Energy Price Volatility Fueling High Anxiety for Manufacturers, Survey Finds

Durham, NC — December 18, 2008 — Cost pressures continue to be the main challenge for manufacturers globally, with energy cost volatility reaching a new level of concern in the manufacturing sector, according to TBM Consulting Group's sixth annual "Multinational Manufacturing Pulse" study.

Released this week, the study found that manufacturers' level of anxiety over energy cost volatility has more than doubled since last year, resulting in an increased commitment to eliminate waste.

Conducted in Q3 of 2008, the survey polled 1,406 executives from mid-sized to large firms in six major manufacturing countries in the western hemisphere — the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Mexico and Brazil.

The majority of respondents (53 percent) ranked "cost pressures" as the biggest hurdle to success in the year ahead, with 33 percent identifying "rising energy costs" as a source of angst, a dramatic increase from last year's responses at 11 percent. "Quality issues" and "people issues" continued to be challenges for manufacturers in the nations surveyed.

More than half (55 percent) of all manufacturers polled say they feel challenged by the current economic climate. The study also revealed that executives in the six industrial nations surveyed are taking measures to keep market share and maintain a competitive edge during this tumultuous time. Some of these steps include:

  • Improving quality (46 percent)
  • Shortening lead times (45 percent)
  • Increase ways to better connect with customers (38 percent)

  • Business improvement programs (25 percent)
  • New product development /innovation (18 percent)
  • Market expansion (16 percent)

Productivity Still Gaining