Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM) Study Reveals Opportunities for Illinois Manufacturers

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IMEC to Assist Companies Achieve Positive Impact for Long-term Strategic Goals

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The specific skills and focuses assessed by this study provide the perfect guide for manufacturers to develop a strategic plan that will guide their firm for years to come.

The Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC), on behalf of the American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC) and the Manufacturing Performance Institute (MPI), recently released the full results of its 2013 Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM) study.

The 2013 Study identifies manufacturing practices and performances, while providing benchmarking information for U.S. Manufacturers in the 21st century. The NGM study identifies six key strategies which a manufacturer must attain to be considered world class. Importantly, comparing 2013 results to the 2011 and prior studies identifies trends, including the following:

Human Capital Acquisition is a top priority – Nearly 85% of manufacturers considered talent acquisition and retention to be a top priority in 2013, compared to 78% in 2011. However, this also showed a decrease in respondents at or near world-class status.

Process Improvement is increasing in importance – 9 out of 10 manufacturers recognize the need for process improvement and 44% are at or near world-class status.

Inventories are growing – Down considerably from 2011 and 2009 (51% and 47%, respectively), fewer and fewer manufacturers (36%) are reporting decreases of 10% or more in their inventories.

Employee Turnover is up – In 2013, nearly 40% of manufacturers experienced annual turnover rates of over 5.1%, compared to in 2011.

Sustainability decreasing in importance - A surprising change, sustainability in the manufacturing process declined in importance, from 59% to 55%.

Few manufacturers have both talent and workforce development – These programs to drive world-class performance. Due to an aging workforce and gap in skilled labor, more professional training and development is needed to prepare manufacturers for the next generation.

Small manufacturers lag in implementing NGM Strategies - Smaller manufacturers are less likely than larger companies to be at or near world-class performance in the six NGM strategies, and are less likely to have best practices in place.

David Boulay, President of the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center, says, “The specific skills and focuses assessed by this study provide the perfect guide for manufacturers to develop a strategic plan that will guide their firm for years to come. By providing this insight, small and medium-size manufacturers can prioritize their goals in order to overcome challenges and contribute to long-term national economic growth.”

Many U.S. manufacturers seek assistance from industry associations, state manufacturing associations, or consulting firms for assistance with such things as Regulatory or Compliance issues, Workforce Development, Operations Improvement, or Strategic Planning. Furthermore, a majority of these manufacturers believe that State Manufacturing Associations and Manufacturing Extension Partnership centers such as IMEC have provided a positive impact on their long-term strategic goals.

Originally conducted in 2009, the 2013 Next Generation Manufacturing Survey is brought to you by the American Small Manufacturers Coalition and the Manufacturing Performance Institute. The 2013 NGM study compiled insights from 375 participating manufacturers nationwide and can be downloaded here: 2013 NGM Study Report.


About American Small Manufacturers Coalition
The American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC) is a trade association of manufacturing extension agents whom work to improve the innovation and productivity of America's manufacturing community. ASMC advocates for legislative and programmatic resources that allow its small manufacturing clients to better compete in the global marketplace. For more information, visit

About IMEC
IMEC was established in 1996 with the goal of improving the productivity and competitiveness of Illinois’ small and mid-sized manufacturing firms. A non-profit economic development organization, IMEC is funded in part by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and through fees paid by Illinois manufacturers for IMEC’s services. IMEC has helped more than 2,000 Illinois manufacturing companies to achieve more than $1 billion in improvements in productivity, sales and cost savings. IMEC has 11 offices statewide and 40 full-time manufacturing improvement specialists. To learn more about IMEC or other supporting organizations, contact Amy Fitzgerald, at 309-677-2977 or afitzgerald(at)imec(dot)org or visit

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