WASHINGTON--Despite intense hype, electronic commerce is barely being used by most small- and medium-sized manufacturing operations.

According to a survey by Ernst & Young and the National Association of Manufacturers, less than 1 percent of small- and medium-sized manufacturers are advanced users of e-commerce. Most of these manufacturers derived only 2 percent of their 1999 sales from the Internet.

Although most companies (72 percent) use the Internet to attract new customers, far fewer use it to streamline operations (46 percent) or find new suppliers (30 percent). And, less than 10 percent of manufacturers are connected electronically to more than half of their suppliers.

"Only 5 percent of respondents have the ability to view their suppliers' inventory levels," says Robert Neubert, national director of manufacturing industries services for Ernst & Young. "These companies report inventory turn rates that are 44 percent higher than the rates of companies without that ability. That's a considerable boost to cash flow and the bottom line."

For a copy of the survey, visit www.ey.com.