Our 2009 Plants of the Year recipients take on-demand package manufacturing and smooth synchronization to a whole new level.

Packaging operations must be efficient, productive and sustainable-goals that can be reached in myriad ways. Each year in our Plants of the Year articles, we share some ideas that are already in practice. Here’s the line up this year:

AtDannon’sMinster, Ohio, plant, in-house thermoforming, a through-the-wall arrangement with the bottle supplier and other equipment investments help assure high-quality, on-demand and sustainable operations.

ForHP Hood, the high output of its Winchester, Va., facility requires smooth synchronization of all the pieces in the operation-from start (in-house bottle blow-molding) to finish (an efficient warehouse management system).

These examples show how proven packaging processes can positively impact profits.

May your transfers be smooth and your throughput high.

Web Exclusives: How to automatically handle unique packages

Marketing designs a really cool new package that’s going to pop on shelf and score well with consumers. And it’s your job to get it to run efficiently on an automated packaging line. OK. How?

Engineers in packaging operations continue to be as creative on the production side as marketers are on the design side. Here’s proof:

Brown & Haleyin Tacoma, Wash., modified its existing carton former to handle an innovative reclosable carton for its new Roca Toffee and Truffle Thins product line. Suppliers involved include Adco Manufacturing and Emerald City Graphics.

Sunnyside Farms Dairyin Turlock, Calif., used creative engineering to automate the packaging of a unique new product for foodservice distribution. Suppliers involved include Del Packaging Ltd., Delkor Systems Inc., Fanuc Robotics America, Huhtamaki, Oystar USA, Quatred LLC and Serpa Packaging Solutions.

Read these articles online. Click on“Engineers produce unique candy carton”and“Sunnyside Farms isn’t sour on success.”