Manufacturing in America far from dead, industry experts maintain

One analyst argues that lean principles in manufacturing operations and other practices used by U.S. companies have boosted productivity by eliminating wasted effort, streamlining processes and increasing workflow velocity

By ·

While many Americans believe that the United States has lost its longtime global edge in manufacturing, one prominent supply chain management consultant maintains that global competition from emerging markets has actually sharpened it.

“Boeing and Caterpillar are among several major multinationals bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.,” noted Richard Thomspson, executive vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle IP, Inc., in Chicago. “And there’s a reason for that.”

Thompson said that lean principles in manufacturing operations and other practices used by U.S. companies have boosted productivity by eliminating wasted effort, streamlining processes and increasing workflow velocity.

“Hytrol, a leading manufacturer of conveyor equipment, has eliminated more than 80 percent of work-in-process inventory and reduced scrap and rework
by more than 30 percent, enabling it to compete with lower cost global competitors,” said Thompson.

“Made in America – A Case for Manufacturing,” is a paper written by Thompson, who also serves as Jones Lang LaSalle’s research group head of supply chain and logistics solutions for the Americas.

In an interview with SCMR, he added that there are many other examples of U.S. manufacturers which have pulled back their off-shoring operations, or never left to begin with.

“A solid economic foundation is an important strength, but manufacturing site selection decisions all come down to return on investment,”  he said.

Thompson said that there are numerous trade-offs to consider, however. These include total delivered costs, proximity to customers and suppliers and supply chain infrastructure.

“Investments are forthcoming in both the public and private sectors,” he said. “President Obama has proposed creating an infrastructure bank in his 2012 budget as a centerpiece of a 10-year, $640 billion plan for upgrading and rebuilding 150,000 miles of roads, bridges, transit systems, reconstructing 150 miles of runways, and constructing and maintaining 4,000 miles of rail lines.”

The BNSF, one of the largest U.S. railroads, plans to invest $3.5 billion in 2011 in infrastructure improvements including network upgrades and locomotives, Thompson also pointed out.

The perception that the United States’ manufacturing superiority is forever shattered, must be addressed,” he said.  “There are too many exceptions to this to consider, and we have every confidence that the United States will increasingly look more attractive from a manufacturing perspective.”

For related articles click here.

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Digital Issue: The Current State of Third-Party Logistics Services
It has become quite clear that logistics professionals are now facing an unprecedented set of challenges. From tightening capacity, to ongoing regulation hurdles, to the complexity brought on by e-commerce, today’s shippers are transforming the way they manage their logistics operations.
Download Today!
From the June 2017 Issue
Here are five trends that every shipper­—and potential shipper—must watch as the demand for experienced logistics and supply chain professionals soars.
2017 Rail/Intermodal Roundtable: Volume stable, business steady
Cross-Border Logistics: NAFTA tune-up time
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Women in Logistics: Breaking Gender Roles to Win the War for Talent
In this session you'll hear from a panel of women who are now leading top-level logistics and supply chain operations. The panel will share their success stories as well as advice for women who are now making their way up the ladder.
Register Today!
2017 Top 50 3PLs: Investment and Consolidation Maintain Traction
The trend set over the past few years for mergers and acquisitions has hardly subsided, and a fresh...
The Evolution of the Digital Supply Chain
Everyone is talking about terms like digitization, Industry 4.0 and digital supply chain management,...

2017 Salary Survey: Fresh Voices Express Optimism
Our “33rd Annual Salary Survey” reflects more diversity entering the logistics management...
LM Exclusive: Major Modes Join E-commerce Mix
While last mile carriers receive much of the attention, the traditional modal heavyweights are in...