Poll Results are In

What are the Top Challenges Facing Manufacturing Companies & What Issues are Most Interesting to You?

We were extremely impressed by the thoughtful responses to our March poll questions – and we extend our thanks and appreciation to all who participated.

Although the respondent group was small (preventing us from claiming anything statistically definitive), we gained much insight about the challenges our readership is facing, as well as about which manufacturing-related issues we want to explore further.

Poll results are in!

As promised, here is a summary of the results from last month’s 5-question poll:

Responses to our first question, What is the most critical issue(s) and/or challenges(s) your organization faces?, implied that the down economy is still very much influencing business strategy, or, at the least, still has our attention on whole in a major way.

Top challenges listed were related to:

  • Customers focused on price only
  • Customer expectations related to scope of work
  • Where to make capital investments
  • Satisfying demand while avoiding risk
  • Materials costs generally and, specifically, difficulty qualifying for discounts from suppliers
  • Staffing issues, including challenges related to finding talent

When asked which challenges had the most impact on profitability, the top responses were clear: costs and talent.

We then asked about the potential gain that might be realized if these challenges were solved. All of our poll participants indicated a potential cost benefit of over $1K, but less than $1M.

The final poll question was: What topics and issues are you most interested in? We enabled respondents to select from a list of 16 topics, plus fill in their own, original responses. Our list included:

  • Operational Efficiency
  • Process Improvement
  • Performance Improvement
  • Decreasing Costs
  • Increasing Profitability
  • Minimizing Risk
  • Safety
  • Expansion Strategy
  • Equipment (design, repair, replacement, upgrades, reliability, etc.)
  • Project Planning
  • Skills Gap (workforce development, education, training, etc.)
  • Manufacturing in the U.S., vs. Overseas
  • Innovation in Manufacturing
  • Energy
  • Facility Management (facility development, utilization, plant layout, etc.)
  • Waste

Responses to this question (including responses to the fill-in-the-blank question) were as follows:

  • Operational Efficiency
  • Process Improvement
  • Decreasing Costs
  • Project Planning
  • Minimizing Risk
  • Skills Gap
  • Manufacturing in the U.S., vs. Overseas
  • Energy

While the choice of topics of interest certainly might be inspired by the current economic situation in the U.S., and globally (notice the number of topics related to efficiency/improvement, rather than, perhaps, expansion/innovation – options that we could assume may have been selected during an economic upturn), it’s also clear that our poll participants are most interested in those topics which have been the major points of discussion, concern and focus not only in manufacturing, but also in business generally. Specifically, topics related to the bottom line and creating a sustainable organization.

Would you have responded to our poll questions similarly or differently? We’d be very interested in hearing from you, and you can still participate in one of two ways:

  • Add a comment below – add your responses to the poll questions, or your own analysis of our conclusions, in a comment to this blog post.
  • Take the poll – we’d enjoy hearing what you think, and your answers will, of course, recalibrate the results. In which case, we will be happy to report any new insights.

Our thanks to everyone who participated in our Top Challenges Poll – we greatly appreciate your input and insight.

We hired EFI Group to help us figure out a project and scope it, and I felt confident they would keep a keen eye on it. They had to deliver quickly and they did it well. They are especially good at project management when you don’t have the resources to do it internally. Reliability is the word I would use to describe EFI Group.
— Coatings Industry Professional
EFI Group is timely. We’ve had a lot of situations when we’ve been in a time crunch and they’ve responded very quickly. They are detail oriented and efficient. They’re a good group of people who also have a lot of strength in pre-engineering — the thought process to get to preliminary design and making sure we’ve investigated all the potential asks of a project to ensure we didn’t miss anything. They have great attention to detail up front which is very important to any project because having that detail-oriented deep dive into the pre-engineering phase sets the stage for the success of the rest of the project, making the process smoother and making it much easier to keep the project on schedule and on budget.
— Mike Quigley, Engineering & Maintenance Manager, Food Industry
I’ve worked with EFI Group for a while, so I know they have a good, knowledgeable staff. We know we’re going to get the results from them we expect. From my interactions with all the different EFI team members I’ve worked with, I know they have knowledge across many industries. Equally, I never have to follow up with EFI Group and, in some cases, they keep me on track.
— Ryan Fredsall, General Manager, Pacer Minerals LLC
We view EFI Group as a team that can dimensionalize our capability to execute projects. We can articulate what it is we want to do and they can take that input and run with it without much intervention from us. They’re able to move a project along independently and only engage us when it’s time to bring us up to speed or get more input to drive a project to conclusion. That’s one of the reasons I view them as an excellent contractor.
— Environmental Engineering Industry Professional
EFI Group has good engineers and good customer service. We know when we get an EFI engineer on a project, we’re going to a get a good job from them and it’s been a productive relationship for both of us — I genuinely like the people.
— Corporate Director, Project Management in Food & Flavors Industry
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