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Lean Manufacturing in the United States - Articles Surfing
There has been a lot of press in recent years about the death of the manufacturing sector in the U.S. Many large manufacturers have closed manufacturing facilities here in the U.S. and reopened them overseas, in countries with cheap labor such as China, India and the Philippines.
For some companies this strategy has worked well * but not for everyone.
There can be problems with long-distance manufacturing. For example, there can be language problems and cultural differences which can be costly and time-consuming to correct. An example is an animation producer who wanted a scene in which a cat is thrown into a lake and comes sputtering to the surface. The foreign animators thought the scene would play much better if the cat were tossed into the lake, a few bubbles came to the surface, and the cat drowned.
Getting this scene reshot so it was acceptable to an American audience was costly not only in terms of dollars but * even worse for the producer * also in terms of a missed air-date. And such problems are not uncommon.
If you have a proprietary manufacturing method, or if you own a patent, then you also may wish to think twice about shipping production overseas. As an example we will use a threaded insert as a product. In some parts of the world it is hardly considered wrong to pass along proprietary methods to other manufacturers * in fact, it can be considered patriotic to do so.
And what happens if you have a patent? When your patent runs out you have already set up your own competition. You have taught them how to manufacturer your product and have in effect provided them with all of the plans and prototypes they need to go into immediate production and run you out of business.
Consider, too, the ever-increasing cost of energy and shipping. Threaded inserts are one of the least costly per item to ship. How much longer is it going to be economically-beneficial to ship your products half way around the world to get them to market? Might it be more cost-effective to cut shipping costs and reconsider manufacturing at home?
So what is the answer? How can you manufacture your products in the U.S. and remain competitive? The answer is productivity. In other words, you must learn lean manufacturing techniques.
Cut the fat. This may mean paring back or even eliminating middle management altogether. Every position in your company must produce a profit. If every worker is pulling his or her own weight then your business should show a healthy profit. If not, then cut all non-essential and marginal positions.
Automate. Most manufacturing procedures can be partially or even totally automated. Automation results in greater productivity and greater productivity results in lower prices and better competition * even when competing with foreign manufacturers.
So think lean. Streamline every aspect of your manufacturing process and keep control of your product and your manufacturing techniques by rooting your business firmly right here in the U.S. of A.
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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