Studies & Reports
Pressure transmitter shipments, after returning to pre-recession levels in 2010, saw strong growth in 2011, even besting 2010’s growth by several percentage points, according to a new study from ARC Advisory Group. Despite the return to positive growth, however, risks remain, such as continued economic uncertainty in the US and Europe, and slowing growth in Asia. “Although the economy is sending mixed signals, the pressure transmitter market will likely continue to see positive growth.  Ongoing demand for energy will require more oil and gas, driving up demand and long-term energy prices.  Finding new oil deposits is becoming more difficult and those that are found tend to be more challenging to develop and refine, creating significant opportunities for pressure transmitter suppliers,” according to senior analyst Allen Avery, the principal author of ARC’s “Pressure Transmitter Worldwide Outlook.”Key highlights for the pressure transmitter market in 2011 included growth in both established and emerging economies, especially for energy and infrastructure related applications.  After a down year in 2009, the majority of suppliers enjoyed a rebound in sales during 2010, and this trend continued in 2011. Sales of smart pressure transmitters will continue to outpace those of conventional and low-cost devices, as users seek to utilize recent technological advances to improve visibility into plant operations to help maximize productivity and the availability of production resources.  This user focus on asset management also fuels demand for transmitters that incorporate onboard diagnostics capabilities and use digital communication protocols.Increasingly tough safety and environmental regulations have helped drive increasing adoption of safety integrity level (SIL)-rated transmitters for safety instrumented systems (SIS) to mitigate the risk of such catastrophic events.   Pressure transmitters are an integral part of safety instrumented systems, and most leading pressure transmitter suppliers now offer SIL-rated transmitters.
A new study says the market for industrial computers will top $3 billion by 2015, thanks to the rapid growth of computer and communication technology.  The new research from Frost & Sullivan’s Analysis of the Global Industrial Computers Market research that the global industrial computers market earned revenues of $2.13 billion in 2011 and estimates this to reach $3.22 billion in 2015. “Currently, competition has intensified across all industries, leading companies to increase their process efficiency, quality and productivity, thus raising the need for industrial computers,” Frost & Sullivan research analyst Katarzyna Owczarczyk said in a statement.  “In each industry, automation systems have progressed beyond programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems to include robotics or machine vision systems.” While competition is heating up at a global level, and computer technology is striving forward at an increasing rate, most companies prefer to make immediate and maximum profits by using the latest technologies available. This is creating a need to expedite the decision-making process for investments into the industrial computers market, as companies aim to refresh and update their processes with modern technology to remain competitive. “Key factors to establishing successful automation systems include faster and more reliable networking solutions such as industrial computers that, when combined with advanced process control software, function as automation supervisors with the ability to connect external machines and plants,” said Owczarczyk. “Furthermore, recent increases in computational and storage capability and the integration of several tasks on one platform have allowed for the creation of computing platforms capable of recording and analyzing terabytes of raw data, resulting in increased process efficiency, quality and productivity.”The industrial computers market has thrived in the Far East – especially in South Korea, Taiwan and China. These countries have produced industrial computers, exporting them at extremely low prices. As their quality matches the expectations of the Western market, the continued increase in competition from the Far East has put pressure on the established European market players. “With many end users being price sensitive and importing inexpensive products from Asian countries such as China or Taiwan, it is expected that these countries will penetrate the market as low cost options, especially among the small and medium sized companies, which cannot afford high price, best quality products,” said Owczarczyk. European and American industrial computer suppliers are therefore forced to keep their prices down in order to compete, which may be difficult to achieve due to higher production costs. This in turn puts pressure on industrial computer manufacturers to drive down prices, as customers will be seeking to reduce their own costs. The impact of this restraint remains strong in the short and medium terms, as many end users – especially in the Asian and Eastern European countries – will prefer low cost industrial computers. “Once end users recognize the need of having highly effective machines, the adoption is expected to increase,” said Owczarczyk.
