In reading Paul Borawski’s Blog, as well as the results from the annual ASQ Outlook Survey, manufacturers anticipate growth in 2014, albeit down somewhat from 2012 and 2013 results. With revenue increases on the radar screen, that forecast isn’t necessarily being translated into investment in smart manufacturing to drive further growth and expansion. Why?
“Despite the percentage of manufacturers expecting increased revenues in 2014, 46 percent of the respondents say the economy continues to be the biggest hurdle to operations, while 18 percent said the shortage of skilled workers is the biggest challenge they foresee in 2014.
Other hurdles identified include, “global competition,” “lack of new products,” “government sequestration” and “lack of leadership.”
Yikes!!!! That statement just about covers all the bases involved in running a business.
This mindset hedges everyone’s bets, in the event that forecasting doesn’t match up with the reality of doing business in 2014. More than that, these reactions imply that the manufacturers responding to this survey (n >700) are searching for reasons to hunker right back down into the status quo, rather than introducing innovation and Change (yes, I just wrote the C-word) into their company culture in 2014. If they are resistant to smart manufacturing, what other concepts might they also be resisting?
Are you observing the same behavior, and resistance to smart manufacturing and other initiatives, within your own organizations?
Smart manufacturing is “the integration of network-based data and information that provides real-time understanding, reasoning, planning, management and related decision making of all aspects of a manufacturing and supply chain enterprise.”
You can’t move forward unless you understand what is holding you back. What is the greatest impediment to forward progress and windshield vision, instead of a rear-view mirror, hindsight perspective?
“The results show that 37% of those surveyed have no interest in smart manufacturing, while 29% percent say cost is the biggest challenge. In addition, 14 percent say resistance from management is the biggest hurdle when considering a smart manufacturing system.”
With the growth of Big Data and Cloud Computing Solutions within SaaS, Platform and Enterprise solutions, I expected rousing thumbs up as a response. Not so. Only a small percentage of survey respondents currently use smart manufacturing. In fact, only 13% of those surveyed utilize smart manufacturing. Why?
“Of the manufacturers that have not implemented smart manufacturing, interest, cost and resistance from management continue to stifle deployment, according to the survey.”
This statement implies that smart manufacturing isn’t seen as providing competitive advantage and ROI – by the C-Suite. This statement makes me wonder whether smart manufacturing initiatives are mostly driven from the plant floor and middle management, upward through the organization. This statement creates a mental image of the C-Suite skeptically circling their wagons and maintaining the status quo.
The survey continues with a discussion about downsizing trends (15%), upsizing trends (35%) and maintaining the status quo levels of staffing (35%). However, nearly half of the respondents surveyed expect salary increases.
I don’t know about you, but something isn’t adding up here. Literally. As a result of manufacturing growth, employees anticipate receiving salary increases. How sustainable is manufacturing growth if, in addition to salary increases, it is not directed towards potential manufacturing advances which, when leveraged, can make a company more competitive?
Quality tools are correlated with providing a “systematic and reliable approach for manufacturers to increase customer loyalty, improve operational efficiencies and reduce defects that help increase market share and economic prosperity.”
Within the framework of the status quo?
- What if a percentage of profits allocated to salary increases were directed towards growth initiatives that included smart manufacturing, for starters?
- What do you think the 2014 survey results would look like?
- What would the impact be within your own organization?
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She works with non-traditional sellers, engineers, manufacturers, and technical startups. Her book on sales and engineering collaboration strategies, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.