Automation / Innovation / Plant of the Year / Columns

Editor's Note: Calling all innovators

October 1, 2011
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Now is the time to begin preparing your entry for FE’s top honor, the 30th Annual Plant of the Year award.

In the past few months, I have written about the many changes that continue to occur in our industry. Funding for capital expenditures returned to normal last year, but as 2011 winds down, members of the food industry are once again tightening their budgets. According to our cover story on the State of Food Manufacturing, the budget news is not dismal, but it’s far from some of the glory years of the past decade.

Despite recent economic ups and downs and budget instability, fantastic food plants continue to be built year after year. Before 2011 winds down, you will be reading about the Sustainable Plant of the Year and the annual Fabulous Food Plant on the pages of Food Engineering.

Now is the time to begin preparing your entry for FE’s top honor, the 30th Annual Plant of the Year award. Entries are due December 1, 2011. Any food or beverage plant or project that became fully operational in 2011 is eligible to enter.

Entries will be judged according to the following criteria:

• Contribution to the company’s actual or projected long-term business plan;
• Level of innovation in processing and packaging line design;
• Building and site design innovation;
• Productive integration of workforce into the overall plan;
• On-time/on budget performance;
• Food safety innovation;
• Use of new automation and software technologies;
• Flexible manufacturing;
• Supply chain management and enterprise resource planning;
• Worker safety innovation; and
• Environmental impact.

The award is not limited to greenfield projects. Major expansions, renovations or brownfield plant projects are eligible to enter the competition. A detailed narrative of 10 pages describing the plant, based on the criteria above, is required. In addition, the facility must be available for a visit by Food Engineering staff in January or February 2012.

If you are interested in joining the ranks of past Food Plant of the Year winners such as Shearer’s Foods, Keystone Foods and Barilla America, please email me at for further information or visit to download an official entry form and view instructions and requirements for entering the competition.  I look forward to hearing about your latest innovations.

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