Heppelmann’s conclusions are, in part, based on data from a survey of 300 global manufacturing executives commissioned by PTC and performed by Oxford Economics, a global forecasting and quantitative analysis firm. Nearly 70 percent of responding executives said they expect their companies to undergo significant business process transformations over the next three years. The executives hold these expectations because they believe “they’re nearing a point of diminishing returns with their focus on improving manufacturing operations, with more than half saying they believe they’ve already wrung out almost all the potential savings from efficiencies in their production processes,” Heppelmann states in his article.
While this is undoubtedly true for many manufacturers, I have to wonder how true this statement holds for the majority of manufacturers. After all, less than a year ago I attended a presentation by Laurie Harbour, president of Harbour Results, at the Manufacturing in America Symposium. According to her analyses of current manufacturing data, manufacturers as a whole haven’t become more efficient over the past several years. “The extra revenues being brought in now [due to the upturn in U.S. manufacturing] are just hiding the inefficiencies,” she said. The data she produced showed that revenue per full time employee in 2011 was $160,000, but was only $149,000 in 2012. In 2012 revenue increased 16 percent over 2011 but throughput went down 7 percent, she said, which represents about an $11,000 loss per full time employee.