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Lessons In Resiliency & Tips For Success

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WIPFLI REPORT – Resilient Manufacturers Study Excerpts

The past two years have been both transformative and disruptive for manufacturers, and 2022 shows no signs of slowing down.

Manufacturers are still recovering from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and face challenges like:

  • Supply chain delays, shortages, and price increases
  • Skill gaps and evolving roles with the rise in automation
  • Demand/capacity challenges
  • Retaining and attracting new employees

Lesson 1: Innovate

Innovation in manufacturing can take many forms, from new technology and changes in the supply chain to product and process improvements. Innovation offers many important advantages to businesses and is often key to outperforming the competition.

Better innovation strategies and practices allow manufacturers to launch new products, avoiding delays and ensuring a steady stream of new profits efficiently and quickly. Yet a third of companies require at least a year to get new products and services to customers; only 28% can launch new offerings in less than six months. That’s one of the reasons just 13% of manufacturers generate more than 30% of annual sales from products and services released in the past 12 months.

Rigorously quantify the returns – revenue, profits, patents, brand awareness, customer retention, etc . – that your company generates from innovation activities versus leaders in your industries.

Yet, throughout these challenges, many manufacturers are finding ways to thrive and providing us all lessons in resiliency to meet the challenging times.

WIPFLI recently published a Resilient Manufacturers Study surveying 194 U.S. manufacturers to learn about their abilities to manage challenging business conditions and achieve success. The report shared offered lessons learned in 4 critical performance areas: innovation, growth, automation, and resilience.

Lesson 2: Growth

Manufacturers focused on growth need to update and expand internal capabilities – talent, technologies, process improvement methodologies – to increase revenues and margins. That is why 81% of manufacturers have dedicated growth strategies and goals or address them within other contexts. Yet 19% don’t have a plan – putting them at significant disadvantage, because growth leaders are more likely to have dedicated strategies versus other manufacturers.

A strong growth strategy identifies multiple paths toward growth. Sustainable growth also requires a steady pipeline of skilled leaders.

Identify untapped sales opportunities (e .g ., new customers in new markets, services for existing customers); quantify the resources, effort and ROI for each; and document and share plans to capture low-difficulty/high-gain opportunities via internal resources and/or partners (e.g., joint ventures, acquisitions).

Lesson 3: Automation

Manufacturing has rapidly become a world of digital haves and have-nots – and the window to catch up is closing. Why? Because automation and industry 4.0 technologies are already delivering performance boosts – two-thirds of manufacturers report that the industry 4.0 technologies have increased productivity and profitability in the past year by more than 5% — with more to come.

To optimize returns from automation and Industry 4.0, organizations need network infrastructures capable of passing manufacturing data to all who need it.

Identify large legacy equipment and systems that jeopardize production availability, prioritize automation investments based on a detailed analysis of failure likelihood and cost, and establish a technology roadmap along with plans to fund capital equipment purchases.

Lesson 4: Resiliency

Government actions to support businesses during the pandemic prevented worst-case scenarios for many organizations. According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, there still were 32,517 commercial bankruptcy filings in the U.S. in 2020 – and 22,339 more in 2021. Could some have been prevented by practices and procedures that monitor and mitigate corporate risks?

A key task in managing risk is establishment of standardized work – making it clear when practices, conditions and outcomes are abnormal. Yet, only 5% of manufacturers have standardized work and systems throughout their organizations.

Resiliency also calls for frequent reviews of conditions that could impair operations:

Suppliers: A majority of manufacturers audit primary suppliers at least biannually for performance including costs, diversity, environmental performance, and financial stability. The pandemic highlighted the impact a few critical vendors can have on an entire supply chain, prompting some manufacturers to recruit backup vendors.

Inbound and outbound shipping: Real-time tracking of supplies and products to and from facilities can alert manufacturers to problems before they escalate to customer disasters.

Cyber threats: Two-thirds of manufacturers report an unauthorized access of networks and data in the past year. 45% reported three or more breaches.

The private aviation sector experienced unparalleled demand last year due the unpredicted influence of a global pandemic. While many industries are still suffering negative repercussions, research states the private jet industry had fully recovered by August 2020. Our cover photo was taken at Heads Up Technologies in Dallas, Texas. Heads Up Technologies is a technology partner to the innovators in aviation. Their clients include Textron Aviation, Gulfstream, American Airlines and Collins Aerospace. To learn more visit https:///

To download the Resilient Manufacturers Study 2022 Research Report, visit

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