Canadian industries operated at 81.0 per cent of their production capacity in the second quarter, with the manufacturing sector making as much of a contribution as non-manufacturing, Statistics Canada says. The boost, up 0.5 percentage points from the previous quarter, means production capacity is at its highest level since 2007.The advance in the second quarter follows gains of 0.3 percentage points in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 0.2 percentage points in the first quarter of 2012.As in the three previous quarters, the strength of the transportation equipment and machinery industries contributed significantly to the growth in capacity utilization of manufacturing industries as a whole in the second quarter.The largest contributors to the increase in the capacity utilization rate were the transportation equipment, machinery, wood product manufacturing and non-metallic mineral product manufacturing industries.Capacity use was down in 10 industries, notably the computer and electronic product manufacturing industry and in the food industry.Higher production of motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts as well as of aerospace products and their parts raised the capacity utilization rate in the transportation equipment industry by 1.9 percentage points to 91.7 per cent.Increased output of agricultural, construction and mining machinery and, to a lesser extent, of metalworking machinery helped push the capacity utilization rate in the machinery manufacturing industry up to 89.1 per cent.In the wood product manufacturing industry, capacity utilization rose from 76.1 per cent in the first quarter to 77.9 per cent in the second quarter. As in the previous quarter, the increase was mainly a result of higher production in the sawmills and wood preservation industry.The non-metallic mineral product manufacturing industry operated at 81.3 per cent of its capacity, up 3.3 percentage points. Higher production of cement and concrete products was largely responsible for the increase.The computer and electronic product manufacturing industry ran at 85.1 per cent of its capacity, down 2.6 percentage points. The main reason for the decline was lower production of communications equipment.
Canada's manufacturing sector grew in August, although at its weakest pace in five months, according to the RBC Canadian Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index. The headline RBC PMI - a composite indicator designed to provide a single-figure snapshot of the health of the manufacturing sector - indicated a solid improvement in Canadian manufacturing business conditions in August. However, having fallen slightly from 53.1 in July to 53.0, the PMI remained below the series average of 54.2 and signaled the weakest manufacturing expansion in five months.The RBC PMI indicated further increases in both output and new orders in August. However, the rate of output growth was unchanged from July's four-month low, while the expansion for new orders remained below the series average. Employment also increased over the month, but the rate of job creation slowed slightly to its weakest since April. Input prices meanwhile increased in August, reversing the marginal decline in July."In contrast to declining manufacturing conditions around the world, particularly in the U.S., Euro area and China, the Canadian manufacturing sector is continuing to grow, albeit at a moderately slower pace," Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC, said in a statement. "It is encouraging to see that new export orders rebounded and manufacturing firms reported that they continued to hire employees in August, which may provide a favourable early indication in advance of the broader Canadian employment report due out on Friday."In addition to the headline RBC PMI, the survey also tracks changes in output, new orders, employment, inventories, prices and supplier delivery times.The volume of new orders received by Canadian manufacturers increased in August, with firms generally linking this to greater client demand. New export orders also rose over the month, with an increase in new work from the U.S. particularly mentioned by panellists. Overall, total new orders rose solidly from July, although the rate of growth remained slower than the series average.Reflective of the rise in new work intakes, manufacturers across Canada raised their production levels in August. Output has risen in each month since data collection began in October 2010, but the rate of increase was unchanged from the four-month low recorded in July. Firms also depleted stocks of finished goods, albeit to a lesser extent than one month previously, and reduced the level of outstanding business for the third month running.The amount of inputs bought by surveyed companies increased in August, with firms largely linking the rise in purchases to greater output requirements. Input inventories also rose over the month; however, the rate of stock accumulation was only slight overall. Concurrently, suppliers' delivery times lengthened further during the latest survey period. However, the increase in input lead times was only marginal and the weakest in the 23-month series history.Manufacturing employment in Canada increased for the seventh consecutive month in August, with approximately 18 per cent of firms hiring additional staff compared to July. Panellists generally attributed this to recent increases in new orders. Although remaining solid overall, the rate of job creation nonetheless slowed to its weakest since April.In contrast to the marginal reduction recorded in July, input costs faced by Canadian manufacturers increased in August. Increased prices for fuel, wood and steel were all particularly mentioned by respondents. Overall, the rate of inflation was the strongest in three months. Firms partially passed on the increase in cost burdens to clients by raising their output charges. However, selling prices rose only modestly, despite the rate of increase hitting a four-month high.Alberta & British Columbia and Quebec saw weaker manufacturing expansions in August. All four regions posted increases in new orders; however, the slowest rate of growth was reported by firms operating in Ontario. Ontario posted the weakest rise in employee headcounts during August. Alberta & British Columbia posted the strongest rate of input price inflation in August."Although the Canadian manufacturing sector grew at its weakest pace since March, the slowdown was less severe than in July and the pace of expansion remained solid overall," said Cheryl Paradowski, president and CEO, PMAC. "An uptick in new export orders, reflecting greater demand from the U.S., contributed to a faster expansion in total new orders in August. However, the increase in new work did not translate into a stronger rise in production, with output growing at the same rate as in July."
