The survey also showed that, at the same time, close to half of respondents cite "keeping production costs under control" and "improving workforce productivity" as their most pressing challenges. That means ongoing investment in new technology and processes is not only happening, but continues to play a key role as manufacturers rebound from the economic downtown of 2008-2009, said Nick Samain, event manager with SME, which is organizing the upcoming Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show 2011 (CMTS 2011).
Responding to the survey, organizers of CMTS 2011 - taking place October 17-20 at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto - have announced an expanded show for this year, featuring live equipment demonstrations, a 600-exhibit trade show, an exclusive industry keynote, interactive panel discussions and industry-wide networking opportunities.
"Our survey shows that there is optimism for the future, and as Canadian companies look for ways to increase efficiencies while keeping costs down, they rely on a venue like CMTS more than ever to help break through the massive clutter of information out there," said Samain.
"Manufacturers know they need to integrate the latest advances into their daily operations, but the challenge is always how to go about doing so," he explained. "At CMTS 2011, they can see, hear and touch the range of potential solutions all under one roof."
When asked to name the most pressing challenges they face today, one-third of SME survey respondents pointed to either expanding into new markets, finding and retaining qualified personnel or updating equipment and processes. Meanwhile, 22 percent reported difficulty keeping up with industry trends. Additional highlights of the survey include:
· 58 percent of respondents have increased their manufacturing equipment budgets this year, while 29 percent have maintained the same budgets.
· 60 percent of those surveyed are exploring areas for diversification, with 62 percent planning to upgrade their machining and equipment as part of that strategy. Other areas earmarked for upgrading or diversification include design and engineering (45 percent), processing equipment (38 percent), quality (38 percent) and materials (35 percent).
· Just under 75 percent of respondents plan to invest in manufacturing equipment this year. Budgets range from $1 million and over (10.5 percent); $250,000 to $999,999 (16.3 percent); $50,000 to $249,999 (25.4 percent); and under $50,000 (21.8 percent).
· Two-thirds of respondents noted that trade shows play a role in their purchasing strategies. 81.3 percent use trade shows to see equipment in action; 70.3 percent to learn about new applications; 72.5 percent to see new products; and 52.7 percent to meet with technical staff.