Value-added manufacturing is an increasingly popular business model for the industry.
The EIU’s paper finds that although output is growing globally, access to capital is still a major issue for manufacturers. Other concerns include costs of transport, energy and raw materials.
But on the whole, the manufacturing sector is optimistic that business will continue to improve.
Key findings include:
- Producers are confident in their ability to innovate—a central aspect of high-value manufacturing—but most acknowledge they will have to continue to boost their innovative capabilities. Over the past year, 40% increased their investments in research and development, while 19% took on board more highly skilled workers.
- However, manufacturers cite some big obstacles to innovation and new product and service development, including costs (53% of respondents), uncertainty about customer demand (39%) and lack of appropriate in-house skills (38%). To overcome some of these hurdles, many are prepared to partner in the coming year: with suppliers (57%), large corporate clients (42%), technology providers (39%) and consumers (22%).
- Almost one in five is even prepared to partner with a rival, to share resources in the face of competition, and two-thirds say that they are already actively engaged in "open innovation", sharing ideas with third parties rather than trying to develop them entirely in-house.
- Many manufacturers (36% of the survey sample) are now developing products for the green market, or making their processes more eco-friendly. In some cases, this is driven by consumer demand; in others by regulatory pressure.