The economy grew at an annual rate of 1.8 per cent in the second quarter, as companies increased investment in equipment and added substantially to their inventories.The pace of growth was slightly higher than economists' expectations and nearly in line with the Bank of Canada projection for 1.9 per cent.But it's the third quarter in a row for sluggish economic performance below two per cent.“The Canadian economy did slightly better than expected in the second quarter, but the pace was still nothing to write home about,” Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, said in a note to clients.“The economy is essentially growing right in line with the U.S. now and is still rising below potential.”Statistics Canada said business investment was mainly responsible for keeping the economy afloat from April to June – as if on cue in the wake of scoldings from the Bank of Canada and federal government, who recently chided companies for sitting on their spare cash.The agency said investment in plant and equipment grew at its fastest pace since this time last year, up 2.3 per cent from the previous quarter. Purchases of transportation equipment and industrial machinery were particularly strong.And non-farm inventories surged during between April and June. Businesses increased their inventories by $15.2 billion in the second quarter – $7 billion more than in the first three months of the year.But demand for exports slowed and imports rose substantially, dragging down overall growth.In June, gross domestic product grew 0.2 per cent from May, propelled by output in the mining, oil and gas sector. Output declined in the wholesale and retail trade sectors, as well as manufacturing.Sluggish economic growth prompted a warning from Ottawa.The Finance Department recorded a shrinking deficit for the first three months of the 2012-20113 fiscal year, but cautioned that the fiscal outlook is at risk of deteriorating.In its monthly Fiscal Monitor, the department said the deficit for the first three months of the 2012-13 fiscal year was $2 billion – less than half the $4.2-billion recorded for the same period last year.The department said that's consistent with its plan to reduce the 2012-2013 deficit to $21.1 billion.But it also warned that a weak economy poses a mounting risk for the fiscal situation.From April to June, federal revenues rose 4.7 per cent because of higher income tax payments and a hike in the Employment Insurance rate, while expenses rose at a more modest pace.For the month of June alone, the deficit was $1.1 billion, compared with $2.3 billion for June 2011.
Manufacturers' optimism about the Canadian economy dipped 22 points from last quarter's high of 76 per cent despite indications that revenue and growth is looking stronger, according to the PwC Manufacturing Barometer report for the second quarter of 2012. With the Canadian economy dependent on exports and the current uncertainty in export markets (Asia, Europe and the United States), confidence levels among industrial manufacturers have lowered, the report found.But despite the dip in optimism, survey respondents indicate that revenue projections are looking moderately strong. Ninety-three per cent of Canadian manufacturers expect positive revenue growth for their own companies, with seven per cent forecasting double-digit growth."Sustained interest in international markets is a contributing factor to the confidence manufacturers have with their revenue forecast for next year," Calum Semple, industrial manufacturing leader, PwC, said in a statement. While a majority of North American deals were made locally, the five outbound deals were larger in terms of value, according to the second quarter M&A report on the global industrial manufacturing industry, assembling value."The bulk of the outbound transactions involved targets in Europe as investors looked to tap into attractive niche markets and acquire new technologies," Semple said. "These strategies reflect companies' aim to align their product mixes with the growing global demand for energy and energy efficiency."Looking ahead, the percentage of Canadian manufacturers who plan to expand to new markets abroad and establish new strategic alliances and joint ventures all increased this quarter. Of the Canadian manufacturers selling abroad, more than half of the respondents anticipate international sales to contribute to their total revenue over the next 12 months.Sixty-three per cent of barometer respondents also said they need to increase investment in their operations and the leading area of operational interest is information technology (IT), with 40 per cent of surveyors highlighting this area as a priority.Regardless of their belief that spending to improve their IT operations is good for business, in reality taking action to invest remains low. Overall spending on IT is three per cent, despite an industry average of 3.6 per cent for IT spending as a percentage of revenue in 2011."Investments in IT need to be viewed as a priority for manufactures as technology is inseparable from strategic thinking in today's business climate," Richard Jhang, technology advisory leader, PwC, said. "To stay afloat in the sea of an unstable global economy, organizations must view technology as an essential part of their entire business plan and not just part an IT department consigned to mundane functions such as keeping servers running and email flowing."Jhang added, "Success depends on the right alignment of technology and business strategies, as well as bringing them together in the early stages of any plan."To learn more about PwC's second quarter manufacturing barometer survey, please visit www.pwc.com/ca/industrial-manufacturing.
