When we asked those who took our 2010 Salary Survey about the biggest challenges facing the manufacturing industry today, we received a large volume of answers. As many answers fell into specific categories we have listed those below.
Increasing safety regulations and trying to make things at a low cost
The going green challenge
Poor legislation being considered (Healthcare, Card Check, etc.)
The biggest challenge facing U.S. manufacturing today is a 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.
The environmental cost burden placed on U.S. manufacturers that is not reflected in the cost of imports.
A level environmental playing field
Government intervention and denial that manufacturing is needed in this country so it can continue to be prosper and supply adequate jobs
Government intervention of Free Market principles
The U.S. is still the world's largest manufacturer. We need to treat it as such.
In the U.S., the biggest challenge is 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.
An engaged domestic workforce
Young workforce with inexperience and overambitious expectations for responsibility and salary
Finding machine shop employees
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
Removing the "that's the way we have always done it" thinking from the employees mind set
Typically U.S. employees (non-production) have few rights compared to European and Asian employees. I see American employees taking big hits to total compensation where in other countries they have more laws to prevent massive cuts.
Trying to motivate individuals -- the younger workers only want to work 8 to 5
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.
The inability to see past that 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.
Too many companies trying to get in a different part of manufacturing than they specialize in
Dealing with the rising cost of materials while keeping costs down
Keeping costs down without destroying the culture
Controlling costs while not jeopardizing quality
Breaking the current manufacturing paradigm model that ignores or accepts waste in all facets of the value stream
The lack of realization of total cost of manufacture -- including the carbon footprint - by governmental personnel when reviewing our need for Cap & Trade
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 IP to others
Obtaining the CAPEX required to improve and upgrade equipment and facilities
Leadership & Strategy
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
Competing with lower cost manufacturing alternatives from both overseas and from other transplant companies
New foreign competitors that play by a whole set of different rules
Unfair competition from China because of their inflated currency, lack of environmental regulations, and government subsidizing of their industries
Innovation resource commitment
Corporate America is viewed as corrupt and not environmentally correct, but it's okay to buy from a third world country and get a deal and mess up their environment.
- IndustryWeek's 2010 Salary Survey: Down But Not Out
- Charts and Tables: The data behind the 2010 IndustryWeek Salary Survey