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Seven New Year's Resolutions for U.S. Manufacturers

With the start of 2015, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of the New Year’s resolution. It seems that year after year, I watch the New Year’s Ball drop in Times Square and say to myself:

  • “This is the year I clean out the garage!”
  • “You know, I’m finally going to do something to stretch my brain; maybe I’ll learn to speak Mandarin Chinese this year.”

At midnight, I shout “Happy New Year!” and feel more determined than ever to uphold my promises. Unfortunately, here’s the reality: 1) The garage is too cold for me this time of year. 2) There’s an awful lot of characters to learn in Mandarin.

With that in mind, I’ve resolved to be more pragmatic and set more realistic resolutions for myself. My goal is now to work first on one shelf in the garage, and when I get that done, I’ll go after the tool cabinet. I’ve replaced Mandarin Chinese with a Spanish refresher course to get ready for a future trip to Spain.

Setting realistic New Year’s resolutions in the professional realm is also very important. While I am sure that many manufacturers would love to instantly triple sales and eliminate all production problems, this may not be in the cards for everyone. To be clear, my message isn’t to “set the bar low” just so that you can succeed. Rather, the goal is to focus on practical and realistic ways you can improve your business in 2015.

Here are seven suggested New Year’s resolutions for U.S. manufacturers:

  • Develop Your Workforce: Your staff is your company’s brainpower, an incredible asset. Creating a great work environment that fully engages employees should be a major priority in 2015. This will also help you attract the next generation of manufacturing workers while improving the skill set of your current employees. Engage them fully in important decisions and watch the good things that happen!
  • Educate Yourself on Emerging Technologies: There have been many recent breakthroughs with new technologies, particularly in areas such as robotics and additive manufacturing (3D printing). The good news: advancements are enabling technology to become more affordable and accessible to small- and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers. Stay knowledgeable about emerging technology trends and think about how they might impact your business.
  • Invest in Sustainability: There are many benefits to embracing environmentally safe practices: gaining a competitive edge, significantly reducing waste, and operating more efficiently. Additionally, there are federal incentives for U.S. manufacturers looking to adopt sustainable practices.
  • Optimize Your Supply Chain: Your supply chain significantly impacts your competitiveness and effectiveness. In 2015, don’t just focus on the price and capabilities of your supply chain. By thinking more broadly about better collaborations, integrated systems, and synergies, you can bring your business to a whole new level.
  • Try Exporting: 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside of the U.S. If you aren’t exporting, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities for growth. Many manufacturers don’t attempt to export because they are apprehensive about international regulations or believe they are “too small.” There are many resources out there to help you get started!
  • Get Certified: Obtaining internationally recognized certifications and embracing quality management systems can help you become more marketable to suppliers and customers. Adhering to industry standards demonstrates your commitment to quality, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. New ISO updates have been of particular interest to manufacturers lately.
  • Embrace Lean and Continuous Improvement: Sometimes the “tried and true” methodologies can make all the difference for a company. Lean and continuous improvement aren’t just about “cutting costs,” they’re about eliminating inefficiencies and waste so that you can become more productive... the ultimate goal is growth! If you have yet to learn more about concepts such as value stream mapping, kaizen and 5S, now is the perfect time. For more information about resources available to assist you, please check out our services and initiatives.

By implementing even one or two practical business resolutions, 2015 could be best year yet for many U.S. manufacturers. Cheers to your company’s success and to the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing!

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Excellent post. If only manufacturer's could accomplish a few of these. Keep up the great work MEP!
Great post Mark and tips that would easily work for businesses here in the UK. I particularly think it's important to develop your workforce whether that's by giving them more time to develop team relations, offer them specialised training or as the boss just get to know them more in an effort to create a better environment; the more you look after your workforce, the better they can look after your business

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