NMW 2006: Greatest competitive threat is right here, study indicates


Rosemont, IL; Pittsburgh, PA — Manufacturing’s greatest competitive threat is right here in North America, a recent survey by Chromalox Inc . found. It reported that more than 60% of those responding felt that North American companies constitute their greatest competitive threat and they expected the situation to remain that way for the next 2 yr. On the average, only 34% of respondents’ revenue currently comes from outside the U.S. In its annual study of manufacturing trends, the industrial heat and control systems company analyzed the responses of 85 manufacturing engineers and engineering management, which included two-thirds from the U.S. and a third from other regions of the world.

Survey also revealed that having third-party approvals on products bought or sold is vital for tapping into European markets. Respondents also said the ability of manufacturers to customize products for a particular application was also “of the utmost importance.” Nearly 40% claimed up to 20% of the products they buy are customized.

Chromalox’ annual manufacturing trends survey found that installing improved production technology and implementing lean manufacturing techniques were the two top strategies plants used to become more competitive.

In other study results, respondents said they expect to continue to enhance their control systems with predictive maintenance and equipment diagnostic functions to help manage process or application-related information. The trend for more diagnostics and intelligent temperature control systems is expected to continue. A quarter of those surveyed this year said they had temperature control systems that included diagnostic and predictive maintenance capabilities, up from 5% last year. That number is expected to rise another 9% in the next 2 yr. In addition, 27% of those surveyed reported using some form of remote equipment monitoring technology; another 10% said they expect to add the capability between now and 2008.
More than three-fourths of the respondents expect plant production volumes to continue to increase this year. Only 17% forecast little or no change. Nearly 20% plan to improve production technology and implement lean manufacturing techniques to remain competitive. More than half expect budget increases in 2007. Nearly half plan to increase staff, but note that staffing levels are expected to rise only slightly.

Click here

to read what Control Engineering had to say about last year’s survey.

—Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jeanine Katzel, senior editor, jkatzel@reedbusiness.com

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