Posting in Design
Conventional wisdom says China is losing its outsource manufacturing edge due to rising worker wages. But technology advances in North America are dramatically lowering domestic manufacturing costs.
In recent times, there have been a number of studies and opinions released speculating that manufacturing is shifting away from China and back to North American shores simply because Chinese worker wages are rising, reducing the competitiveness of outsourced manufacturing in that locale.
Robotics: "The factory assembly that China is currently performing is child's play compared to the next generation of robots -- which will soon become cheaper than human labor." Many Chinese plants are also installing robots to remain competitive with US-based plants. But shipping costs may become a differentiator -- the closer the process is to markets, the cheaper.
Artificial intelligence: "AI technologies will find their way into manufacturing and make it 'personal': that we will be able to design our own products at home with the aid of AI design assistants." Wadhaw says we are entering a "creator economy" in which "mass production is replaced by personalized production, with people customizing designs they download from the Internet or develop themselves."
3D printing: As the "creator economy" emerges, the means of production moves closer to home, if not into the home itself, through cheap, widely available 3D printers. Manufacturing plants also are beginning to take advantage of 3D printing on a larger scale.
Wadhwa also cites additional technologies on the horizon that are changing the face of manufacturing, including nanotechnology that makes it possible "to create products that are stronger, lighter, more energy-efficient, and more durable than existing manufactured goods." In addition, a new field -- "molecular manufacturing -- will take this one step further and make it possible to program molecules inexpensively, with atomic precision." Molecules to manufacturing will be what bits currently are to computing.
(Photo: US Navy via Wikimedia.)
Jul 25, 2012
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Chinese stealing technology located manufacturing plants in China! Damn. http://dulichtructuyen.net/du-lich-singapore/
The reasoen why I think so is that, compare other country, china is very large and big, and give its plant economic scale , the person in china is more worker hard, usually 50 hours per week or more. They spent more time in studing and wroking, it is the culture of east asia. For example, www.sangongvalve.com this company increasing it's businese quickly. Nowdays, chinese are in a trend to have hugh enthuastic creat wealth.
New tech that displaces workers will only work if world population declines, and tech advanced countries tend to have low birthrates.
This years drought will make it so China can't buy up all of our corn. What about wood, and all the other products that leave the USA for the Chinese to make there cheap products. these raw materials should be taxed high enough to spark a fair trade with manufacturing. When corn reaches $90.00 a barrel full i'll be happy. Oil is pumped out of the ground, corn takes months, good weather, vast costs in fuel, etc equipment labor etc, fair is fair. equal the prices of our products with China, no more Mr. Nice guy. The new war is the balance of money.
I'd like to see it, with the quality and craftsmanship that went with it in the past. Just be sure it puts people back to work so they can buy the items.
An article recentlt published in Barrons or Business Week cited that manufacturing jobs today require one worker when in the past, I believe, four workers were required, which is why the share today of GDP for manufacturing is the same or slightly greater than in the past, but the job numbers are much lower. Ths sad term for this is productivity. As to the quip about Romney..I am not concerned about the past (albeit the steel mill that DID grow, was in the US, Remember who was appointed to , I believe, the SEC, or similar, when it was first established..Joseph Kennedy..Why? He knew where the skeletons were buried.. I believe (my mind is slowly going as I get older..the job description for President is slightly different from eguity investor..but in the end, if congress doesn't change, will the preidency even matter?
I think this is great and I believe that not only is this possible but the groundwork has begun. There will always be jobs, just different jobs. Maintenance of the robots, material acquisition, etc. As far as patent infringement goes, it's only if you are selling someone else' work that this applies. If you make it for yourself than there is no problem. I agree that not everybody will be able to create, but the tech is here on a small scale and will be on a much more evolved scale in the near future. There is a web site called "Instructables", it is amazing in it's variety of DIY(do it yourself projects). All the direction is there, what tools and material to use, etc. People by and large are creative and I think that there will be ground-breaking discoveries made in the near future, from people who did not pay a fortune to go to university. Society will decide the direction it wants to go. Free the mind and anything is possible.
Hold your mouse over the US Navy photo of a jet fighter being assembled and you will see that it is Copyright 1988! Yeah, that certainly illustrates how US companies are using the latest technology to drive down costs and raise productivity. Terry Thomas... the photographer Atlanta, Georgia USA
I just read a bunch of the commentary here and many people have said that Chinese products are crap. Wow, what a fat headed silly statement. A person has to be quite blind to not notice you tend to get what you pay for. Americans manufacture junk too. Black and Decker is an example of that. They make high end reasonably reliable products and others that really are rubbish, all depending on how deep your pockets are. I see similar good/bad products come out of Mexico and other countries. Back to China, I have tools made in China that work well and have had others that were disapointing. What is most disapopinting for me as a Canadian is to see large American corporations buy up companies like Inglis and move them across the line, losing jobs in my country. Then they close down that company and reduce the competition between brands. Any Americans ever notice that? As American purchasers of products made in your country do you not recognize that lack of competition makes for reduced quality and lack of choices.
