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For small manufacturers, future success requires investments in strategy

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A new survey finds that while many manufacturers are operating successfully today, they are not investing enough in strategies to enable them to thrive in the future.

"Small and medium-sized manufacturers must continue to transform in order to remain competitive," said Robert Loderstedt, chief executive of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, a nonprofit that provides consulting services to manufacturers to improve their efficiency and increase revenue. He said the 2013 Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM) survey, which was also conducted in 2009 and 2011, is enabling manufacturers to "benchmark their progress toward improved performance, productivity and profitability."

The American Small Manufacturers Coalition released the results of the NGM survey, which measures manufacturers' performance in six key strategic areas necessary for world-class manufacturing.

The Manufacturing Performance Institute said manufacturers that achieve world-class status in at least two NGM strategies and maintain industry-average levels in the other four areas are in the best position for long-term survival.

"The study data identifies an enormous execution gap – the difference between the numbers of firms that recognize the importance of a particular NGM strategy, and the number that comes close to or that achieved world-class status in that strategy," said John Brandt, chief executive of MPI.

The 2013 NGM study found:

- 90 percent of manufacturers believe superior process improvement is important, but only 44 percent are near or currently at world-class status in process improvements.
- Only 37 percent have talent development programs.
- Most manufacturers have the tools, technologies and business equipment they need today, but only 11 percent describe their tools and business equipment as "state-of-the-art" and capable of providing long-term support for world-class supply-chain management.

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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