Strong Growth in U.S. Manufacturing Brings Supply Chain, Other Challenges: Travelers

Manufacturing in the United States is in a growth phase, according to a survey by Travelers Insurance that found nearly three out of four executives in the manufacturing sector have either expanded their products or services in the past year, or plan to expand them in the coming year.

The IndustryEdge survey conducted by Travelers, which surveyed 200 general managers, directors, owners and partners from metals, food, and plastics manufacturers, confirms recent data indicating that 2012 was a record year for manufacturing revenues, and reinforces the positive expectations for 2013, according to the insurer.

The good news in the manufacturing sector brings challenges for risk managers and insurers.

“All of this growth presents tremendous opportunities – and a host of new hazards throughout the complex, interconnected global supply chain,” said Jim Mandes, manufacturing industry manager for Travelers Commercial Accounts. “Hazards may include less skilled workers, fewer suppliers to choose from and an increased potential for business interruptions.”

The survey reveals that 71 percent of companies are conducting sales outside of the United States and that 67 percent receive a quarter or more of their supplies from a single supplier.

“If a manufacturer is relying on a small number of suppliers, and those suppliers are faced with a temporary situation where they are unable to provide the materials – the manufacturer can suffer a significant decline in revenues,” Mandes said.

Finding and hiring qualified employees is a prominent issue for manufacturers, according to the survey. In the past year, 88 percent of surveyed decision makers in the manufacturing industry either hired new employees or made plans to hire in the next year.

Travelers offers an online pre-employment screening tool that assists employers in hiring.

“As new risks emerge for manufacturers, insurers like Travelers believe that the new landscape requires a more evolved view of global businesses,” said Mandes, adding that Travelers offers global options for manufacturers as well as domestic coverages.