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  • 13 Takeaways From Our “Voice of the Manufacturing Manager

13 Takeaways: “Voice of the Manufacturing Manager” Report on Technology, Strategy, Hiring, and More

We recently surveyed 400 manufacturing leaders for unique industry insights. Here’s what we learned.

July 17, 2023

The manufacturing industry is rapidly changing, requiring leaders to be adaptable and strategic. Leaders who successfully navigate new technologies, higher customer demands, supply chain disruptions, and labor shifts will create business and operations that can scale, generate revenue, and create value for their customers.

So what does that look like on a daily basis? To find out, we recently surveyed 400 C-level executives, owners or partners, and senior or middle managers from a variety of manufacturing companies, for our “Voice of the Manufacturing Manager 2023” report.

Here are 13 takeaways across four major categories that will help you better understand the state of manufacturing today.

Technology and Modernization

  1. 58% of manufacturing leaders say their company is “very modern” compared to other businesses across the industry. Why? Because their companies are “heavily embracing” automation (61%), data accessibility (61%), sustainability (59%), flexibility (59%), digitization (58%), employee user experience (56%), and collaboration (55%).
  2. Manufacturing leaders say that increased productivity is the biggest benefit of modernizing their organization through automation, digitization, and sustainability. They also say that modernization has improved their efficiency and reduced costs.
  3. 55% of manufacturing leaders say they are investing in new technology. A little over half say that more than ever, they're investing in new technologies to improve their efficiency and production. Their number-one tool? Artificial Intelligence (AI)—along with data analytics, automation, and robotics.
  4. 67% of manufacturing leaders say their company embraces a data-first strategy. How? By prioritizing better ways to collect, manage, and analyze the data produced by their operations. The biggest benefit has been an improved customer experience and loyalty, likely due to the efficiencies created that may help ensure quality products get to the customer on time. Their use of data is also decreasing their time to value by making operations more streamlined, and improving sustainability management and monitoring.

Upskilling and Hiring

  1. 77% of manufacturing leaders say their company is prioritizing upskilling in order to help their employees better perform in their current role. They’re doing this through different initiatives: providing employees access to an online training platform, on-site or on-the-job training, or giving paid time off to take training courses.
  2. In addition to upskilling current employees, 60% anticipate their budget for hiring new talent will increase over the next year. So which key skills are they looking for? Communication is at the top, followed by problem-solving skills, and then technical skills.
  3. 44% of manufacturing leaders say that turnover has remained the same at their organization, while 34% say it’s actually decreased—indicating that they have the right initiatives and culture in place to retain their employees.

Priorities and Challenges

  1. Manufacturing leaders have a number of priorities, and the biggest is quality control, or prioritizing the factors that go into creating high-quality products or materials to meet their customers’ standards. Other top priorities include managing the costs of their operations and safety.
  2. Sustainability and technology are also priorities. For 63%, implementing sustainable practices and procedures are a higher priority now than ever before. The same goes for integrating innovative technology, which 61% are prioritizing more than ever before as a way to keep their organizations modern, efficient, and competitive.
  3. The manufacturing leaders we surveyed said they like working with technology the most. They also enjoy being part of building or creating something with their hands, and they also enjoy leading their teams.
  4. For manufacturing leaders, the biggest daily challenge is hitting their product targets, whether it’s due to inefficient processes, lack of new technology, or lack of labor or supplies. They are also challenged by managing diverse teams across different business units, and ensuring that work environments are safe and compliant.

Engagement and Morale

  1. 64% of manufacturing leaders say their workplace has high morale. The biggest contributor is offering employees paid time off, followed by opportunities for growth or recognition, as well as bonuses or higher pay.
  2. When asked what they do to create a better work environment for their employees, manufacturing leaders said that the biggest initiative is providing the right tools and technology to their workers, which can allow them to do their jobs faster and more efficiently. They also prioritize listening to staff, and ensuring that employee needs are being heard.

Conclusion

The manufacturing industry is rapidly changing, and leaders who want to stay competitive can look to new technologies, strategies, and initiatives to streamline their operations and keep their teams engaged. The manufacturing leaders we surveyed help to benchmark where the industry is today in terms of embracing innovations that can help improve operational efficiencies, reduce costs, and may help ensure quality products are getting to customers on time—and can help you see where you need to embrace new strategies going forward.