According to the Leading Edge Alliance National Manufacturing Outlook Survey, U.S. manufacturers are concerned about overcoming supply chain disruptions, fluctuating fuel pricing and staffing shortages. Data was gathered from an aggregated sample of middle-market and large, global manufacturers in various industries, primarily in machining/industrial, transportation/automotive and construction.

Manufacturing leaders are restructuring their sourcing strategies for long-term growth while investing in new product and process research. Overall, they indicate that now is the time to focus on foundational improvements that will mitigate uncertainty and build their future success.

Highlights from 2022-2023 Survey Results

  • More local and regional strategic partnerships – Manufacturers are placing more trust in their regional economies and are looking for supplier relationships closer to home. National economic prospects are perceived with less optimism, while attitudes about the international economy are trending toward pessimism for 2023.
  • More automation to augment smaller labor pools – Although investment in plant and equipment and automation has been the talk of this industry for many years, the pandemic and accelerated labor shortage means that real dollars are moving toward plant modernization. Top investments for 2023 include new manufacturing equipment, ERP systems, and robotics.
  • Exploration of machine learning and analytics tools – Manufacturers acknowledged an uptick in R&D investment this year, which aligns with their top operational spending priorities for information technology tools, new product or service development, and business technology and intelligence data.
  • Less cybersecurity response than expected – Although the manufacturing sector was the most targeted industry for ransomware and vulnerability attacks in 2021, companies in this survey did not plan to invest significantly in shoring up their cybersecurity in the coming 12 months. This could be because the companies have already invested in this aspect of their business, or they may perceive cybersecurity as less urgent than other investments in the short term. However, manufacturers cited cybersecurity and data protection as top business drivers for using technology.
  • Less concern over ESG as an emerging requirement – This sample of manufacturers, particularly in the middle market U.S. machining/industrial (17%), transportation/automotive (12%), and construction (11%) sectors, indicated little concern about environmental, social, governance (ESG) factors as severe barriers to growth, at least for the coming 12 months. However, it is an emerging requirement as larger customers must perform ESG due diligence along the value chain.

Read the entire survey report for in-depth information about the challenges the respondents face, the key strategies that the best-run manufacturers believe will be most effective, and the outlook for 2023.

Please contact Julie Wondra, Adams Brown manufacturing team leader for more information.