Survey Says?

Our 2011 benchmarking initiative will offer valuable intelligence and real-world examples of shops and manufacturers excelling at the business of machining parts. It starts with a survey next month, and we hope you’ll be a part of it.

How do you rate against top-performing shops? No, how do you really rate? You may have a gut feeling as to how you match up to other similar companies, but chances are you lack the concrete data to enable a more critical comparison. The articles we write give you a chance to learn about some of the technologies, strategies and equipment other shops have implemented in their attempts to become more efficient and effective businesses. Those stories offer a means to gage your related efforts against theirs, which is certainly helpful. However, we’d like to take it a step further. A new initiative we’re launching next year will enable us to do that. Survey participation from readers like you is vital to its strength and success, though.

Our program is called Top Shops, a comprehensive benchmarking study conducted of all types and sizes of machining businesses. Top Shops will identify optimal shopfloor practices as well as operational and business metrics that define world-class competitiveness in discrete parts manufacturing. Our goal is to help companies ranging from small job shops to large, captive operations become better overall businesses in addition to more effective parts producers. The study will enable you to compare your shopfloor strategies and business approaches to similar companies. As a result, it will help you make sound decisions to emulate those identified as world-class operations.

Top Shops isn’t an exercise in ranking the “best” shops in the country. The range of work performed by the various companies that machine parts would make such a list inaccurate and unfair because some key performance indicators simply do not apply across the board. That said, Top Shops will include an Honors Program that highlights a handful of the most successful machining businesses, identified by responses to survey questions as well as detailed follow-up interviews by Modern Machine Shop editors.

The Honors Program will allow us to cull a quality selection of shops to profile in future magazine articles, detailing a key aspect of a company’s approach that enables it to be a trusted supplier of machined parts to its customers. We do, however, offer survey participants the choice of opting out of the Honors Program if they’d rather not be part of it.

As I mentioned, though, we need your help by participating in an online survey that will go live around mid-January and will remain available for a month or so. Of course, you’ll have the option of printing the survey and snail-mailing your answers to us if you prefer to do that. The benchmarking data will be shared in our August 2011 issue. Data from individual companies will be kept in complete confidence.

Please take time out of your busy schedule next month to provide survey answers. Your participation is greatly appreciated.