The Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing & Productivity (WCMP) commissioned the 2022 Wisconsin Manufacturing Report – a comprehensive manufacturing view based on 400 interviews and five focus groups conducted across the state.

Insights from the Data

The Wisconsin Manufacturing Report confirmed that workforce shortages continue to dominate manufacturers’ attention and will transform the industry as operations find new ways to produce more with the same number of people. Even facing these challenges, they remain an optimistic and resilient bunch having weathered the pandemic and addressed supply chain restrictions. They are poised to grow, looking for new opportunities both domestically and internationally. Finally, technology can create new threats as well as opportunities. Manufacturers are underestimating A.I.’s positive impacts and the ongoing threat posed by cybercriminals.

 

Workforce is still the primary issue.

Wisconsin will not have enough workers for at least the next decade. Manufacturers lean into technology to address these shortages and grow their operations with the same number of people. The flexibility resulting from these technology investments enables companies to reduce their costs and integrate vertically, insourcing products from their suppliers. These changes put smaller manufacturers at risk.

Manufacturers are resilient and optimistic.

Our manufacturers adjusted to the stresses created and intensified by the pandemic. They strengthened their operations and created new capabilities. Manufacturers became more flexible and resilient than many thought possible. Creativity in new approaches restored supply chains and stabilized pricing since the 2022 report. Manufacturers are optimistic about their businesses and more positive about the general economy.

 

Many manufacturers are poised to grow.

Stronger, flexible, and stable operations provide the foundation for future growth. Manufacturers are looking for opportunities and are investing in finding new customers. More companies believe they will find these customers in the U.S. Still, a significant number see exporting as their path to future growth.

 

Underestimating the coming impact of Artificial Intelligence and cyber threats is risky.

New technology creates new challenges. Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) will transform manufacturing; disrupting operations, inducing new stresses, and creating tremendous opportunities. Most manufacturers are missing this transformation, believing A.I. will not impact their business. They are also underestimating the damage cybercriminals can inflict on their companies and are not taking the needed precautions. Leading manufacturers lean in and create new opportunities. Laggards are at-risk from crippling cyberattacks and losing business to companies that embrace new technology, including A.I.