Despite a sputtering in the global economy, the global market for PLM software grew faster in 2011 than it did in 2010, a new study says. PLM consulting firm CIMdata released those findings as part of its 2012 PLM Market Industry Analysis Report, the fourth of five modules of the CIMdata PLM Market Analysis Report Series. The series is designed to provide detailed information and in-depth analysis of the worldwide PLM market during 2011. It contains analyses of major trends and issues, leading PLM providers, revenue analyses for geographical regions, industry sectors, and historical and projected data on market growth. “While the global economy sputtered, the PLM economy grew faster in 2011 than in 2010, which was a very good year,” Stan Przybylinski, CIMdata’s director of research, said in a statement. “Most segments of the market that CIMdata tracks saw high double digit growth, with very strong license sales. Given that new license sales are often precursors to more software and services investment, this is a strong indicator that 2012 could be another solid year for PLM solution and services providers. Strong growth continued in industries with long-time PLM investments, such as automotive, high-tech and fabrication and assembly (F&A). Some other small markets, like shipbuilding and infrastructure also saw increased spending.”The report provides Mainstream PLM and segment estimates for 2011 and forecasts for 2012 through 2016 for all industry sectors covered by CIMdata, with a special focus on the cPDm segment.To learn more, visit www.CIMdata.com.
A new report from A.T. Kearney has found that companies are spending as much money on capital projects as they did before the recession, but that bump in spending is bringing with it new challenges. The report, “ExCap II: Top-Level Thinking on Capital Projects,” is a study of best practices in managing capital projects across their entire life cycles. This is the second edition of the study, and it found that although capital spending has recovered since the 2008-2009 recession to $11 - $12 trillion annually, the challenges pose major risks to large capital project economics. Many of the pre-recession capital project issues are returning including resource scarcity, cost management, and underleveraged project portfolios. The study found that 23 per cent of capital projects do not meet the required financial return threshold.The study also found inconsistencies in three areas:• Resource availability: Although the world faces high levels of unemployment (+8 per cent in the U.S. and + 11 per cent in Europe), there is a significant lack of engineering and project management talent available to capital project managers.• Capital availability: Although poor project discipline results in budget overruns of 5 to 10 per cent, capital project managers consider capital availability a major constraint.• Leadership’s understanding of capex issues: An overwhelming majority of senior managers believe they have the right capex organization, processes and performance levels, yet project performance is often poor.The study also found that the leading companies have improved their capital project processes and performance issues since the 2008 study. There are three themes that distinguish the leaders, including:• Bigger role for senior management: Senior management at leading ExCap II companies play active roles in capital projects, at all stages and in all aspects of the project.• Advanced Risk Management: Leading companies stand out based on how they identify and prioritize risks. They improve risk management at every step – identifying, quantifying, tracking, and mitigating threats. • Portfolio view of projects: The leaders in the study look at their projects as a portfolio. At the design stage, they edit out the variations and opt for maximum commonality. To read the full 2012 A.T. Kearney ExCap II Report, please visit www.atkearney.com.