If everything is going to be robotic, then bringing the work back to the US won't provide many jobs. I just don't get how supposedly 'smart' people who make these decisions don't see that outsourcing everything will come back to bite you. Have some foresight!! No jobs, no money, no consumers, no economy. DOH!
The title should be: "3 reasons it would be nice for US to capture manufacturing from China" Where do we get the robots? From China?
Here are a few other world economic factors that belie the decision to outsource vs. locally produce. Shipping cost of finished goods vs. high cost of local production. High labor costs often drive the decision to outsource manufactured goods that are offset by the relatively cheap cost of shipping. We have a robust shipping system that makes the economics workable. Why is it cheaper and more economical for a frozen food producer to import Chinese grown produce from China, than it is for a local farmer to grow and deliver the same product? Manufacturing of mass market products by robots vs. humans. Human labor for mechanized products is easily supplanted by less costly robotic processes. Robots do the same thing reliably over and over and stay healthy for the most part. No insurance, no healthcare, no retirement. Population growth of consumers vs. producers. The demand for products grows while the ability to produce shrinks. Our education system doesn't lend itself to sophisticated worker/producers, but rather an ever expanding cadre of people who have limited skills for an ever diminishing job market. This drives down the cost of labor by making jobs more competitive. Businesses can now afford to pay highly skilled workers less because there are more of them looking for any kind of meaningful work.
Let's face it. The only way we'll get our manufacturing sector back here in the U.S. is when it's profitable for manufacturers to bring it back. More than any other reason, I think manufacturing jobs will return to the U.S. as the cost of energy increases. China may have us beat on cheap labor for the time being, but we have more energy resources than China, and because it takes energy to make and move the goods from there to here, and manufacturing and transportation energy costs will be lower for U.S. made goods, it will once again become profitable to make goods here in the U.S. I'd like to think manufacturing jobs would return to the U.S. because Americans realize that goods made in China are crap, but I don't know that the American buyer is smart enough to look past the price of something, and U.S. retailers like Walmart and Lowes aren't going to give them the chance anyway. I'd like to think that our politicians would pass legislation to spur the reopening of factories here, but we know we can't count on that from "Mitt the Outsourcer", and I don't really see too much more than lip service from our current president. Every time the price goes up to fill up your gas tank, think of the silver lining - manufacturing jobs returning to our shores.
Reality of job market mfg "returning to USA" is simply most "mfg jobs" are just assembling off shore high value products into low value USA mfg assembly/sub-assembly by lower paid workers. Auto is classic example when Congress had mfg's post NUMBER OF USA PARTS in auto, rather then VALUE of USA PARTS, aka one USA-bolt=one computer/radio.Generally our work force has become nonunion, low wages, often lower or if there, unaffordable benefits, retirement, etc, workers wages will not support such luxury, States competing with each other n tax free, no unions, tax credits, "Incentives" (which foul up tax base/services and citizens make up delta) to get some mfg to set up low wage shops there. I would guess the most "new jobs in mfg" are in 20-25K/year range with little real world benefits, nonunion, simple "assembly" not mfg shops. We can blame selves as work force undeducated to compete at world class jobs/mfg. Nasty reality folks, but that is USA future, major tourist destination and cheap labor for mfg assembly plants.
about returning MFG from China to US - aside from Quality , we need it back, to create job oportunities again in USA. 12 years ago - some congress man tried to avoid this problem , but , investors did not listen to them . Now is time to get back our job oportunities.
Its about time the manufacturing arm of the USA moved back home. Everything we buy from China is junk. Things do not last more than a year or two you can't repair it. Washing machines from Mexico last two years at best, dryers a year or so, TV's two years, they put weilding material in devices to make them fail in short periods of use. Its the biggest scam of this Century. We should have never gave any country our techology.
we need more jobs along with the return of manufacturing other wise it does not mater.jobs that can feed a family ,feed the community ,and cerate other jobs .till then we as a nation are still screwed
He previously was (and probably still is) a fan of job outsourcing and crowdsourcing, to cheapest global labor costs, nevermind the brain drain that it would cause, and the cut in real GDP by downward wage movement in higher wage nations. If you wanted to create a structural employment problem, this was the way to go. For him to talk about the miracle of technology that would make US manufacturing competitive...well that's years behind. I made that argument three years ago as 3D printers were first becoming mainstream. He's Johnny come lately.
