Spreading the word about manufacturing beyond the choir

August 15, 2012
By: Vicki Bell

Have you read the article “A moral argument for manufacturing?” If you haven’t, please do, and if you agree with the author’s premise that the only way to really change the landscape for manufacturing in the U.S. is to bring the moral argument for its existence to the collective consciousness, then please share this article with others.

I spoke with the article's author, Jim O’Leary, yesterday. We had a nice chat about his article, the business he works for, and how much faith he has in this country’s ability to right its manufacturing ship.

Jim related the story of how his company took business away from China. One factor that contributed to the company gaining the business was shipping. In this fast-paced marketplace, shipping times are critical.

The customer is saving money by not having to send engineers to China to iron out problems with its old suppliers—something that happened frequently.

Since Jim's company first was awarded the contract, it’s reduced its cost to manufacture the parts by 35 percent. Just took some Yankee-ingenuity.

It’s a win-win situation for Jim’s company, the customer, and ultimately the U.S., as you’ll learn if you read the article.

What Jim described is happening more and more throughout the U.S. Last week, my colleague, Dan Davis, included a link in his blog post “Crazy to think things are getting better?” to an m.industryweek.com article that addressed a rebound in domestic manufacturing from offshore locations. According to a new report by CoreNet Global, an association of corporate real estate executives, jobs will be coming back to the U.S. from offshore locations through 2020.

Fifty-one percent of corporate real estate asset managers either agreed or strongly agreed that there will be a rebound in domestic manufacturing from offshore locations. The recovery will be driven “both by companies bringing manufacturing plants and jobs back to the U.S. or choosing not to offshore in the first place.

"'On-shoring in the U.S. will continue to gain steam due to changing global cost and supply chain dynamics,' said Dennis Donovan, principal with WDG Consulting. 'The U.S. and its manufacturing base is more competitive than at any time in a generation.'"

The website environmentalleader.com today published an article with the headline “Manufacturers bring production in-house to protect against natural disasters.” This article is about UK-based manufacturers; two-fifths of those who responded to an EEF survey are bringing production back in-house, and one-fourth have increased their use of local suppliers.

“As manufacturing and its supply chains have become increasingly globalized, business continuity risks have increased. Companies have reported damage to productivity, revenue and orders from a range of local, international and economic disruptions to their supply chains over the past two years.

“For example, Bridgestone halted production for a time at five of its Tokyo-based plants in 2011 following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

“As a result of recent disruptions, a third of companies sees supply chain management as a business critical issue worthy of board level attention and 60 percent of companies monitor their immediate suppliers, EEF says.”

Yes, the survey polled UK manufacturers, but supply chain management concerns are no less important in the U.S., and domestic manufacturers no doubt are taking the same steps as their counterparts across the pond.

So, it does appear, as Jim said yesterday, that things are turning around ever so slowly, but more can be done. That’s where you come in. If you read Jim’s article and believe its message is worth sharing, then post the link on Facebook, e-mail it to people, or print the article out and hand it to others if you want. The important thing is to get the message out beyond thefabricator.com’s audience ( the choir, so to speak) that manufacturing is of vital importance to everyone in the U.S.—not just those of us involved in the industry.

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Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209