China's manufacturing activity fell to a nine-month low in August, a survey showed Thursday, stepping up pressure on Beijing for more interest rate cuts and stimulus measures to revive growth in the world's second-largest economy. HSBC Corp. said a preliminary version of its monthly purchasing managers' index fell to 47.8 from July's 49.3 on a 100-point scale where numbers below 50 indicate a contraction. It said one component, new export orders, fell at its fastest rate in three years.The report adds to signs China's economic recovery is taking longer and will be weaker than initially forecast due in part to unexpectedly weak demand in key U.S. and European export markets.“To achieve the stated policy goal of stabilizing growth and the jobs market, Beijing must step up policy easing to lift infrastructure investment in the coming months,” said HSBC economist Hongbin Qu in a statement with the report.The HSBC PMI is based on a survey of 420 manufacturers. HSBC said Wednesday's preliminary index was based on responses from 85 to 90 per cent of those companies. The full version is due out Sept. 1.Beijing has cut rates twice since June 1 and is pumping money into the economy through higher spending on public works construction. But authorities are moving cautiously after China's huge stimulus in response to the 2008 crisis fueled inflation and a wasteful building boom.Growth fell to a three-year low of 7.6 per cent in the quarter ending June 30 and analysts who previously expected a rebound as early as the start of this year have pushed back their timeframe for recovery to the fourth quarter or early 2013.The slowdown is due in part to government lending and investment curbs imposed in 2010-11 to cool an overheated economy and inflation. Authorities reversed course in late 2011 after a plunge in export demand but have retained controls on construction and home purchases to prevent a surge in housing costs.Premier Wen Jiabao said last week China should meet its targets this year but warned “economic hardships” may continue for some time.The Communist Party's growth target this year is 7.5 per cent, above the low single-digit levels of the United States, Europe and Japan but painful for Chinese companies that are used to high growth.Companies in industries such as retailing and shipbuilding say sales are down as much as 50 per cent from a year earlier. Exporters have been hit by the slump in global demand for Chinese goods, which pushed thousands of small producers into bankruptcy.In August, the HSBC index for new export orders fell to 44.7 from July's 46.7.“The sluggish external environment will continue to put stress on China's export sector, which would be the main risk factor,” said JP Morgan in a report.Six major Chinese cities have announced multibillion-dollar construction plans as part of efforts to inject money into the economy.The latest was unveiled Tuesday by Tianjin, a port east of Beijing. It calls for spending 1.5 trillion yuan ($240 billion) to develop 10 industries including aerospace and petrochemicals.Analysts expect at least one more interest rate cut this year and other steps to expand lending.“We believe there is a clear need for and significant likelihood of further loosening measures from the government,” said Goldman Sachs economists Yu Song and Yin Zhang in a report.
The year 2011 showed a resurgence in the Distributed Control Systems (DCS) market compared to 2009 and 2010, when the effects of the worldwide financial crisis and recession were most apparent, a new study has found. According to a new ARC Advisory Group study, “Distributed Control Systems Worldwide Outlook,” the recovery in the market to all time new highs was driven by new projects in the traditional heavy process industries as sales orders in 2010 translated into revenue in 2011.  The industry verticals of electric power generation and oil & gas were particularly strong.  Since these verticals are some of the largest in the DCS marketplace, the overall DCS marketplace showed an upswing.  The metals & mining sector also showed significant above average growth, even though this sector is not very large.The resurgence in power generation projects, particularly in the nuclear and gas-fired combined cycle sectors, increased demand for DCSs.  In the developed regions, the emphasis was and will remain on improving efficiency, reducing emissions, and improving ramp rates.  The emerging countries, China in particular, are undergoing a shift from coal-fired power generation to nuclear, wind, and solar generation.  The resurgence in power generation projects — including many large greenfield projects — will not only drive demand for DCSs, but also for CPM, APC, optimization, and training simulators.While 2011 showed a strong resurgence in revenue numbers surpassing the 2008 peak, ARC expects the revenue to return to its normal slow but steady growth rate with a CAGR of approximately 3 to 4 per cent over the five year period of 2011 – 2016.  Most DCS suppliers reported very strong order rates during late 2011 and the first quarter of 2012; however, projections for sales orders in the remainder of 2012 are tailing off.  The DCS market has a lag between orders and revenue approaching nine months on average, due to the heavy concentration of project business in the market, and because of this lag, ARC is projecting an average growth rate in DCS revenue in 2012.For more information on this study, visit the ARC Advisory Group website.
