Innovation / Plant of the Year

Editor's Note: On the hunt for game-changing technologies

This month’s cover story focuses on Food Engineering’s annual State of Food Manufacturing Survey results and the great strides our industry has taken in the past year to operate more efficiently by combining the best of human assets and capital equipment and by implementing game-changing technologies. As the cover story states, our industry has never been interested in maintaining the status quo.
Each fall, Food Engineering issues its call for entries for the Plant of the Year Award. Recent winners have been notably aggressive with game-changing technology. For example, the 2012 winner, Northeast Foods–Automatic Rolls of NC, implemented  a novel, state-of-the-art baking pan orientation/gantry system with an interconnected AS/AR system. The 2011 winner, Shearer’s Foods, achieved LEED Platinum certification, and its corn cooking and transfer system saves 1.7 billion BTUs per year in gas consumption. 
Please note that the Food Plant of the Year Award is not limited to greenfield projects. Companies with major expansions, renovations or brownfield plant projects can and should enter the competition. 
Entries are 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 (creative, new technology or creative use of existing technology); 
  • 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; 
  • Worker safety innovation; and 
  • Environmental impact. 
A detailed narrative of at least 10 pages describing the plant, based on the criteria above, is required. High-quality, clearly captioned photographs of the plant’s processing and packaging lines must also accompany the entry. 
The facility must be available for a visit by Food Engineering staff in January or February 2013. Any finished food or beverage company, or design, architectural, engineering or consulting firm, as well as a major supplier to the plant, is eligible to submit an entry.
If you are interested in joining the ranks of past Food Plant of the Year winners such as Keystone Foods, Pepperidge Farm and Frito-Lay, please visit to download the entry form and view complete instructions and requirements for entering the competition. All entries must be received by December 3, 2012.
We look forward to receiving your entries and learning about your game-changing technologies. 

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