NEWMA marked a milestone with the 10th annual release of its findings, and while the industry has evolved over the past decade, little has changed in the past couple of years. Ninety-eight percent of respondents described their financial outlook as healthy or quite healthy, down nine-tenths of a percent from last year.
Lack of qualified workers is the primary factor holding manufacturers back, with 74.1 percent of respondents saying they struggle to find talent.
Many manufacturers also have plans for expansion and plant modernization, with 32 percent saying they plan to expand and 68 percent saying they will take modernization measures.
“Some of this may be attributed, perhaps, to the workforce shortage, where you maybe are replacing people with some automation,” said Mike Kawleski, public affairs manager for Georgia-Pacific and chairman of NEWMA’s communication task force.
Brad Nye, vice president of operations at Alliance Laundry Systems, said this is true of his company. The Ripon-based company anticipates continued growth in the next five years, and that prompted its move to purchase the Manitowoc Co. facility in Manitowoc. The company would like to employ 200 workers in Manitowoc.
“Really, for us, it’s about space, it’s about long-term growth, and it’s about labor scarcity,” Nye said of the Manitowoc expansion.
Automation has become a greater focus out of necessity, Nye said, with the company facing a deficit of about 100 workers on any given day.
Watch for more analysis of the Manufacturing Vitality Index in the January issue of Insight on Manufacturing.