Business growth continued in the power transmission industry for the ninth consecutive quarter, but sales growth has slowed from past quarters, according to a new study by the PTDA. The PTDA Business Index found that the second quarter of 2012 was the ninth consecutive quarter for business growth among PTDA members, with a reading of 54.2. Compared with a reading of 75.4 for the first quarter of 2012, the recently released second-quarter results indicate the power transmission/motion control industry is still expanding but at a slower pace than before. Both distributors and manufacturers reported decelerated sales growth in the second quarter of 2012. PTDA members participating in the Business Index expect 2012 to be another year of sales growth with an average forecast of 8 per cent, down from 11 per cent in the first quarter survey.The PTDA Business Index full report is available through PTDA’s website. It includes U.S. and Canadian breakout data in addition to historical data.
India's industrial output fell a worse-than-expected 1.8 per cent in June, its third fall in four months, as slumping manufacturing and investment darken the outlook for Asia's third-largest economy. A 3.2 per cent fall in manufacturing output drove the decline, data released by the government Thursday showed. Production of capital goods – a sign of investment in things like machinery – fell a worrying 27.9 per cent.It is a far cry from last June, when mining, manufacturing and electricity output grew by 9.5 per cent.“Capital expenditure has dried up and manufacturing has now ground to a halt. Consumer demand is still solid, though below potential and is nowhere near enough to make up for the shortfall in business demand,” Moody's Analytics economist Glenn Levine said in an email.The poor numbers will put pressure on the central bank to cut its key interest rate even though inflation remains high and New Delhi has not enacted policy reforms –  like raising the diesel price to ease the fiscal deficit –  which the central bank and others say are key to unlocking India's economic potential.India's growth is at its lowest in almost a decade. The central bank recently cut its growth forecast for the year ending March 2013 to 6.5 per cent, but many private sector economists are saying that the economy won't even attain 6 per cent growth.Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry called the numbers “a cause for serious concern.”“Any further decline in GDP growth will have a deleterious effect on employment and on consumer demand,” he said in an email.
Strong demand for energy efficiency solutions in manufacturing is driving the low-power AC drives market, which expected to grow in 2012, according to a new ARC Advisory Group study. The study found the market for low-power AC drives experienced strong growth in 2011 as manufacturers and other industrial operations addressed initiatives for energy cost savings and reduced energy consumption. Researchers expect capital investments for low-power AC drives to grow as they save energy and raise productivity by offering more precise speed control and providing a quick ROI. “Low power AC drives are a key product for improving energy efficiency as well as sustainability in the manufacturing, infrastructure and building automation sectors,” ARC senior analyst Himanshu Shah, the principal author of ARC’s “Low Power AC Drives Worldwide Outlook,” said in a statement. “This will create significant growth opportunities for the low power AC drives market and its suppliers over the next five year forecast period. These factors make the use of low power AC drives easier to justify even during uncertain economic periods.”Industries in the mature economies are expected to invest further in improving the productivity and energy efficiency of their existing manufacturing operations. The trend toward intelligent building automation will further increase demand for low power AC drives in all economies, the study found.Compared to the developed economies, the Asian market, especially outside Japan, will continue to expand faster, but at a slower pace than previous growth. While China experienced strong low-power AC drives market growth in the recent past, future growth is expected to be a bit more modest, and key regional development opportunities will also be in Latin America, according to the ARC study.For more information on this study, please visit the ARC Advisory Group website.
