ASQ survey: Manufacturers optimistic about economic uptick in 2011

American Society for Quality
Tags: manufacturing, lean manufacturing, business management

The second annual ASQ Manufacturing Outlook Survey shows a vast majority of manufacturers are optimistic about an economic uptick in 2011 at their organizations. The survey conducted by the American Society for Quality – the world’s largest network of quality resources and experts – states 68 percent of respondents employed in the manufacturing sector predict their organizations will experience revenue growth. This is a bit of a brighter outlook than for 2010.

Despite the economic landscape, a year ago, 64.7 percent of respondents predicted that revenue would grow in 2010. This year, when asked if their organization did experience revenue growth in 2010, 67 percent indicated “yes.” More than 1,200 manufacturing professionals from the United States and Canada responded to the online survey October 24 – November 5, 2010.

The two areas from the survey that showed the most promise were in the area of payroll and operational budgets:

  • Only 18 percent expect a pay freeze in 2011 – compared to 44.8 percent in 2010 at their organizations
  • 18 percent predict mandatory budget cuts in 2011 – whereas 35.2 percent did in 2010

Of the other 2011 organizational options offered, respondents anticipate:

  • Expectations of a salary/merit increase (48 percent)
  • Organizations will continue to create processes to reduce costs (47 percent), down from 61.3 percent in 2010
  • Maintaining current staff levels at their organizations (42 percent)
  • Hiring of additional staff (42 percent)
  • No mandatory furlough days (73 percent); in 2010, 72 percent indicated they did not have to take furlough days

Cutbacks and Quality
As many organizations had to make sacrifices to survive a down economy, the survey inquired whether staff reductions or other cutbacks implemented in 2010 negatively impacted the quality of the products/services delivered. 33 percent of respondents believed that the quality of their products/services was negatively impacted. 32 percent believed that the quality did not suffer.

Manufacturers Offer Advice
Respondents were also asked what one tip they would give to manufacturers to ensure revenue growth in 2011. The top four tips, similar to the 2010 outlook, from respondents were:

  • Continue to take part in continuous improvement practices, and increase use of quality processes
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Implement more lean processes
  • Reduce costs/eliminate waste

“Though it appears the manufacturing sector is still facing some challenges on the road to full economic recovery, the incremental gains shown in this survey are very promising,” said ASQ chair Peter Andres. “However, organizations still need to focus on and increase customer satisfaction, and implement continuous improvement practices to remain competitive.”

About ASQ
ASQ is a global community of people dedicated to quality who share the ideas and tools that make our world work better. With millions of individual and organizational members of the community in 150 countries, ASQ has the reputation and reach to bring together the diverse quality champions who are transforming the world’s corporations, organizations, and communities to meet tomorrow’s critical challenges. ASQ is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., with national service centers in China, India, and Mexico. Learn more about ASQ’s members, mission, technologies and training at www.asq.org.