Americanmachinist 929 79347brucepng00000051954

Its Time For the Annual American Machinist Benchmarking Survey

March 25, 2008
American Machinist launched its third annual survey of the U.S. Machine Shop Industry on Feb. 13; and, once again, we’re asking you to help the industry and yourself by taking the survey. It is available at ( through March 28. ...
American Machinist launched its third annual survey of the U.S. Machine Shop Industry on Feb. 13; and, once again, we’re asking you to help the industry and yourself by taking the survey.

It is available at ( through March 28.

As in previous years, the survey is anonymous, and asks for detailed information on how shops are working to improve their efficiency and competitiveness. Even if you’ve participated in the past, the survey is an excellent way to track your improvement against industry standards.

As we did in previous years, we will provide the data we receive, along with key findings, right back to the industry. Responses we’ve received from readers since we started this project indicate the information is needed and valuable.

With this third sampling, we are building a library of data that will make the information tools derived from the survey more useful.

The data we received allows you to compare your shop’s operations to industry benchmarks, and make the changes that you see are necessary to improve. We began this project in 2006 because we couldn’t find anything like it to help measure the performance of a machine shop, and this is the only source for such information.

The idea behind the survey is to establish a comprehensive and comparative performance database you can use to identify strengths and weaknesses. It’s the starting point in the wellrecognized, four-step process for shop improvement:

  1. Measure your current state.
  2. Compare yourself to others (benchmark) so you know exactly what to improve for maximum impact.
  3. Execute the improvement project.
  4. Measure again, so you can see how well you did and how it paid off.
And, of course, then you start the whole process again.

For the most part, many of the benchmarks might reinforce what you already know about your business. But with this objective data, you will have credible evidence to confirm what now may be a gut feeling – and you’ll know exactly how far to go in fixing a problem before reaching the point of diminishing returns. In addition, the data also may challenge what you think, prompting you take a second look at results that are contrary to your instincts.

This survey process sets the groundwork for being globally competitive. If you want to compete, you had better know where you are, so that you can figure out where you have to go next.

As in previous years, our survey will take a little time, and it is likely that it will require you to calculate some things that you don’t have at your fingertips. We ask some challenging questions – the kind you often choose not to answer – and we hope you’ll join the shops who answered them in years past.

As we did last year, we guarantee you the opportunity to participate anonymously, and still receive a valuable benchmark summary.

Nominate your shop as a “Best Shop”
Along with the survey, you may provide contact information, and, in doing so, enter your shop into American Machinist’s 10 Best Machine Shops awards program. Even then, your information remains confidential, and no one will be able to compare directly against you. They’ll only be able to compare themselves vs. industry aggregates.

Of course, if you are one of this year’s winners, we hope you’ll be willing to tell our readers about some of your exemplary performances.

Our Best Shops competition is tough. We have had some of the finest machine shops in the United States participate in the program, and it has been difficult to determine which 10 we’ll honor.

However, naming 10 shops as “The Best” is not the only reason we launched that program. We want to be able to provide definitive examples of shops that are doing well, to encourage other shops to live up to those examples and as proof that you can be successful in this business.

We will name our 10 Best Machine Shops for 2008 as a part of our second Machine Shop Workshop at the Double Tree Hotel Chicago in Oak Brook, Ill., Nov. 12 through Nov. 14.

Again, you can find the survey at (www. or through our website: (www., and we ask that you fill it out on-line.

It will be available until March 28. Taking the time to fill it out will land you a new tool that never gets dull.

Bruce Vernyi
Editor-in-Chief b[email protected]