The Processing staff will be in New York City December 10-12 at the Chem Show at the Jacob Javits Center. Even for those especially adverse to the cold — not necessarily this editor — the allure of Christmastime in Manhattan, as so lusciously depicted in the Hollywood movies, is a powerful one.

Then there’s the Chem Show, surely an interesting one to attend this year given the swiftly changing global energy landscape. It’s said to be wreaking some amount of havoc in European and Asian markets, while fostering an industrial resuscitation here in North America. A lot of knowledgeable people with their finger on the pulse will be at the event.

At the show, Processing will have poster displays of the winners of its 2013 Breakthrough Products awards.

As last year, what was striking after reviewing both program submissions and winners was how many of the solutions presented come from mid-size companies located in the U.S. manufacturing heartlands of the east coast, the Midwest and California. Mid-size companies are often defined as those having annual revenues of less than $1 billion.  And, as a number of these companies proudly point out, they have been supplying equipment and instrumentation to the process industries for many, many decades. A few have heritages that go back to the 19th century.

These suppliers are invariably very engineering focused. They are constantly called upon to supply their solutions in novel configurations and settings, while keeping pace with a host of new computing and software developments.

In fact, we would maintain that most innovation is incremental, and is more about attention to detail than it is about having a big idea. It’s these incremental advances that move the world forward in our efforts to house, clothe and feed a world of seven billion people.

Too often, the incremental contribution these companies make to innovation and increased productivity are overlooked. Moreover, found within these companies are a good number of the myriads of individuals whose dedication and exemplary attention to detail makes the world work.

The Breakthrough Products of the Year awards recognize solutions, i.e., products, technologies and services that made significant contribution to the process industries within the last year, and are expected to impact the industry for years to come.