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Entries in Manufacturing (5)

Thursday
Nov302017

How to Keep NAFTA Dressed for Success

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

November 30, 2017

Textile and apparel executives, and their U.S. workers, are nervously eyeing the ongoing negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Concerns around possible job losses in this sector are running high and rising.

If you had read those statements in the mid-1980s, you might assume this sector was hoping trade talks would unravel, due to threats of foreign competition. Some still believe that to be the case, but they are mistaken.

What a difference a generation makes.

To understand why NAFTA helps the U.S. textile and apparel industry compete, you need only understand one number: 97.

That is the percentage of clothes that are purchased every year by Americans and produced offshore. We still make clothes here in the United States — primarily for fast turns, for the military, and for special programs — and we always will. But the bulk of our clothing is sewn offshore.

Asian countries own a good chunk of that 97%. Six of our top ten clothing suppliers are in Asia with China leading the way at about 40% market share. But the other four top suppliers are in the Western Hemisphere, and they include Mexico — one of our two NAFTA partners.

Read on...

Thursday
Aug172017

NAFTA Helps Small Business Manufacturers Grow

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

August 17, 2017 

Nearly two decades ago, Drew Greenblatt purchased a small manufacturing business in Baltimore, Maryland. Since then, he has nearly doubled the number of employees at Marlin Steel Wire Products. Over that same period, he doubled the firm’s sales. Then he doubled that. Then he doubled it again.

In large measure, Greenblatt’s success and Marlin Steel’s growth have been fueled by exporting the company’s wire baskets, wire forms and sheet metal products to customers abroad, with more than a quarter of the company’s revenue now stemming from international sales. Looking at it another way, seven of the Marlin Steel’s 29 workers’ jobs are directly tied to the company’s exports.

Greenblatt would like to see that number continue to grow.
From a business perspective, the foremost goal of U.S. trade policy should be to tear down barriers so companies like mine can start exporting to new markets … Free trade agreements have helped us accomplish this in the past and will help our business grow in the future.
No trade deal, Greenblatt adds, has been more critical to the company’s success than the North American Free Trade Agreement, commonly known as NAFTA.

Tuesday
Jun202017

Automation and the Truck Driver

Transport Topics

June 20, 2017

Automated vehicle technology is coming to trucking, but what will that mean for the truck driver?

This was a prominent topic during Transport Topics’ LiveOnWeb program last week featuring American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear, autonomous vehicle consultant Richard Bishop and Josh Switkes, CEO of truck-platooning firm Peloton Technology.

While conversations about automation often drift toward fully autonomous trucks, that’s still decades away, Spear said.

“I think driver-assist is where we need to put our energy,” he said. “I think that’s the most reachable goal within the next few years, and it could yield tremendous benefits if it’s done right.”

Drivers who are working today will not be put out of work by automation, especially with freight volumes expected to grow and the driver shortage expected to worsen, Peloton’s Switkes said.

“Yes, over time, automation will reduce the number of drivers needed, but for the foreseeable future, that’s just going to slow down the growth of the shortage,” he said. “Eventually, it’ll reduce the driver shortage. The time in the future when there are fewer drivers needed than the amount of drivers we have today is far off.

Thursday
Jan122017

Donald Trump and the rising reshoring movement

TRG International

January 12, 2017

In June 2015, Donald Trump, then the Republican frontrunner, threatened to slap a 35% tariff on Ford’s cars and trucks made in Mexico if the automaker went ahead with plans to move its production of small cars from the US to Mexico. The feud between Mr. Trump and Ford was a highlight of his repeated pledges to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US. Mr. Trump also made it very clear that he opposes free trade agreements like TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and will renegotiate NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement).

Fast forward to 2017, Ford just announced on Jan 03 that it will cancel plans for the US$1.6 billion plant in Mexico and instead invest in expanding its facilities in Michigan, IL. And TPP is now dead in the water when both the White House and congressional leaders gave up on passing it. Is reshoring, the practice of bringing outsourced production back to home countries, becoming a major trend that will reshape the future of global manufacturing? And should emerging economies be concerned?

Read on...

Sunday
Jun072015

How a Decaying Infrastructure Hurts U.S. Manufacturing

Aged concrete can be seen as a car drives under the I-95/495 inner loop bridge on the Suitland Parkway in Forestville, Md. The bridge is one of 61,000 bridges across America that the Department of Transportation said were structurally deficient and in need of repair. MARK WILSON/GETTY IMAGESWall Street Journal

June 4, 2015

Make or buy all that you want in the U.S., but if the transportation system doesn’t work, your business will suffer. That’s why the U.S. must address the huge problem of decaying infrastructure.

Manufacturing is physical—not virtual—regardless of the amount of digital technology used to organize, guide and control it. It is dependent on places and the transportation connections among them. Even if research and development can happen on computers, even if simulations can substitute for prototypes or prototypes can be made on 3-D printers, and even if parts can be sourced from anywhere in the world by employees sitting in any part of the world destined for customers in any part of the world, physical objects must move from place to place.   Read on…