Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Making The Future

Call it a "manufacturing renaissance" or "re-industrialization" on a global scale.  Whatever it is, manufacturing and the jobs potential and strong economics associated with it are hot.  High-cost nations (such as the U.S) are considering a return of manufacturing.  This is partly driven by innovation that makes manufacturing cleaner and more competitive.  Brainpower reserves and technology are the keys to this renaissance (where places like Portugal, with only 30% of the population graduating from high school, will be hard pressed in this new manufactured world).  We in the U.S. might even start to think about developing a collective "Industrial Policy" - - with the goal of pursuing higher value and a more sustainable middle class.

In The New Industrial Revolution: Consumers, Globalization and the End of Mass Production, author Peter Marsh lays out the seven secrets of success in the new (and better) era of global manufacturing:
  1. Environmental Imperative - Companies use "green" thinking to sell more products and invent new ones.
  2. Networked Manufacturing - Companies are making more effective use of global supply chains and talent, using people where they are most cost-effective geographically.  This makes them more nimble at spotting trends.
  3. Technological Acceleration - Companies are becoming more adept both at improving individual technologies and using them in combination with others.
  4. Cluster Dynamics - Even as supply chains become more geographically diverse, manufacturers are becoming more reliant on certain "clusters" of local suppliers and "technology partners", many of them located in high-cost countries.
  5. Niche Thinking - Changes in technology mean more business for boutique, specialist businesses with emphasis on design and top-flight manufacturing.
  6. Personalized Production - Making things in small batches tailored to a customer, perhaps even one at a time, is starting to become routine.
  7. Industrial Democracy - More countries have become capable of top-class manufacturing and product development, giving manufacturers greater choice over where to produce.  China, now the world's biggest manufacturing country, has made the greatest strides.

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