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Survey: Manufacturing Challenges in 2010

Posted by Bert Maes on February 19, 2010 published its 2010 Salary Survey about the biggest challenges facing the manufacturing industry today. A summary of the answers from 1,259 U.S. manufacturing managers:

Politics, Regulations & Competitive Position

  • Very unfavorable corporate income tax structure in comparison to other countries.  It is difficult to justify on-going manufacturing in the US at 32% rate VS Ireland at 12% or tax holidays in Malaysia. = Unfair competition from China because of their inflated currency, lack of environmental regulations, and government subsidizing of their industries.
  • Trying to make things at a low cost, but facing increasing safety regulations, rising costs of materials and the going green challenge and the environmental cost burden placed on U.S. manufacturers that is not reflected in the cost of imports.
  • Government denial that manufacturing is needed in this country so it can continue to be prosper and supply adequate jobs. Apathy on the part of our public leaders and a general lack of understanding by the public of the role of manufacturing in the wealth and welfare of the country. Lack of commitment to innovation and funding it.
  • Typically U.S. employees (non-production) have few rights compared to European and Asian employees. More laws needed to prevent massive cuts.

Workforce & EDUCATION

  • Finding machine shop employees and creating an engaged domestic workforce.
  • Young workforce with inexperience and overambitious expectations for responsibility and salary + Trying to motivate individuals — the younger workers only want to work 8 to 5
  • Lack of focus at the educational level; talented young people do not want to get into the field because it seems like a dying area.
  • Working with employees with lack of engineering knowledge and without a work ethic.

Business Operations

  • Moving into new technological advances with fabrication, robotics, and logistics execution based scheduling.
  • In my experience, the biggest challenge facing manufacturing in 2010 is the inability to internally recognize problems.

  • Keeping costs down without destroying the culture and without jeopardizing quality; Quality should always come before quantity.
  • The manufacturing industry has always been generally conservative – and with the downturn in the economy, the truly conservative companies are the ones who are faltering. Only the companies who invest in their technology and workforce during the downturn can survive.
  • New technology vs. old technology. Long time/older employees well versed in old technology. New employees/young employees better at new technology, but with little to no knowledge of old technology.
  • Loss of Intellectual Property to others
  • Obtaining the Capital Expenditures required to improve and upgrade equipment and facilities
  • Fighting the perception of short-term results, which leads to outsourcing
  • Lack of understanding of the cultural changes that need to happen at the Senior Leadership position

Check this chart:

Concerns of US manufacturing companies


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