Some of the experts claim that America manufacturing has lost its competitive edge. They believe the U.S. cannot compete with other countries that have less expensive labor rates. They claim the industry is reaching a point of obsolescence and fading into the horizon, just like the horse and buggy did. They also believe that eventually the number of manufacturing workers will shrink to less than 2% of the total workforce, similar to the transformation that occurred when the agricultural industry dissipated during the years of the Industrial Revolution. And still others state that manufacturing will never regain the glory days it enjoyed for 35 years following the Second World War. It is no wonder that the manufacturing industry has such a pessimistic view of itself. The irony of it all is that the sector has actually been quite successful over the past twenty years. A point of great importance as to why the nations manufacturing sector has been successful it that it is continually learning how to compete against low wage overseas competition by discovering how to be more productive, achieving greater efficiencies of scale, and implementing various management techniques. While the early 1980's did introduced foreign competition at a rapid pace as many manufactures witnessed their market share erode almost overnight, that decade did initiate a wake-up call for many manufacturers, both large and small. The message became abundantly clear, either change and meet the competition head-on with new production methods and management techniques, and conduct your organization under a different business model, or become obsolete. That said it should also be recognized that the manufacturing sector would always experience cyclical periods of economic expansion and volatile contraction. In the expansion mode, manufacturing can create unprecedented wealth and prosperity. In the contraction mode, it can create a feeling of doom. It is understandable that the feeling of disbelief can set in whenever economic downturns occur causing widespread job layoffs and losses. But the American manufacturing sector continues to demonstrate strong resilience and has many reasons to be proud. In retrospect, it has always made a continuous and steady climb back to prominence after every economic recession since 1945. And whenever manufacturing industries flex their powerful muscle during economic expansion periods, the benefits and rippling effect are felt throughout several other sectors of the economy. One of the premier reasons for improving manufacturing efficiency is the creation economic wealth. Manufacturing still contributes a substantial part of the gross domestic product of modern industrialized nations. Yet even with that stated, it is often considered as a highly productive activity that can always be improved upon. This book offers techniques for implementing method improvements and other planning strategies that will provide the opportunities to allow manufacturing efficiency to be a creator of economic wealth. These strategies are ever more paramount today than in years past, and they will continue to be more significant in the future.
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