U.S. Manufacturing: Innovation or Bust

March 4, 2011
A recent news item on U.S. manufacturing, “ISM Factory Index Jumps to 60.8% in January,” touts manufacturing’s rebound for the last 18 months, and that’s the good news. The so-so news, however, is the continuing trend of component “outsourcing” by U.S. manufacturers of their own products.

In a recent “New York Times” article on manufacturing innovation, (http://nyti.ms/aroundweb_062), Susan Houseman, Senior Economist, W.E. Upjohn Institute, noted that U.S. manufacturers import more than 25 percent of their components, up from 17 percent in 1997. Also cited in the article: The Boeing Co. used to manufacture or source all of its components in the United States, but now, wings for many of its airplanes are manufactured in Japan.

The piece suggests that innovative manufacturing in the United States exists. However, it points out that manufacturing innovation is very difficult to do when much of the manufacturing is being done in foreign countries. Let’s hope for more leadership in manufacturing at this crucial time.

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Gary Mintchell, Editor in Chief, offers up a new Automation Minutes podcast on all things automation and manufacturing: Future of HMI; Packaging Automation Forum; ARC Forum and recent challenges with the ISA100 committee. Approximate time: 20:58. Visit http://bit.ly/awpod_020.