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Bring Back Manufacturing … But Not the Old Way

By Joseph Timmins

Manufacturing changed our country and the world, but the height of that was nearly a century ago. Today our society is driven by consumers purchasing the manufactured goods – cars, textiles, furniture – to name just a few. Unfortunately, most things are no longer manufactured in the U.S., even though Americans still do the most purchasing. Loss of our manufacturing jobs and economy has come at a great cost to local communities and individual consumers.

Some have argued that it's simply not feasible for manufacturing jobs and companies to remain here. That it's more practical to send these vital jobs – and the tax revenues they generate – elsewhere.

picture of the American flag with wavy texture.jpegThe truth is somewhere in the middle. High volume, low price consumer goods manufacturing has pretty much fallen by the wayside, and thinking this will come back is unrealistic. Between competitive labor and automation, it’s a different manufacturing world that's too costly for domestic use.

But a new kind of manufacturing can arise from its ashes – back home.

You might argue that companies hoping to return manufacturing to the USA face insurmountable challenges, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

Here’s what companies must do to bring manufacturing home.

The Right Product

Complicated decision – but consider the on-shore advantages of low volume, sophisticated, higher quality, larger (shipping) MTO products versus off-shore high volume, low cost, low margin, small MTS products, etc. Many manufacturers have already figured this out – and it’s not likely to change.

Work Smarter

Working smarter means you need to closely examine your methods and come up with lean ways of manufacturing. Examine your current procedures, processes, and costs to eliminate redundancy, automate, and reduce waste. When you can do this without sacrificing quality, you can consider in-house manufacturing or domestic subcontracting.

Make Data-driven Decisions

Look at the raw data before making changes or deciding to go with the status quo. Consult available data before making a decision based on intuition or insufficient data. If you don’t have the data, get a better ERP system.

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Never Stop Seeking New Tools to Improve

Improvement can be revolutionary, but more commonly it’s evolutionary. Take maximum advantage of people’s knowledge and involvement to improve and clarify your manufacturing processes. Do this over time. When people understand roles and responsibilities, your business will run more smoothly.

Finally, choose an ERP system that's intuitive, easy-to-use, and fits seamlessly into your organization. This will help manage resources, disseminate information, and clarify your business performance. It may even make you a competitive domestic manufacturer!

Have questions about how this can work for you, or how you can go about getting an ERP system for your business? Please contact the experts at Acuity for more information.

Topics: manufacturing, lean

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