We came across this article by Joel Hans, Managing Editor of Manufacturing.net discussing barriers to the recent trend and enthusiasm for Re-Shoring business and jobs back to North America. As the challenges of inconsistent Quality, inconsistent Delivery and rising pricing from Chinese out-sourced manufacturers wear on North American manufacturers, it’s natural and patriotic to consider Re-Shoring. And yet there are barriers to immediately “turning the tap back on” here at home.
In the steel industry, we’ve lost huge production capacity and a whole generation of steel-making and foundry expertise that has a huge capital cost of re-entry. And the timeline to train new employees in such fundamental industries as forming steel and iron is intimidatingly long. Mr. Hans directs his caution and concern to the widening gap between aging production expertise and the younger generations who don’t show interest in careers in manufacturing.
How do we replace retirees who take so much tribal knowledge with them when they exit our factories for the last time? How, and how quickly, can we upskill their replacements? Have we equipped ourselves with requisite training documentation and have we considered positive modifications to processes and job duties that long-term employees have been reluctant to consider? Serious issues to consider for sure but the types of issues that are best addressed if there are to be opportunities to replace Off-Shore contact manufacturers. Those manufacturers in North America who have prepared themselves with capacity and capability to absorb Re-Shored business will leap forward if this Re-Shoring momentum continues.
Enjoy the Article! ~ Jim Fairfax