Supply chains reach around the world but in this first blog, since the upcoming conference is in my home town, I am going to focus on what is going on here at home. Reading the news so many proclaim that American manufacturing is gone, never to return. The numbers certainly are frightening. In just the last 10 years, America has lost more than 2 million manufacturing jobs. The unemployment rate in manufacturing continues at double digits today. This same situation is found in several countries around the world especially in Europe.
Yet other signs point to a possible resurgence. A small trickle of manufacturing jobs are now returning to the US. Politicians on both sides of the aisle want that trend to accelerate. Manufacturing is becoming central to the presidential election debate, and reports are daily touting even these smallest improvements.
Significant numbers of good manufacturing jobs can and will return if America takes five steps. This blog will describe the first step.
Step 1 – Define American manufacturing’s FUBO
The world has changed. America’s manufacturing base must make serious, fundamental changes to survive. To continue to polish the same old rules, policies, and methods will get American manufacturing nowhere. Analyzing big data with the most sophisticated analytics software cannot possibly provide different answers if the questions remain the same.
China’s success in manufacturing is not just about low wages but rather its sheer size. Apple sourced its latest production to China not just because of labor rates but also the number of engineers that could be hired in less than a week. The same kind of ramp up would have taken a year in the US – if it could have happened at all.
The key question American manufacturers must ask is this: What is First, Unique, Best, or Only (FUBO) about American manufacturing? What can American manufacturing offer than China or other places can’t?
Trends show that high-skill, high-tech manufacturing could regain a foothold here in the US. Growing demand for alternative energy and alternative vehicles promises other opportunities for American manufacturers.
American manufacturing companies have the advantage of being closest to the world’s largest consuming nation – the US. As transportation costs continue to rise, the ability to sense and adapt to that market’s demands becomes increasingly important for competitiveness.