1. 3D printing - how will patents and licensing be affected if I can rip off any creator's content in our "creator economy"? 2. So robots are coming here. Our economy depends on people spending, or at least tax money subsidizing, bailing out, and propping up corporations. Either which one is "corporate welfare". Robots don't spend. 3. AI - see point 1 above for more, noting that 3D printers will be using oil - you know, that substance that - finite or not - might not replenish itself fast enough. The article lacks details and demands we have faith while pretending some real life issues pertinent to our man-made paradigm don't exist. Especially that pesky wages/spending/corporate welfare issue that is at sheer odds with "free market" principles... Also, a "creative economy" has one downfall... if you recall, there's a reason why it's termed "starving artist" and it's not because the artist is sub-par with his or her talents...
Great article!! I work for McGladrey and there is an annual report on the website about the state of manufacturing in the US that readers may find interesting. @ https://bitly.com/IzVhuU
Yours is the only response that shows that someone understands the article and the implications. I am also involved in DIY and it combines personal creativity with enteprenual thinking. There is one thing that Chinese manufacturing can do and that is to put a small army of workers together almost overnight to scale up production of almost anything. This everything from the production line workers to the equipment on the production line. They have highly skilled engineers who can take an idea and turn it into a product at a low cost. The down side to this is that quality is not a prime consideration unless it is specified. The US used to be known for "Yankee ingenuity" and it is sad that the statement is past tense. The DIY movement is a way to free up that old yankee ingenuity and build new things from the ground up. If you want a robot, you can build one for yourself. You want a 3 D printer, you can also build one for yourself. The great thing about the DIY movement is that it is more cooperative and shares ideas that benefit a wider group than thetypical corporate way. If there was a way for a group of DIY types to get together and do rapid prototyping into rapid production with good quality then it will bring inexpensive products with good quality back.
Which leaves us with the big question, who is going to afford the products? Not the cheap labor force that is for sure.
No real jobs coming home. The article to me paints a abysmal future for a lot of the population not a better one. Nothing new this seems to be the norm not the exception. Even our military uses so many foreign parts reminds me of the Romans outsourcing their military toward the end. Not saying we are the Roman Empire at the end of its life just saying we as a society love to hear fantasies about how its all going to be better in the future and just watch our kids will have it better when all indications show its going to be a minority enjoying the fruits of the many.
Because we aren't experts in specific technical fields, if technical fields at all, we often seek advice from "experts" that often have little relative experience on the subject/problem at hand. Thus articles like this one.
Next to biofuels and cold fusion - 3-D printing has been one of the most over-hyped, under performing technologies for the last decade. It has small specific applications especially in tool and die making part of manufacturing, but even there it has to compete with 3-D milling CAD programs that are often more cost effective especially in non-polymeric materials. People don't seem to understand that the 3-D printing techniques are severely limited by material purity, energy and costs - polymer printers are the most economically efficient which as you note are a petroleum derivative. Any product that requires multi-materials and or high heat formed materials - ceramics, glass, metals, become increasingly complex, problematic and expensive to "print" dramatically limiting their range of economic application. It isn't technical feasibility that limits 3-D printings broader application - it's basic economics. Printing material costs alone will continue to prevent 3-D printing from being economically feasible for most applications. AI is such a generic term. Computers are already AI by definition. We are one of, if not the leading developer of software in general - the basis for AI and it hasn't saved our economy from China, who has actually economically leveraged it against us with debt. Your comments on the lack of economic balance - costs/disposable income with robotic production strikes at the root of our current economic problems. The corporate owned US gov. has either replaced workers with robots, or just out-sourced labor to cheaper economies and the only way those jobs are ever going to come back is when the economic balance - wage competition is a level playing field. The level of economic ignorance in the US avg. citizen is only exceeded by their scientific ignorance - the root problem of our all national decline. Creativity has never been in short supply in the US. What has been is not only the ability to protect intellectual property internationally, but functional economic processes for effectively connecting creativity with responsible capital investment. Currently capital flow to creativity - start-ups in the US is at an all time low primarily because of the expense and economics of "professionally" managed capital. Capital management firms require large numbers to justify their overhead and fees - which inherently mean small start-up projects are avoided. It's going to take more than 3-D printing and artificial intelligence to get around this economic paradigm.
I love DIY and come from a long line of people with high mechanical aptitudes. However, I make a living as scientist/problem solver. Most problems can be reduced to economics and late in life I now wished I had taken more economics courses in my education. DIY only saves expenses and it assumes that you already have a satisfactory base income that supports DIY project materials. While DIY may up sales at HD and Lowes it doesn't really do anything for the general economy - after all you're only replacing another product/service and substituting some of your spare time to augment your income. Essentially DIY is another form of a second job and an indication that the economy can't support you with one job.