Study Finds Threats to U.S. Manufacturing
More than 2,500 manufacturing firms across the nation participated in the Next Generation Manufacturing Study, a research effort coordinated by ASMC and member Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers. The study is the first step in a long-term effort to help U.S. manufacturers survive the recession and renew America’s manufacturing leadership over the next decade.
Next Generation Manufacturing refers to a framework of six strategies essential for global competitiveness today and in the future. The strategies are customer-focused innovation, systemic continuous improvement, advanced talent management, global engagement, extended enterprise management and sustainable products and processes. The study included a 61-question Web-based survey that asked manufacturers to rank their progress in these areas.
“The results are a wakeup call,” says Michael Klonsinski, ASMC board chair and executive director of the Wisconsin MEP. “The consequences of inaction could trigger even more job losses in manufacturing and ultimately a lower standard of living for all Americans.”
Among the key findings:
Challenges Real, Not Insurmountable
Manufacturing employs 13 million Americans and drives job growth in supporting industries such as logistics, marketing, transportation and business services. Manufactured goods represent two-thirds of U.S. exports and drive more net wealth creation than any other sector. Yet even before the recession, the nation’s manufacturers were facing intense international competition and a host of other challenges.
“The solution is not to shift away from manufacturing, but to transform our manufacturing base into a faster, more flexible industry capable of capturing global market share,” says Klonsinski. “The good news is that many manufacturers are already adopting next generation strategies and becoming stronger, more profitable firms as a result. The challenges we’re facing are real but not insurmountable.”
Business leaders, manufacturers and industry thought leaders say Next Generation Manufacturing represents a way forward for U.S. manufacturers.
“Manufacturers that focus on achieving world-class status in Next Generation Manufacturing strategies are leaving their competitors behind,” says John Brandt, chief executive officer of the Ohio-based Manufacturing Performance Institute (MPI), a global research firm that conducted the study. “They manage differently, implement best practices at far higher rates and outperform their non-world-class peers on a wide array of operational and financial metrics.”
For more information, visit www.smallmanufacturers.org.