The 2007 (2nd annual) American Machinist Benchmarking Survey is now online; we ask you, our readers, to fill it out. The survey is important. It's the only resource machine shops have to compare their operations with peers and competitors. We conducted this survey for the first time last year, and more than 300 of you participated. This time around, we'd like to have an even larger pool of respondents, which will allow more detail in answering questions for shops that do mainstream milling and turning as well as for those with niche specialties. Everyone who takes the survey will receive an executive summary of the data, which you can use to improve day-to-day operations and competitiveness. Reader feedback from last year's study told us the information was needed and valuable.
We have adjusted some of the questions, based on reader feedback. This year's study digs deeper in some areas and moves away from others, in response to what you told us was important. On the whole, though, if you filled it out last year, you'll find that this year's survey is largely the same.
With this second sampling, we will begin to build a library of information that shows how machine shops are changing over time — making the information tools derived from the survey more useful.
The data allows you to compare your shop's operations to industry benchmarks —giving a clear picture of where you're doing well, and areas where improvement will deliver the most benefit.
The idea behind the survey is to establish standardized information that will set you on a path to the well-recognized, four-step process for business improvement:
- Measure your processes so you know where you stand.
- Compare it to others (benchmarking) so you know what's good and what's not.
- Plan for improvement, by focusing on the opportunities that promise the largest gain.
- Measure again, so you can see how well you did, how well it paid off, and what to work on next. If you feel pressure from competition around the world, following this process is the first step. Using our data makes it possible. Filling out the survey provides the data.
The survey is detailed, and won't be easy to complete. It probably will require you to calculate figures that you don't have at your fingertips. But you'll be taking the first step to improve your processes and to become more competitive.
We ask some impertinent questions —the kind you often choose not to disclose; we hope you'll join the shops who answered them last year.
We guarantee that your information will be treated as confidential; it will be reported only in aggregate, so you and everyone else will be able to compare against reliable industry averages.
Best Machine Shops
The survey is anonymous. But you will find a chance to provide your contact information at the end. By doing so, you will automatically nominate yourself for our 2nd annual Best Machine Shops award program.
If you choose to you provide your contact information, all of the operating data will still be held in confidence.
We have, in this issue, an article that includes comments from our first class of Best Machine Shops honorees. If you'd like to know what this program is about and what it has meant to them, you'll find the answers on Page 26.
I hope you'll take the survey; you can find it at: www.ambsurvey.com. You can fill it out online, or you can print it out and fax or mail it in. The survey will be available until March 12, and however you decide to do it, taking the time to fill it out will provide you with a new tool to run your business better.