A survey of manufacturing engineers and engineering management shows they put increasing importance on global third-party approvals on the products they buy or sell in order to help them tap into European markets.
Chromalox, Inc. (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.), conducted the survey. The company manufactures industrial heat and control systems. Chromalox said the survey had 85 respondents, 67 percent from the U.S. and 33 percent were from other regions of the world.
Respondents reported that North American companies represent their greatest competitive threat, and this is expected to continue to be true for the next 2 years. On average, only 34 percent of respondents' revenues are derived from outside of the U.S.
The ability for manufacturers to customize products for a particular application was of the utmost importance, with 39 percent of respondents saying that up to 20 percent of the products they buy are customized.
Respondents expected to continue enhancing their control systems by adding predictive maintenance and equipment diagnostic functions, to help them manage information related to their process or application. Twenty-five percent of survey respondents said they have temperature control systems that included diagnostic or predictive maintenance capabilities, compared to just 5 percent of respondents in a similar survey last year. Chromalox expects the strong demand for more intelligent temperature control systems to continue, with demand increasing another 9 percent in the next 2 years.
Of those surveyed, 27 percent have some form of remote equipment monitoring technology and another 10 percent expect to add remote control technology between now and 2008.
Seventy-six percent of respondents expected plant production volumes to continue to increase this year. Only 17 percent forecast little or no change.
To remain competitive, 19 percent of survey respondents planned to install improved production technology and implement lean manufacturing techniques.
Budgets Are Better
Only 6 percent of respondents expected a decreased budget in 2006, compared to 20 percent last year. More than half – 51 percent - expected to increase their budgets for 2007.
Staffing levels were expected to increase slightly in 2006, with 40 percent of respondents claiming there will be no change, and 49 percent planning to increase staff.
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