Identify the gaps between integrated supply chain requirements and the capabilities of SMEs.
Suggest strategies to assist SMEs in developing the capabilities required for successful participation.
This report is intended for the owners and managers of small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises and for the manufacturing extension centers and technical resource providers (MEC/TRPs) that support them.
The estimated 330,000 SMEs in the United States have a substantial economic impact. Defined as having fewer than 500 employees, SMEs are important to the nation because they account for 98 percent of all manufacturing plants, employ two-thirds of the nation's 18 million manufacturing workers, generate more than half of the total value-added in the manufacturing sector, and are the source of many innovations in technology.
SMEs typically provide capabilities that their larger customers do not have or cannot cost-effectively create, such as:
agility in responding to changes in technologies, markets, and trends
efficiency due, in part, to less bureaucracy
initiative and entrepreneurial behavior on the part of employees resulting in higher levels of creativity and energy and a greater desire for success
access to specialized proprietary technologies, process capabilities, and expertise
shorter time-to-market because operations are small and focused
lower labor costs and less restrictive labor contracts
spreading the costs of specialized capabilities over larger production volumes by serving multiple customers
lower cost, customer focused, and customized services, including documentation, after-sales support, spare parts, recycling, and disposal
The committee defined a supply chain as an association of customers and suppliers who, working together yet in their own best interests, buy,