009 class of Best Plants winners, have achieved their success by pursuing excellence on multiple fronts. They use technology wisely. They ask for and accept the wisdom of their employees. They have leaders who do the right things, not simply say the right things. They engage with their suppliers and customers to drive gains up and down the value chain. And they don't relax in their efforts to improve.

The fruits of their efforts show. For example, among the 2009 IW Best Plants winners, the median finished-product first-pass yield across all product lines is 98.4%. In the past three years, those same facilities have reduced their scrap and rework costs by a median 34%. Median on-time delivery is 97.5%, and work-in-process inventory has been driven down by some 44%.

The improvement gains of the 2009 IW Best Plants winners will continue. It is simply the way they do business. They will continue to look within their four walls and outside their four walls for ideas and lessons to further drive competitive advantage in challenging times. Within the following pages, they share ideas that may assist your facility as you pursue your own improvement efforts.

You also can read more about the 2009 winners below. These online versions contain additional Web-exclusive best practices immediately following the main stories.

How They Made the Top 10

IndustryWeek began accepting application requests for the 2009 Best Plants awards late 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 reductions, manufacturing flexibility and responsiveness, inventory management, environmental and safety performance, and market results.

Selection of the final winners from the list of 20 finalists was aided by a team of outside experts: Sherrie Ford, principal, Change Partners LLC; Robert Hall of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence; Kenneth McGuire of the Management Excellence Action Coalition; and Larry Fast, founder and 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 data and management practices reported in the applications.

2009 IW Best Plants Winners

Batesville Casket Co. Manchester, Tenn.

Carrier - Carlyle Compressor Facility
Stone Mountain, Ga.

Augusta, Ga.

General Cable Corp - Altoona Plant
Altoona, Pa.

General de Cable de Mexico del Norte S.A. de C.V.
Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico

Masco Builder Cabinet Group Culpeper Assembly Plant
Culpeper, Va.

Nordson Corp.
Dawsonville, Ga.

Philips Professional Luminaires
Sparta, Tenn.

Philips Respironics Murrysville Plant
Murrysville, Pa.

Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems Advanced Products Center
Dallas, Texas

Applications for the IW Best Plants Competition

IndustryWeek is accepting application requests for the 2010 IndustryWeek Best Plants competition. Manufacturing facilities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico are eligible. To request an application, fill out the online form on the IW Best Plants competition site

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