Product quality and high service levels are the two main factors driving growth for United States manufacturers, according to a new survey conducted by IQMS, a provider of manufacturing ERP software and manufacturing execution system (MES) information. Product quality was identified as a leading measure of success by 92 percent of respondents. Meanwhile, a range of factors associated with service — including on-time delivery, short-notice production and compliance and tracking documentation — contributed to customer demand and satisfaction. The details of the survey are examined in a new IQMS white paper, which can be downloaded at here.
“We are seeing a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing as more businesses realize that they need to go beyond competitive pricing to compete in the global market,” said Gary Nemmers, IQMS CEO. “The new survey of our manufacturing customers confirms what we have been hearing anecdotally for the past year: The most successful companies are growing their businesses by delivering high-quality products quickly and reliably while demonstrating the ability to adapt rapidly to changing demands.”
Manufacturing Survey Highlights
Nearly all of the 125 manufacturers participating in the online survey produce parts for Tier 1 OE manufacturing companies or Tier 1 suppliers to OEs. One-third of the firms also develop products sold directly to businesses or through retailers. For each question, respondents were allowed to choose two answers.
Manufacturers were asked, “What defines your success in the eyes of customers?” Product quality was the No. 1 answer, selected by 92 percent of respondents. Meanwhile, the second most popular answer as on-time delivery, and the third most noted factor was having unique design, tooling and production capabilities. By contrast, low price only came in fourth.
Asked, “What drives high levels of product quality and customer service?”, 66 percent of participants said a business culture of excellence. Meanwhile two other factors — workforce skills and development, and unique design, engineering and production capabilities — were equally cited by manufacturers.
The survey also asked, “What are the key elements of your operations that support product quality?” The top factor was production monitoring, which was recognized by 67 percent of respondents. The next three important factors identified were engineering and design capabilities, process monitoring and statistical process control and effective change control and corrective actions, respectively.
In addition, survey participants were asked, “What value-added services do your customers value most?” The leading service was short-notice production capabilities, cited by 57 percent of manufacturers, while compliance and testing documentation came in a close second. Three other services were almost evenly split among participants: assembly, electronic data interchange and supply chain integrations, and detailed labeling.
“In manufacturing, we are seeing a growing recognition of ‘vendor value’ that goes beyond the physical part or device to such factors as fast delivery times, accurate documentation, efficient communications and up-to-the-moment tracking,” said Nemmers. “Our survey highlights that these capabilities serve as key differentiators for manufacturers today and represent opportunities for companies that choose to invest in these areas in the future.”