Made in the USA — Part 3

By May 13, 2006Taking It for Granted

Blog-Icon-MI.jpg“To be competitive, we have to industrialize in ways that make us more efficient. All manufactuirng, everywhere, is becoming more efficient or it is going away.” This very good insight was made by Walter Gillette, vice president of airplane development at Boeing. While his observation was made about aircraft manufacturing, it is equally true about any other kind of manufactured product you can imagine.

We learned about Mr. Gillette’s views on manufacturing in an excellent series of articles on manufacturing in the Washington Times last month. Recently, I’ve blogged on the first two installments. Today I’ll touch on the third of the four-part series that ran in April.

The only thing Sparshott missed in this piece was the role of small and medium sized manufacturers. Increasingly, the big companies are pushing the innovation down to the smaller companies. They are not just telling them what they need, they are involving them in design and planning. They should have mentioned Click Bond in this article, because they are a small company out in Nevada that makes many of the fasteners used in Boeing’s planes. Take a look at this article and learn a lot about today’s manufacutring that too many take for granted.

TImes reporter Jeffrey Sparshott interviewed some of America’s manufacturers who are household words: Boeing, John Deere, Dell and Lockheed Martin. Each company has a diffent business line of course, but their comments are similar about how they still make product here, but are globalizing their supply chain. For example, Deere’s chairman and CEO Robert Lane says, “globalization affects virtually everything we do at Deere, from supplier sourcing, to manufacturing processes, to recruiting highly skilled men and women from all over the world.”

If you want a short course in today’s manufacturing then this third installment captures it. There are fascinating descriptions of how Boeing is building its new 787 Dreamliner. Did you know that big planes like that have 300,000 hydraulic, electronic and interior parts and another 300,000 fasteners?! More important to you wonks out there, the article talks about how these companies seek a balance between what they make here and what they outsource to other US companies or abroad.

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