Joyce Fassl
Is it the need to be first, the drive toward innovation or just the way we now do business in the 21st Century that causes food and beverage manufacturers to continue to work at breakneck speed? As we all know too well, to be top dog in this industry you must do a lot more than make good products and get them out the door.

Over the past four to five years, the trends that drive food and beverage manufacturing have not changed much-the need for increased automation, an emphasis on food safety, scrutiny on plant security and the repercussions from the low-carb diet. But all of these factors have a recurring, underlying theme: operations', engineering's and manufacturing's reaction time to stay ahead of the trends must be swift.

Each summer, Food Engineering (FE) presents its Replacement Parts Guide. And even in the rather unglamorous world of spare parts, the need for speed is a top priority. In this issue, FE readers tell us that getting parts delivered promptly to the plant is equally as important as the quality of parts themselves.

More than half of those surveyed earlier this year by Food Engineering place spare parts orders over the Internet. An additional 10 percent of those surveyed intend to purchase parts on the web in the next six months. One of the largest increases in Internet usage for ordering spare parts involves distributors' websites. When FE conducted its first Replacement Parts Survey in 2002, only 14 percent of food and beverage manufacturers reported using distributors' websites to order parts. Today, that number has doubled to 28 percent.

While I am sure we still have Internet doubters among our readership today (34 percent do not use the net for ordering parts), I am certain that the need for rapid spare parts delivery drives this 50 percent jump in Internet usage.

So while summer may be a time of slow, easy living for some, food and beverage leaders can't take a break. In order to stay ahead of the curve, they must grab for any advantage-even if that advantage comes from a smart replacement parts strategy.

Food Engineering Editorial Advisory Board

David Watson
Vice President, Engineering
Pepperidge Farm, Inc.

Kevin Mellor
Director, Processing Center of Excellence

John Eberle
Innovation Group Manager

Dave Plinski
Director, Dairy Foods Eningeering
Land O' Lakes

Dave Gemellaro
Director, Sector Engineering
Kraft Foods

Peter Migchels
Director of Engineering, Fresh Bakeries
Maple Leaf Foods

Tom Wolters
Senior Manager Technology
Pepsico Beverages & Food

Carl Krueger
Senior Manager, Global Engineering Services
H.J. Heinz