What Drives Manufacturing Competitiveness?
July 12, 2010
Survey Results as 07/16/2010:
The key driver in manufacturing competitiveness is:
Educated workforce/skilled labor
Cutting-edge equipment/production methods
Cost of energy/materials
Favorable tax policy and laws
It seems we have some varying opinions this week about what drives manufacturing competitiveness. Did you follow my instructions and check out the Newsweek blog after the fact and see how your answer lined up with the survey?
If you did, you would have seen that we as an industry were slightly off in our responses compared to the manufacturing community at large. In the broader survey, conducted by Council on Competitiveness and the consultants Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, the 400 participants highlighted innovation as the key driver to manufacturing competitiveness—outweighing even cheap labor.
One of the participants in our poll, Rick Jones, president and CEO of Stanek Windows, cast his vote in agreement with the survey highlighted in Newsweek. He contends that innovation encompasses many competitive drivers in manufacturing, and should therefore be the logical response. "My answer was innovation which can be in many areas of your business not just new products or equipment but engaging your organization to think out of the box," he wrote. "Sometimes OOTB means doing something the way it was done before but with better training and execution."
He highlights an example of what this approach has meant for Stanek: "We launched a new complete window line in 2009, the UltraExtreme™ that has greatly improved thermal, air, water and structural factors but the most important consumer attribute was appearance and greater glass area. The customer expects you are selling them the most current offering. The customer is often confused with all the claims made by dealers and distributors that the key remains an educated, polished salesperson that can explain the product differences and provide a value-added solution."
I would have leaned in favor of innovation, and yet cheap labor won out by several percentage points. Does it all boil down to labor costs? Email me to keep Talking...