“Simplistic solutions are lousy bandaids – when you seek the easy way out, the real road to recovery takes hard work!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
It’s not going to be an easy path for many manufacturing organizations to climb out of the mess that they are in. That’s because they’ve seen the benefits of a simple ‘fix’ – tariffs and other barriers – trade policies that artificially preserve markets and stave off real competition.
In the meantime, what has that competition been busy doing?
Pursuing dramatic transformation using disruptive business models, implementing 3D printing manufacturing capabilities, advanced robotics to streamline production, and researching and deploying advanced new products based on advanced materials science.
Oops. Many American manufacturing organizations don’t stand a chance.
Not only that, but global manufacturing leaders are taking advantage of the massive new opportunities afforded by Amazon and Baidu, global supply chains, and advanced logistic capabilities. Quite simply, geography hasn’t just disappeared as a barrier to small companies participating in the global economy – it’s encouraging their role.
What’s the future of global manufacturing? It’s all right here, in this quote.
“We operate on the basis that we’re three hours from the factories we work with, and we are three days from 90% of the consumers on the planet who buy the product.” Manufacturing Guru Liam Casey Looks Back—and Ahead The Man known as ‘Mr. China’ – 7 June 2016, The Wall Street Journal Online
Too many US companies, though, have not aligned to the future trends defining future manufacturing. They are already starting to see the impact as ill-conceived tariffs take hold.
Many have done little to invest in the high end skills that truly define their future – it’s all automation.
Years ago, a client observed that “the education level of our workforce has increased so much….it’s almost as if machinists in this industry do trigonometry in their heads.” The future of manufacturing involves advanced skills and capabilities – and yet, many have not invested in this area, where it truly matters.
The recovery is going to painful and challenging, but that’s often the result of seeking an easy solution to a complex problem.