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Engineering Management Actions Taken And Changes Made By Manufacturers To Become More Competitive

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Frontiers in Engineering Management

Tagged Division

Engineering Management

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.492.1 - 15.492.14



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Paper Authors


William Loendorf Eastern Washington University

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William R. Loendorf is currently an Associate Professor of Engineering & Design at Eastern Washington University. He obtained his B.Sc. in Engineering Science at the University of Wisconsin - Parkside, M.S. in Electrical Engineering at Colorado State University, M.B.A. at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, and Ph.D. in Engineering Management at Walden University. He holds a Professional Engineer license and has 30 years of industrial experience as an Engineer or Engineering Manager at General Motors, Cadnetix, and Motorola. His interests include engineering management, technological literacy, and real-time embedded systems.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Engineering Management Actions Taken and Changes Made by Manufacturers to Become More Competitive


Remaining competitive in today's economic climate is a formidable task for all organizations. It is especially so for smaller organizations classified as job shops. For them the problem is even more complex due to limited resources including capital, equipment, and personnel. Many engineering management actions and changes have proven effective and are available for them to use. However, what are they actually doing to become more competitive? To answer that question a study was conducted in 2008 into one basic type of job shop; the American tool and die shops that fabricate molds, dies, and tools vital to the manufacturing process. The intent was to find out how they are reacting to the globalization of the tooling industry. The emphasis was on the methods, procedures, and processes that have already proven effective by American tool shops to enhance quality, increase efficiency, and streamline operations. This information is significant because it has an established record of success when implemented in real-world competitive situations and must be covered in the management courses included in the engineering and engineering technology curriculum. The findings indicate that American tool shops are using innovative technologies, updating machinery, and instituting new strategies. The tool shops making this transition are the adaptors creating new competitive advantages by revising their strategies to reflect competitive changes, offering products fitting into unique niches, supplying specialized customer services, and providing rapid delivery. The results from this study have been incorporated into engineering and engineering technology courses to better prepare graduates for careers in engineering management for manufacturing based industries.


Foreign competition has had an extremely negative impact on American manufacturing in terms of cheaper and in some cases poorer quality tools. “Nearly three million manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2000…. The estimate … is that by the end of the decade, China’s expansion in tool and die could cause the loss of 900,000 industrial jobs in the U.S.” (Moncrieff22, 2006, p. 3). Because the tooling industry utilizes a substantial technological component built upon an underlying engineering base the impact of these job losses would be extremely detrimental to the entire American industrial sector in terms of its intellectual capacity, skilled workforce, and ability to compete successfully.

A lack of resources at most tool shops makes it difficult to remain competitive (Michigan Economic Development Corporation21, 2005). Since limited time, manpower, and capital are available to work on these critical business issues quick fixes that may or may not actually improve the situation are often implemented (Summers25, 2005). “However, these quick fixes are just that – a quick fix of a problem for the short term; they simply allow time for a long-term solution to be found” (Summers25, 2005, p. 290). Due to the lack of resources, many of these band-aid solutions are likely to become permanent.

Loendorf, W. (2010, June), Engineering Management Actions Taken And Changes Made By Manufacturers To Become More Competitive Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16492

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