It’s Top Shops Benchmarking Survey Time

Article From: Modern Machine Shop,

Posted on: 12/12/2012

Our ongoing benchmarking program enables you to compare your operation’s machining and financial metrics against similar businesses. Take part in the online survey that runs through February 15.


top shops benchmarking report example

Survey participants will receive free data reports that break down survey data by shop type (as shown in this example), number of employees and number of parts produced. An Executive Summary comparing data from the Top Shops benchmarking group with data from the other survey participants will also be available.

 2013 marks the third edition of our Top Shops benchmarking program. It kicks off this month with a new, streamlined online survey found here that runs through February 15.

Top Shops aims to identify optimal shopfloor practices as well as operational and business metrics that define world-class competitiveness in discrete parts manufacturing. By participating in the survey, you’ll be able to distinguish areas where your shop excels, and, more importantly, areas where you should focus your improvement efforts.

As with the past two surveys, this year’s version prompts for financial, process, equipment, business strategy and human resources information, and also includes a few open-ended questions we hope you’ll briefly answer. However, there are a couple of changes to this year’s survey that are worth noting.

First, we’re asking for data from only 2012, whereas previous surveys have prompted for information from the past couple of years. This will speed and simplify survey completion. Second, we’re not asking for specific financial figures, such as gross sales or net income. Instead, we ask shops to supply financial measures as more general percentages. Examples include annual sales growth rate, ratio of net income to gross sales, and ratio of capital equipment expenditure to gross sales. Our thought is that this will encourage greater participation from shops that aren’t inclined (or perhaps aren’t permitted) to provide specific, possibly confidential, financial figures. Even so, all survey responses will remain confidential.

Survey answers will enable us to generate a series of free data reports that will be sent only to those shops that participate in the survey. These reports will separate the survey data into categories so you can make apples-to-apples comparisons of like businesses. Data will be categorized by the type of machining business (job shop, contract shop or captive operation), number of employees on staff in 2012 and number of parts produced in 2012. In addition, we’ll create an Executive Summary that will compare responses from the Top Shops benchmarking group with those from the rest of the survey participants. This benchmarking group represents the top 20 percent of machining businesses, determined by totaling the points assigned to select business- and technology-related questions.

The reports will enable survey participants to compare shopfloor strategies and business approaches to similar companies so they can make sound decisions to emulate those identified as world-class operations. These reports will not only serve as a baseline “report card” of sorts, but also provide hard data that will eliminate the need to rely on gut feelings as a method of identifying and prioritizing improvement efforts. The only cost to you is the time it takes to complete the survey.

Top Shops Honors Program

The second element of Top Shops is an Honors Program that highlights a handful of the most successful participating companies in the benchmarking group, identified by responses to survey questions and follow-up interviews by me. Those shops will be profiled in our special August 2013 Top Shops benchmarking issue and accompanying digital magazine edition. Survey participants can opt out of the Honors Program if they choose. However, if you do want to be considered for the Honors Program, we ask that you provide as much detail as possible in the survey to give your company its best shot at being selected as a Top Shop for 2013.

Online Resources and Discussion

Our Top Shops Zone provides access to the Executive Summary from last year’s survey, articles about key 2012 survey findings and profiles of the Honors Program winners for 2012. That Zone also includes the concise Top Shops 2012 digital magazine edition that provides an overview of our Top Shops benchmarking survey findings and includes a number of videos.

In addition, we’ve created a Top Shops LinkedIn group for decision-makers in North American machining facilities. That includes shop owners, managers, engineers, programmers and other senior personnel. For now, we are limiting the group to only these people—Modern’s target readership. As of mid-December, the group has approximately 750 members. Click here to join the group.

Complete the Survey

More than 500 shops completed at least a portion of our 2012 Top Shops survey, and we’re hoping for even greater participation in 2013. The website will remain open through February 15, and we hope you’ll take part in it. Participants also have the option of filling out the survey by hand and faxing or mailing it to us. A pdf of the survey can be downloaded from the survey site with instructions for doing that.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at

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