Survey takes pulse of North American sourcing

Source: PlantServices.com

Jun 07, 2009

MFG.com, a global online marketplace for the manufacturing community, has announced the results of its latest MFGWatch Survey. More than 200 purchasing professionals and engineers from the manufacturing industry participated in the survey. Survey questions focused on the state of sourcing, sourcing preferences, company growth projections, reactions to economic conditions and more.

The majority of survey participants (55%) described their company as a product designer/OEM, 18% worked for outsourced manufacturers, 11% specified their company as a mixture of product design and manufacturer, and the remaining 16% described their companies as suppliers, research and development companies, and engineering support. Respondents hailed from all corners of the manufacturing industry: medical, energy, government/military, oil and gas, power generation, aerospace, agricultural, automotive, food processing, mining, textiles, woodworking, sports equipment, electronics, consumer products and more.  

The MFGWatch survey asked the community if their sourcing needs had changed in the past year. Over 69% said they had maintained or grown their sourcing needs, while 31% stated their sourcing needs had decreased during this period. Nearly half of the buyers said they were currently in the process of looking for new suppliers, while the other half stated they were not augmenting their supply chain.

Questioned about geographical sourcing preferences, 64% preferred to source with North American manufacturers, 19% favored China for their sourcing needs and 7% conducted their sourcing business in Europe. The remaining 10% were sourcing in South America, Africa and other countries.

Respondents were asked if the volume (both value and quantity) of their orders for sourcing had changed in the past year. Of those surveyed, 60% of respondents stated their volume had increased or remained the same. Over 40% reported a decrease in sourcing volume. Those responding affirmatively to the question were asked why there was an increase in sourcing activity. Of those surveyed, 45% of the respondents stated the increase was due to natural company growth, while another 27% found better opportunities for savings. A mere 2% replied their underlying costs have decreased.

Asked why their sourcing needs had decreased, 58% responded that overall demand had declined, and 18% had experienced budget cuts. Another 13% were re-strategizing their sourcing needs, and 6% have halted new product development. Surveyees were also asked if their sourcing volume had decreased; did they increase the frequency of order? Of those surveyed, 67% responded No, 5% replied Yes and 28% were not sure.

Survey participants were asked to forecast company growth in 2009. Over 82% expected to maintain or grow their business, 13% expected a decrease and 5% were unsure.  

Surveyees were asked if they had postponed or canceled any major purchases due to the current state of the economy. Of those surveyed, 11% have not canceled nor postponed any purchases, while:  

  • 35% stopped hiring new or replacement employees
  • 15% canceled software or upgrade purchases
  • 12% suspended facility expansion in 2009
  • 15% cut business travel
  • 8% did not renew memberships in professional societies or industry associations  

Respondents were also asked what actions their companies had taken to weather current economic conditions:

  • 22% resorted to layoffs
  • 21% initiated a hiring freeze
  • 18% shortened shifts and work hours
  • 10% reduced the amount sourced at one time
  • 9% reduced the frequency of items sourced
  • 6% reported no changes — business as usual
  • 5% closed facilities
  • 4% added automation to reduce payroll  
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