I routinely have parts made by machine shops, as well as build them on my own. I recently sent for RFQ, a set of very simple parts to a USA based machine shop. They returned a quote that was so outrageous, it is making think China is the only way. For example, that same USA based shop quoted me a part in the past around $13 USD, where a China company quoted me $5 USD. I went with the USA shop, since I want to support domestic growth.
But with the most recent quote, I have no choice but to go China.
Most USA shops I send RFQs to give me high priced quotes. Sometime, their prices are so high that they refuse to quote me at all. It isn't worth their time.
Until prices come down domestically, decline is the only direction.
I think there is a growing consensus among business leaders that it's important to have an agile supply chain -- and that ocean freight is not agile. Relying on large shipments of parts that come via container ship from another continent makes it difficult to respond quickly to a changing business environment. There is a big advantage in being close to your customer base.
This is causing many companies to refocus on North America -- but not necessarily the U.S. For instance, Cardinal Health, a major medical supply manufacturer, recently decided to relocate one of its assembly plants from the Chicago area to Mexico. This provides them with continued proximity to U.S. customers, and increased proximity to emerging markets in Latin America. Probably most important from Cardinal's point of view, it lowers their labor costs.
U.S. manufacturing has a lot of potential advantages (including quality, as Nancy pointed out). But, unfortunately, many corporate leaders still don't know the difference between price and cost. They haven't learned that lo barato sale caro ("cheap" is expensive).
The U.S. will never be able to compete as a "low-cost country;" at least, not if we want to maintain our standard of living. The only way the U.S. will be able to compete as a manufacturing country is by providing a better overall value than other countries. This means world-class quality, among other things.
Over the next few years, we'll see whether or not we're up to the challenge.
That's great that you shop locally, Ann - we try to do the same. My husband's father owned a bicycle shop so we have a deep appreciation for people supporting local businesses. There is always the temptation of going into a brick and mortar store to gather information from the expertise of the employees working there, and then leaving without purchasing anything and buying the same product for less online. We don't mind paying more (within reason) because we know we are supporting their business and they provided us with a service in addition to the product, with their time and knowledge. Unfortunately with the advent of online shopping that is both convenient and often cheaper because they don't have a real storefront, these small business are becoming fewer and fewer...and we are losing something irreplaceable in the process.
Good for you, Nancy! I try to do the same as a consumer, and better yet, to shop locally. But living in a rural area means that a lot of things I want to buy aren't available locally. That, combined with the "volume is king" attitude of many chains with local operations means I end up buying more and more stuff online. That "volume is king" attitude makes no sense on the local small scale. Local businesses should be tailoring their wares to local shoppers. Many of the independents do, but not the chain stores.
I do the same, Ann, with my portable trail obstacles for horses business. We design and make our products out of furniture-grade pvc that is manufactured here in the United States. We refuse to compromise the safety of our products in our specific application by going overseas. It has definitely affected the cost and driven it up, which affects marketability and sales - but folks who research the product understand the quality that they are purchasing.
From a consumer standpoint, I find this article very hopeful. I am really tired of purchasing substandard products that do not meet athe same QC requirements for products manufactured in the U.S. For multiple reasons, this is very encouraging news indeed!
It would also make a big difference if US-based manufacturers bought supplies and services in the US. Yesterday I interviewed a small US manufacturer who does exactly that: buys all materials and services used in his business from US suppliers, instead of buying cheaper stuff from China. That even includes local banking.
"If the promises made by both parties in the recent election hold true, the investment will be there."
You do understand that this is one of the most hilarious lines I have read in a while. If a politician's lips are moving, they are 100% lying! Even the honest candidate turns once in office as a politician. And with our current president not able to turn in a budget on time (four years in a row) and the Senate leadership not able to pass a budget in over 4 years, that the hilarity of this line is more damming!
What I did find encouraging is the Walmart moves. If big corporations that are headquartered in the US would seek more US made goods to sell, this may revive the economy in spite of the politicians.
A middle school team from Rochester, Mich., has again nabbed the grand prize in the annual international Future City Competition, which drew students from 37 regions of the United States, as well as from England and China.
The word “smart” is becoming the dumbest word around. It has been applied to almost every device and system in our homes. In addition to smartphones and smart meters, we now hear about smart clothing and smart shoes, smart lights, smart homes, smart buildings, and every trendy city today has its smart city project. Just because it has a computer inside and is connected to the Web, does not mean it is smart.
Are you being paid enough? Do you want a better job? According to a recent survey Manpower released just before Engineers Week, employers and engineers don't see eye-to-eye about the state of US engineers' skills and experience.
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