The Q3 2022 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, published by the National Association of Manufacturers has recently hit desks. And while the top level results will probably surprise nobody connected with the sector, the data provides an emphatic reminder of the pressures being faced by US manufacturing companies – and the need for them to find ways to increase efficiency to mitigate the impact of ongoing headwinds.
Supply chain challenges, the ability to attract and retain a quality workforce, and the increased cost of raw materials loom large as the three most urgent challenges facing the US manufacturing sector. Over three quarters of respondents cited each of these three factors as a leading challenge.
A clear majority of respondents don’t expect supply chain issues to abate before next year, with almost 40 per cent predicting no improvement before second half of 2023 at the earliest.
The implication of these numbers is clear: Manufacturers must ensure the raw materials and inputs they are able to access are not lost to scrap as a result of errors in critical processes. When there’s less to use, everything must be made to count.
This means, in turn, that the ways in which critical processes are taught, demonstrated, and learned has to be absolutely faultless. Our own research shows that US manufacturers suffer serious consequences when their ability to transfer knowledge effectively and efficiently is compromised.
Data from our Product Communication 2022 report shows that 70 per cent of manufacturers have experienced delays and errors affecting their products in the past two years as a result of documentation that was out of date, inaccurate or unclear, or behind deadline.
Moreover, we know from conversations with our own customers that errors such as these are highly demoralizing for team members. Staff who make mistakes – even when the documentation rather than the person is at fault – are less happy in their jobs and more inclined to quit.
Robust processes affect not just company performance but individual performance, and at a time when finding and retaining the best talent is the second biggest challenge facing manufacturers, you don’t want a demoralized team.
It may well be the case that these challenges will be with us for many months to come. Manufacturers must find the quickest, easiest ways to protect themselves against the damage they threaten.