MADISON, WI – The Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing & Productivity (WCMP) released its second annual Wisconsin Manufacturing Report yesterday. The report details strong positions for most Wisconsin manufacturers, despite ongoing workforce issues, concerns about inflation, and a slowing of the economy. The WCMP, in collaboration with WMEP Manufacturing Solutions (WMEP) and the University of Wisconsin-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center (MOC) gathered these insights from 400 in-depth interviews with manufacturers across Wisconsin and five focus groups.
Workforce issues top the list of concerns for most manufacturers with 84 percent of participants saying it is difficult to find qualified workers while 56 percent are currently looking fill open positions. The results also show that larger manufacturers struggle with workforce issues more than smaller firms. As a result, automation enabled by new technology is becoming a key part of those larger companies’ strategies.
“Larger companies have the means and expertise to tackle transformation projects that increase productivity, reduce costs, improve quality, and make operations more resilient,” said Buckley Brinkman, WCMP’s executive director/CEO. “These investments will alter the manufacturing landscape as automating companies are able to bring subcontracted parts back in-house, putting smaller manufacturers at-risk.”
The list of manufacturers’ concerns showed a lessening of supply chain issues and increased attention on inflation and energy costs. Supply chain concerns fell from the top spot in last year’s study, while 49 percent of manufacturers mentioned inflation as an extremely important issue (up from 41 percent in 2021) and those citing energy costs nearly doubled to 30 percent from 17 percent in 2021.
“The conflict in Ukraine and uncertainty about local supply brought energy issues to the fore,” added Brinkman. “We think this may be the leading edge of energy concerns that spread as more manufacturers see their bills increase during the coming weeks.
“Overall, manufacturers are a resilient and optimistic group. They find ways to overcome difficulties and deliver to their customers. Our focus groups told us they see more opportunities even in a tougher business environment. They also welcomed a bit of a slowdown as production was at unsustainable levels earlier in the year.”
You can find the full report on the WCMP website.