After registering strong growth in May and June, Canada's manufacturing sector slowed to a four-month low in July, according to the RBC Canadian Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (RBC PMI). The headline RBC PMI - a composite indicator designed to provide a single-figure snapshot of the health of the manufacturing sector - signalled a solid improvement in Canadian manufacturing business conditions during July. However, at 53.1, down from 54.8 in June and below the series average of 54.2, the headline index indicated the weakest improvement since March.The RBC PMI found that the volume of new orders received by Canadian manufacturers rose in July, with this generally linked to greater client demand. However, new orders, as well as output, grew at sharply reduced rates compared to June. Employment increased at the slowest pace since April, though the rate of job creation remained solid overall, while the average price paid for inputs fell for the first time since October 2010."Canada's manufacturing sector continued to grow in July, albeit at a slower pace, suggesting global growth worries are weighing on the economy. Employment improved for the sixth consecutive month in the sector, with 21 per cent of firms hiring additional staff, largely driven by increased production," said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC. "As manufacturing conditions remain positive overall, we anticipate that further gains in employment and a pick-up in exports will support Canada's GDP growth in 2012."In addition to the headline RBC PMI, the survey also tracks changes in output, new orders, employment, inventories, prices and supplier delivery times.Key findings from the July survey include:• New orders and output grow, albeit at sharply reduced rates;• Solid increase in headcounts, but rate of job creation at three-month low; and• Average input costs fall for first time in 22-month series history.The volume of new orders received by Canadian manufacturers increased in July, continuing the trend that has been recorded in each month since the inception of the survey. Approximately 32 per cent of firms reported an increase in new work, with this generally linked to greater client demand. However, new export orders rose only marginally, partly reflecting weakness in the global economy. Subsequently, total new work intakes grew at a sharply reduced rate during the latest survey period.Reflective of the rise in new orders, production increased further during July. Although moderate, output growth was the slowest in four months. Meanwhile, firms depleted their stocks of finished goods, with a number of companies using existing inventories to fulfil some new order requirements. Concurrently, backlogs of work fell for the second month running and to a greater extent than in June.Employment in Canada's manufacturing sector rose for the sixth consecutive month in July. Approximately 21 per cent of firms hired additional staff since June, largely citing the increase in production. Although remaining solid, the rate of job creation nonetheless slowed to a three-month low.Regional highlights include:• Manufacturing operating conditions improved in all four Canadian regions in July. Quebec posted the strongest month-on-month improvement, while the weakest was reported in Ontario.• The volume of new orders received by manufacturers based in Ontario was unchanged from that recorded one month previously, but growth was recorded elsewhere.• Staffing levels increased in all four regions during July. The weakest rate of job creation was reported in Ontario.• July data indicated that average input costs fell in three regions. The only exceptions were Alberta and British Columbia, which saw a slight increase.
What’s the most important factor for manufacturing success? A new report says it is labour productivity. The survey, commissioned by Kronos Incorporated and conducted by IDC Manufacturing Insights, looked at 11 countries and found that labour productivity ranked highest as a factor for achieving manufacturing success. Factors such as modern infrastructure, government support, and foreign direct investment ranked in varying degrees after productivity.The survey asked manufacturers from Canada, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain, the U.K., and U.S. about current trends in global manufacturing, and 70 per cent of all respondents cited manufacturing as the single most important industry for their country's economic health.When it comes to labour productivity, almost two-thirds (74.7 per cent) of respondents agreed that a high level of labour productivity is very or extremely important for achieving manufacturing success. When asked about factors that can improve workforce productivity, training and continuous improvement of the existing workforce was the top choice, with 68.2 per cent of all respondents noting it as effective. Investment in technology followed next, with 63.3 per cent.And what are some of the issues impacting productivity? The survey found that absences can get in the way, but not as much in Canada, which, along with Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. agreed absenteeism is not a significant issue. Brazil, France and Mexico, however, cited absenteeism as a bigger problem in manufacturing.How does the future of manufacturing look as a career option for the next generation? Survey respondents were optimistic, with 88.2 per cent of all respondents were very or somewhat positive about encouraging younger relatives to consider manufacturing as a practical career option.The respondents were also asked about one strategy that they would recommend for global competitiveness. The winning recommendation, at a combined 45.5 per cent, was that manufacturing companies should keep existing facilities as is and invest in workforce operational excellence methodologies, which comprise of strategies for more effective labour cost control, minimized labour law compliance risk, and improved workforce productivity."Manufacturers today are judged on a world stage and their treatment of labour is under the scrutiny of governments, downstream supply chain partners, and end consumers. With developed countries facing high levels of unemployment and falling wages, emerging nations can no longer rely on low cost labour as a growth strategy,” says Gregg Gordon, senior director, manufacturing practice group, Kronos and author of Lean Labor. “They will need to develop a skilled, productive workforce to compete globally. Also, as manufacturers seek growth internationally, they are required to invest in economic development by foreign governments; specifically good paying, local jobs. With increased global scrutiny, competition, and supply chain complexities, the workforce is becoming a competitive differentiator for manufacturers everywhere."

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