Manufacturing is experiencing a massive transformation in technology, workforce and global interconnectedness. The Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) asked senior industry executives to assess how disruptive megatrends impacted their businesses in 2015.
"The manufacturing world is being shaped by several new forces—IoT capabilities, the understanding of total cost of ownership, and the work–life balance expectations of millennial employees—and how companies respond will define their success," said Jenn Callaway, MAPI's director of councils and business research. "Recognizing the impacts these forces are already having on manufacturing companies, we wanted to better understand which hindered businesses the most last year and which trends may offer more opportunity than risk."
Here are highlights of the research report.
While 64% of senior manufacturing leaders told MAPI the skills gap was having a negative impact on their businesses, 100% of middle managers report that is the case. Nearly half (46%) of CEOs and presidents said their firms were being hurt by baby boomer retirements while 34% reported a negative impact from the work-life expectations of millennials. Some 81 manufacturers responded to the MAPI survey.
Nearly half (45%) of U.S. manufacturing revenue is generated overseas. Little wonder, then, that 86% of senior leaders in manufacturing cite a negative impact from global economic uncertainty. It's not much better at home, as 75% point to problems from U.S. economic uncertainty. Three-quarters of MAPI's respondents also said the strong U.S. dollar was a problem.
Because of "unparalleled access to information on pricing and profitability," MAPI notes, customer have "never been better informed on the total cost of ownership." Some 75% of senior manufacturing leaders said understanding TCO had a positive impact on their businesses in 2015.
Manufacturing leaders complain that regulations are making it increasingly difficult to succeed globally. Some 64% of senior executives said U.S. tax policy was negatively impacting their businesses. Close behind was the Affordable Care Act (60%) while 43% said proposed environmental regulations would be harmful to their companies.
Manufacturing leaders told MAPI they were overwhelmingly positive about the benefits of automation (84%), robotics (75%) and remote monitoring with IoT devices (75%). But a small minority of manufacturers are concerned about security risks associated with cloud computing (11%) and employee use of connected devices (10%).
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