Skip to comments.The Future of Manufacturing Is in America, Not China
Posted on 07/18/2012 6:28:24 PM PDT by nickcarraway
How new technology is driving a U.S. industrial comeback.
A furor broke out last week after it was reported that the uniforms of U.S. Olympians would be manufactured in China. "They should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile, and burn them," said an apoplectic Sen. Harry Reid. The story tapped into the anger -- and fear -- that Americans feel about the loss of manufacturing to China. Seduced by government subsidies, cheap labor, lax regulations, and a rigged currency, U.S. industry has rushed to China in recent decades, with millions of American jobs lost. It is these fears, rather than the Olympic uniforms themselves, that triggered last week's congressional uproar.
But Ralph Lauren berets aside, the larger trends show that the tide has turned, and it is China's turn to worry. Many CEOs, including Dow Chemicals' Andrew Liveris, have declared their intentions to bring manufacturing back to the United States. What is going to accelerate the trend isn't, as people believe, the rising cost of Chinese labor or a rising yuan. The real threat to China comes from technology. Technical advances will soon lead to the same hollowing out of China's manufacturing industry that they have to U.S industry over the past two decades.
Several technologies advancing and converging will cause this.
First, robotics. The robots of today aren't the androids orCylons that we are used to seeing in science fiction movies, but specialized electromechanical devices run by software and remote control. As computers become more powerful, so do the abilities of these devices. Robots are now capable of performing surgery, milking cows, doing military reconnaissance and combat, and flying fighter jets. Several companies, such Willow Garage, iRobot, and 9th Sense, sell robot-development kits for which university students and open-source communities are developing ever more sophisticated applications.
(Excerpt) Read more at foreignpolicy.com ...
Mechanization, automation, computerization, robotics AND improved work processes increase productivity levels, bring down the price of finished goods, improve the value of the dollar, and eliminate industrial jobs.
It is conceivable the USA/Canada/Mexico could become the world's lowest cost producer for all products.
That future is close ~
I agree with the article, and it will certainly help with the job picture and the deficit. However, manufacturing has been losing jobs for many decades. The manufacturing that is coming back will not be the same number of jobs that left. As long as we can keep energy relatively cheaper, we can get manufacturing jobs back.
It is good thing that we are losing manufacturing jobs.
Technological advances lead to huge increases in worker productivity, which then requires fewer and fewer workers to produce more and more output.
The huge gains in productive efficiency and worker productivity lead to significantly lower and more affordable prices for consumers, leading to a reduced share of food and manufactured goods in both household income and national income (GDP), but increasing levels of output in absolute terms. For these long-term trends we should be grateful for their major contribution to our ever-increasing standard of living.
Swell. So the manufacturing plants will move back here, but there won’t be anyone with jobs that pay enough to enable them to buy the stuff the robots are manufacturing.
I disagree with much of this article. Robotics could be utilized to make many things. However, what makes the author think those robotics will be placed in factoies here in the USA? We still have government overregulation and overtaxation.
Those robots will probably find a home in many other countries, churning out goods that we in the USA will keep buying - if our economy hasn’t completely crashed.
We won’t solve our problems with robots. Remember when our politicians thought making CFL light bulbs would save us - only to see them manufactured in China? Same with solar panels, we’re being undercut by overseas makers. The problem is with our politicians. Get rid of them.
From 20 years of experience in business, the one thing the US could do to bring back manufacturing to the US is: fire every MBA and kill every other lawyer.
Industrial robots and robotic automation systems are already being used widely to increase American manufacturing productivity.
Just look at how CPUs are made for example.
This article is full of crap. Who do you think makes most of the parts for those robots, the controls, and the parts used for automation? Think it’s the US? You’re wrong. China builds the vast majority of those parts now. I have seen it first hand. About 90% comes out of china, and we gave them the technology to do it. That’s 90% you’ll never get back, the chinese will never let go of it, and will screw over anyone who tries to take it back. The free traders will get their asses handed back to them at some point in the near future, because unless you’re chinese, you just gave it all away.
We have a winner !! As Paul Harvey once said we could solve our trade imbalance if for every Toyota Japan sold here they had to take an attorney back with them.
This country has the highest taxes on manufacturing in the world and regulations are over the top.
Lower them and many jobs would return almost every company stated that is the problem.
True. But the point I was making, is that won't solve our economic woes if the factories utilizing robots are built overseas - not to mention as someone else pointed out, that the robotic components are made overseas. Back in the 1960s, I toured Ford manufacturing facilities here in the SF Bay Area. The cars were mostly built by hand with hundreds of people. Today, cars are mostly built by robots - in Mexico and elsewhere.
The problem is overregulation and government intervention that is stifling creativity and production. Read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, and find that much of what she wrote is happening to the USA. Who is John Galt?