Cincom Systems published a press release on Thursday announcing that in its latest research it found that over half of all engineers who work at build-to-order or engineer-to-order companies that make products on a mass scale spend a great deal of their time on low-value activities.
The report comes at a time when many Americans are deeply concerned by the exiting of manufacturing jobs and the closing of manufacturing facilities across the United States.
The biggest reason that the manufacturing sector of the American economy is shrinking is the fact that we are currently transitioning from an industrial economy into a service economy. American companies are finding it less expensive and more efficient to outsource the raw manufacturing of goods to other nations, while positions designing new products, engaging in technological R&D, managing the supply chain, and distributing or marketing goods are actually on the rise in the United States.
Nonetheless, many Americans who do not have a lot of professional mobility are worried about the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs, as well as the sometimes-lower quality of goods that are manufactured overseas.
A study finding an inefficient use of engineering time within manufacturing and mass-customization companies in the U.S. does not strike an optimistic note for these people.
“Engineering is uniquely positioned to optimize the fit between a customer’s needs and manufacturing. Unfortunately, much of the time spent is low-value activity. As such, engineering management would benefit from reducing the amount of low-value tactical support activity but increasing engineering’s influence on sales processes and solutions that are proposed to customers,” Jim Wilson, Cincom Program Director and author of the report, wrote in the press release.
According to the press release issued by Cincom, their study finds that although engineers spend a good portion of their time (32%) coming up with new product drawings to show to customers, their overall work week is typically taken up by an array of administrative tasks. These low-customer-value tasks include creating bills of material (14% of their time taken up), change orders (13%), product selection and configuration (10%), manufacturing changes in line (5 %), cost estimates (4%), pricing orders (4%) and post-order revisions (4%).
Although it is inevitable, as our society becomes more intellectually professional and powered by electronic technologies, that many manufacturing jobs are going to vanish, perhaps if business leaders and engineering managers heed this latest study by Cincom, they can better guide the productive manufacturing work that still remains in America.
Sources of information used to research this news story:
Cincom Systems (Marketwire), “Engineers Spend More Than Half Their Time on Low-Value Activity”