What it takes to be globally competitive in manufacturing


ManufacturingThe global landscape for competitive manufacturing is in the middle of a “massive power shift,” according to the “2013 Global Manufacturing Com- petitiveness Index” from Deloitte Touche. More than 550 CEOs and senior leaders at manufacturing companies around the world were surveyed. Among its findings:

  • Over the next five years, 20th-century manufacturing stalwarts like the US, Germany and Japan will be challenged to maintain their competitive edge against emerging nations such as China, India and Brazil.
  • The Index lists the US as the world’s third most currently competitive manufacturing nation, but ranks it fifth just five years from now (only slightly ahead of the Republic of Korea). Three other developed nations currently in the top 10 also fall in five years: Germany drops from second to fourth place, Canada slides from seventh to eighth place, and Japan drops out of the top 10 entirely, falling to 12th.
  • Germany’s slide in competitiveness holds true for several other European nations, including the UK, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland and the Czech Republic — all expected to see a dramatic fall in their ability to compete.
  • In that same five years, key emerging nations are expected to “vault forward.” Brazil jumps from its current eighth place slot to third, and India jumps from fourth to second place. China remains firmly in first place.

Even though the US is expected to slide in the Index, it’s still a powerful competitor – one that is poised to lead the technological transformation in manufacturing. “The image of manufacturing as dumb, dirty, dangerous and disappearing is far from accurate,” says Deborah L. Wince-Smith, president/CEO of the US Council on Competitiveness,. “Today, US manufacturing remains at the technological forefront; it has become smart, safe and sustainable – and this powerful brand of domestic manufacturing is surging nationwide.”

Top 10 drivers of competitiveness
How can you help your own company become a leader in manufacturing? Check out this top 10 list from the Index, ranked in importance.

  1. Talent-driven innovation
  2. Economic, trade, financial and tax system
  3. Cost and availability of labor and material
  4. Supplier network
  5. Legal and regulatory system
  6. Physical infrastructure
  7. Energy cost and policies
  8. Local market attractiveness
  9. Healthcare system
  10. Government investments in manufacturing

My Thoughts: While the above list is what makes a nation’s manufacturing more competitive, there are plenty of things you can apply from this list to your converting and/or packaging manufacturing business. First off, hire the best talent you can and make their opportunities to innovate your No. 1 priority. Develop a strategic network of suppliers for everything from raw materials to finished-goods delivery. Keep your plant and its operational support in the best working condition. Find ways to cut energy costs. Offer employees the best healthcare options you can (that will help you attract the best talent, too), and take advantage of any and all government investments in manufacturing, if appropriate.

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