National Manufacturing Study Reveals New Trends, Steps for Success

Dépèche transmise le 19 octobre 2011 par Business Wire

MADISON, Wis.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, along with its trade association, the American Small Manufacturers Coalition, released the results of its 2011 Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM) Study, identifying key trends affecting the industry and steps U.S. manufacturers can take now to be successful in the next generation.

“Next Generation Manufacturing programs led by WMEP have produced results from every department throughout the organization”

The study, conducted by the Manufacturing Performance Institute, finds that this is a critical point in time for U.S. manufacturing, and manufacturers must assess whether they have the workforce, business systems, equipment and strategies in place to successfully compete in the future. While external factors, like the economic downturn present challenges, manufacturers can remain competitive by focusing on six strategies assessed by the NGM Study as a blueprint for success (see sidebar).

Specifically, the study found:

  • Nearly six out of 10 U.S. manufacturers could have a new leader in the next five years — a five percent increase over 2009. This presents an opportunity for manufacturers to solidify leadership and direction for years to come if they develop their next generation of leaders now.
  • Sustainability is increasingly important to manufacturers, with 59.2 percent of manufacturers reporting that sustainability is important or highly important to their future, up from 35.1 percent in 2009. Many of these manufacturers are responding to customer demands for greener products, while others recognize cost-control opportunities such as reduced energy consumption and the re-use of materials.
  • Most manufacturers have systems and equipment in place to support the current requirements of the six NGM strategies, but few describe their equipment as “state-of-the art.” For example, only 18 percent have state-of-the-art equipment to support world-class innovation, and just 14 percent have state-of-the-art equipment to support world-class process improvements.
  • Few manufacturers have both talent and workforce development programs to drive world-class performance. Due to an aging workforce and gap in skilled labor, more professional training and development is needed to prepare manufacturers for the next generation.
  • Small companies need assistance in implementing NGM strategies. Smaller manufacturers are less likely than larger companies to be at or near world-class performance in the six NGM strategies, and are less likely to have best practices in place.

“Wisconsin developed the NGM concept and continues to identify new opportunities to help manufacturers in our state,” says WMEP Executive Director Buckley Brinkman. “We believe the six key NGM elements define the areas critical for success, and this study shows how our manufacturers can improve in the future. The WMEP looks forward to helping Wisconsin keep its lead in American manufacturing.”

“Next Generation Manufacturing programs led by WMEP have produced results from every department throughout the organization,” said Mary Isbister, president of GenMet Corporation, a metal fabricator based in Mequon. The company initially focused on one specific strategy – Superior Processes/Systemic Continuous Improvement – to drive a lean transformation, the results of which surpassed expectations. Isbister describes some of the quantifiable returns: “We went from an average of 9-12 inventory turns per year to 33 turns. We cut lead-times on most of our products in half and we reduced our finished goods inventory by 90%. Today, we carry essentially zero finished goods inventory.” Isbister attributes these results directly to GenMet’s Lean Transformation which she says took approximately four years to be fully integrated.

Isbister adds that commitment to Next Generation Manufacturing requires full buy-in from all employees. “These strategies are now part of the GenMet culture.” Leveraging its success in systemic continuous improvement is now driving the company to focus on the next improvement project - Six Sigma, as well as work in the areas of Profitable Sustainability and Global Engagement exporting.

The study, first conducted in 2009, surveyed more than 800 U.S. manufacturers. More information can be found at www.smallmanufacturers.org/2011NGMStudy.

The Six Next Generation Strategies

  • Customer-focused innovation: Develop, make, and market new products and services that meet customers’ needs at a pace faster than the competition.
  • Engaged people/human capital acquisition, development and retention: Secure a competitive performance advantage by having superior systems in place to recruit, hire, develop, and retain talent.
  • Superior processes/improvement focus: Record annual productivity and quality gains that exceed the competition through a companywide commitment to continuous improvement.
  • Supply-chain management and collaboration: Develop and manage supply chains and partnerships that provide flexibility, response time, and delivery performance that exceeds the competition.
  • Sustainability: Design and implement waste and energy-use reductions at a level that provides superior cost performance and recognizable customer value.
  • Global engagement: Secure business advantages by having people, partnerships, and systems in place capable of engaging global markets

About WMEP

WMEP is a private, nonprofit organization committed to the growth and success of Wisconsin manufacturers. Since 1998, WMEP has helped to generate $1.7 billion in economic impact and create and save 14,000 state manufacturing jobs, according to results documented by customers. WMEP receives financial support from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce and the NIST Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership. WMEP also partners with many public and private organizations to serve Wisconsin manufacturers. For more information, visit www.wmep.org.

About American Small Manufacturers Coalition

The American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC) is a trade association of manufacturing extension agents whom work to improve the innovation and productivity of America’s manufacturing community. ASMC advocates for legislative and programmatic resources that allow its small manufacturing clients to better compete in the global marketplace. For more information, visit www.smallmanufacturers.org/.

Business Wire

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