CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - September 30, 2009) - ASSEMBLY magazine, a trade publication for manufacturers, and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), one of the world's leading management consulting firms, today named Batesville Casket Company the 2009 winner of their "Assembly Plant of the Year" award. The award spotlights a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the United States that has applied world-class processes to reduce production costs, increase productivity, shorten time to market, and improve product quality.

Headquartered in Batesville, Indiana, Batesville Casket is a leading manufacturer of metal and hardwood burial caskets, cremation urns and containers, and related support services. As the core operating company of Hillenbrand, Inc. (fiscal 2008 revenues of $678 million), it employs about 3,300 people at manufacturing, sales, and distribution facilities throughout North America.

Batesville won Assembly Plant of the Year for its application of lean manufacturing techniques at its Manchester, Tennessee facility. Since going lean 14 years ago, the facility has reduced costs per unit by almost 25 percent and cut the amount of floor space needed at its 450,000-square-foot plant by more than 50 percent, creating room for new initiatives without having to fund costly expansions. The plant's vertically integrated operations produce 98 percent of the 224 parts needed to assemble a typical casket. All metal stamping, plastic injection molding, fabrication, and painting are done in-house.

Batesville Casket has won numerous awards for manufacturing excellence in recent years, including the Progressive Manufacturing Award from Managing Automation magazine, IndustryWeek's Best Plants award (Top 10 in North America), regional Manufacturing Excellence Awards from the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME), and the National AME Award as the number one plant in North America.

"At a time when many U.S.-based companies have moved their manufacturing operations overseas to lower costs, Batesville is an excellent example of how a commitment to lean production can keep costs competitive," said Austin Weber, senior editor of ASSEMBLY.

"We are very impressed by the results that Batesville has been able to achieve in all dimensions of its operations," added Michael Zinser, a partner in BCG's Chicago office and coleader of the firm's manufacturing topic area. "Many businesses have adopted lean tools and principles, but few have been able to generate the consistent improvements in cost, quality, and delivery that Batesville has."

This is the sixth annual Assembly Plant of the Year award. The previous five recipients of the award were IBM in Poughkeepsie, New York (2008); Square D/Schneider Electric in Lexington, Kentucky (2007); Lear Corporation in Montgomery, Alabama (2006); Xerox Corporation in Webster, New York (2005); and Paccar Inc./Kenworth Truck Company in Renton, Washington (2004). The award is jointly sponsored by ASSEMBLY and BCG to recognize the strengths of U.S. plants and bring attention to the ongoing competitiveness of those that demonstrate manufacturing excellence. Only one assembly plant is recognized per year.

For further information on the award, please contact ASSEMBLY's Austin Weber at +1 630 694 4013 or The nomination form for the award is available at


ASSEMBLY ( is a monthly trade magazine that has been published since 1958. It is read by plant managers, manufacturing engineers, and design engineers in a wide variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, appliances, consumer goods, electronics, industrial machinery, medical devices, and telecommunications. ASSEMBLY covers the systems, equipment, tools, and materials used by OEMs and contract manufacturers to assemble discrete parts into finished products, including manual and automated production processes. ASSEMBLY is published by BNP Media.

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