Great news from today: SMB Manufacturers project to grow significantly in 2013. Here on some highlights:

– Sixty-eight percent of respondents expect revenues to increase in 2013
– Eighty-seven percent of companies expect capital expenditures to grow or remain constant in 2013, with 39 percent planning to spend more than 2012 levels
– Forty-three percent of companies plan to hire more employees in 2013 and 52 percent plan to maintain current employment levels
– This is higher than the 39 percent that indicated they would be hiring in 2H2012
– The cost of raw materials is a concern and is among top cost pressures for 90 percent of manufacturers

This is great news for CATI customers, but also raises some interesting issues:

For starters, how can manufacturers grow and maintain the level of communication required to design and build high quality products? Is it a matter of re-evaluating processes related to product development and implementing mechanisms to increase visibility of project status, ECO/ECN's, and released documentation? Is it a challenge to train new shop floor personnel, providing rich content to train them on manufacturing and assembly procedures? Is it a matter of automation, creating routines to simplify repeatable design tasks?

Furthermore, consider the subject of raw material costs: are companies doing everything they can to optimize designs in order to shave weight and material out of their products? Are they running studies that consider the use of alternative, less expensive materials that may serve their needs? Can 3D Printing allow companies to prototype less or reduce the amount of metal they use for tooling (jigs, fixtures, etc)?

Finally, is it time to implement best practices rather than let legacy practices seep in to the next generation of employees?

It is an exciting time to be in our field. Jobs are coming back, and companies in the Midwest are thriving.

CATI specializes in assisting companies with many of the issues above…please reach out to us if you want to discuss further.

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