Census Of Manufacturers -- What's Working For U.S. Manufacturers

Census Of Manufacturers -- What's Working For U.S. Manufacturers

The latest Census of Manufacturers reveals that lean is still the most popular improvement method.

The state of U.S. manufacturing in 2006 can be summed up as simply this: leaner and meaner. Based on the results of the 2006 IW/MPI Census of Manufacturers, lean manufacturing has significantly increased in popularity over the past year. In 2006, 40.5% of all manufacturers surveyed have adopted lean as their primary improvement method, a jump of nearly 5% from the 35.7% reported last year. That explains the "leaner" part.

The "meaner" part, admittedly, is open to interpretation, but compared with last year's responses, the focus of U.S. manufacturing has shifted slightly from several typical customer-focused areas. "High quality," "service and support" and "fast delivery" all saw a decline in their numbers from the previous year, indicating if nothing else that other concerns (such as "innovation") are occupying an increasing amount of attention from companies.

While the choice of improvement methods and strategic initiatives fluctuated in numerous ways over the past year, it all added up to a healthy advance toward world-class status. The percentage of companies indicating they have either made "significant progress" toward or have "fully achieved" world-class status jumped from 23.6% in 2005 to 26.1% in 2006. Looking at it another way, the number of companies who say they've made "no progress" on the road to world-class dropped from 23.9% last year to 19.6% this year.

We'll be looking at specific metrics and the impact of various efforts on manufacturing performance in special Census reports in the coming months. Stay tuned.


The IW/MPI Census of Manufacturers was conducted in late spring/early summer 2006. We asked more than 100 questions of manufacturers across the United States. There were 801 respondents (415 online and 386 by mail), and all responses were anonymous.

About MPI

The Manufacturing Performance Institute (MPI) is a Cleveland-based research organization specializing in research development, analysis and communications. Details on how to obtain the complete 2006 IW/MPI Benchmarking Toolkit are available at www.mpi-group.net.

Selected Data

Primary Improvement Method 2006 2005
Lean Manufacturing 40.5% 35.7%
Total Quality Management 9.9% 15.9%
Lean and Six Sigma 12.4% 8.0%
Other 5.2% 7.0%
Agile Manufacturing 3.8% 4.4%
Theory of Constraints 3.0% 4.0%
Six Sigma 3.1% 1.5%
Toyota Production System 3.1% 1.5%
None 19.1% 21.9%

Progress Toward World Class Status 2006 2005
Fully Achieved 1.4% 2.0%
Significant Progress 24.7% 21.6%
Some Progress 54.3% 52.4%
No Progress 19.6% 23.9%

Focus Of Market Strategy
(multiple responses possible)
2006 2005
High Quality 70.1% 71.8%
Service And Support 54.3% 56.4%
Total Value 40.3% 39.0%
Fast Delivery 32.3% 35.3%
Customization 28.9% 32.4%
Low Cost 27.1% 26.5%
Innovation 24.9% 21.6%
Product Variety 16.2% 14.1%
None Of These 0.3% 0.2%

Strategic Practices
(multiple responses possible)
2006 2005
Continuous-Improvement Program 72.9% 66.5%
Quality Certification (e.g. ISO) 50.6% 45.4%
Customer Satisfaction Surveys 45.9% 45.1%
Benchmarking 35.2% 34.6%
Environmental Management 32.4% 25.3%
Total Production Maintenance 24.5% 21.7%
Energy Management 23.4% 16.1%
Open-Book Management 18.3% 15.0%
None Of These 10.3% 13.6%

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