Study reveals opportunities for U.S. manufacturers to excel

October 10, 2013

The American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC), Torrance, Calif., has released a summary of its results from the 2013 Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM) study. The study measures manufacturers’ readiness, support systems and resources, and performances in six key strategic areas necessary for world-class manufacturing and future success: customer-focused innovation, superior processes/improvement focus, human capital management, supply chain management and collaboration, sustainability, and global engagement.

The Manufacturing Performance Institute (MPI), part of The MPI Group, conducted the research based on recent survey responses of manufacturing executives. The current data shows that manufacturing organizations that achieve world-class status in at least two of the NGM strategies and maintain industry-average levels in the other four areas are in the best position for long-term survival. However, the 2013 data finds that most of these manufacturers — successful as they are today — aren't investing in the strategies that will carry their firms into tomorrow.

"The study data identifies an enormous execution gap — the difference between the numbers of firms that recognize the importance of a particular NGM strategy, and the number that comes close to or that achieved world-class status in that strategy," said John Brandt, founder and CEO of MPI.

For example, the study found that 90 percent of manufacturers believe superior process improvement is important, whereas only 44 percent of those manufacturers are near or currently at world-class status in process improvements.

While human capital management is an issue, NGM data suggests few manufacturers are taking initiative to address talent shortages: 69 percent of manufacturing executives have the leadership and talent to drive world-class, customer-focused innovation, but only 37 percent have talent development programs to support it.

Most manufacturers have the tools, technologies, and business equipment they need today, but those tools won’t meet the needs of the future. Only 11 percent of manufacturers describe their tools and business equipment as capable of providing long-term support for world-class supply chain management.

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