Technology Key To Productivity, Survey Says

A recent survey of mid-sized to large manufacturing firms in the U.S., UK, Germany, Mexico and Brazil found that when comparing 2003 to 2004, over half of manufacturers increased use of technology (U.S., 58.1%; UK, 62.3%; Germany, 58.2%; Mexico, 72.6%; Brazil, 53.3%). The survey, which was conducted in the first quarter 2004 by TBM Consulting Group, Durham, N.C., also noted that an average of 50.2% of the manufacturers queried support technology improvement as top priority to boosting productivity in 2004. Indeed, manufacturers in each nation reported productivity gains in 2003 (U.S., 51.7%; UK, 47.4%; Germany, 54.5%; Mexico, 38%; Brazil, 46.7%). In addition to identifying technology and innovation as a leading source of improved productivity (U.S., 8.8%; UK, 8.1%; Germany, 0.4%; Mexico, 12.3%; Brazil, 6.7%), respondents ranked the following among the top initiatives:

  • Continuous process improvement (lean) -- U.S., 50%; UK, 42.3%; Germany, 46.3%; Mexico, 27.3%; Brazil, 13.3%.
  • Workflow/ procedure process improvement -- U.S., 24.4%; UK, 20.7%; Germany, 16.4%; Mexico, 21.1%; Brazil, 26.7%.
  • Management leadership -- U.S., 10.9%; UK, 15.3%; Germany, 11.9%; Mexico, 10.1%; Brazil, 5.7%.
Survey participants also identified the greatest barriers to productivity as follows:
  • Resistance to change - U.S., 36.4%; UK, 27.7%; Germany, 43.3%; Mexico, 45.6%; Brazil, 40.0%.
  • Affordability/funding -- U.S., 15.0%; UK, 20.5%; Germany, 17.9%; Mexico, 7.1%; Brazil, 20.0%.
  • Lack of employee training -- U.S., 14.4%; UK, 17.9%; Germany, 9.0%; Mexico, 19.9%; Brazil, 20.0%.
"The study suggests manufacturers in all highly industrialized countries are increasingly adopting a technology-friendly approach to improving productivity," says Bill Schwartz, senior partner at TBM and managing director of TBM's LeanSigma Institute. "The inclination to increase technology and employee training suggests that the manufacturing community understands the continuous need to improve and innovate."
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