December 12, 2007
The Manufacturing Decline
Control Engineering asks the provocative question: is manufacturing in decline in the USA?
Boston, MA - The keynote address at Aberdeen's first annual Manufacturing in the 21st Century Executive Summit served as a stronger wake-up call for attendees than the free coffee. During this session, best-selling author Michael Treacy highlighted the dramatic evolution of workplaces during the past several decades and asked the provocative question "does manufacturing even matter anymore?"Well does it? The magazine has some answers.
Subsequent presenters, however, demonstrated that manufacturing in North America is not only relevant, but thriving.As per usual the answer is to work smarter and harder. Control Engineering agrees.
However, as the name implies, continuous improvement is a journey, not a destination. Even the most robust data is of little value unless that data is used to consistently measure the performance of the business. This point was reinforced by continuous improvement experts and co-presenters Richard Kunst, VP of continuous improvement for La-Z-Boy and Mariela Castano-Kunst, continuous improvement manager for Nestle Waters Canada.So the real question is as always: do American's still have the competitive spirit that G. S. Patton described so well.
When you, here, everyone of you, were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players, and the All-American football players. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American."Interestingly enough manufacturing represents about the same percentage of the economy as it has for the last 50 years. So output is actually increasing to match the growth of the economy. So why all the talk of decline? In a word. Jobs. We are making more stuff than ever with fewer people. Just as the mechanical revolution eliminated farming as a mass employer, automation is in the process of eliminating manufacturing as a mass employer. So the question is - what next?
As usual there is no obvious answer. It is up to you to determine where the economy will go. Your best bet? Join the enthusiastic 20%. Figure out how you can be of service and just do it.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon on 12.12.07 at 06:23 PM
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