Monthly Archives: August 2010

Why Is the United States Manufacturing So Important?

Blue Angels Patch

United States (US) Manufacturing has always been the envy of the world; our expertise has been studied, exploited, and finally manufacturing has been taken out of our country altogether. The excuses were free trade, it will help our products, and services become marketed and sold outside our borders, and these decisions made by people who have no clue about manufacturing reality. Free trade did not work, just read the labels on products in your home; “Made in China” or “Made in Mexico” are easy to spot.

What we know now is that overseas manufacturing labor is cheaper; these workers will work for 5% to 10% of what is currently paid to US worker. The decision for sending US manufacturing overseas, made by people who have no clue about manufacturing reality created a disconnect resulting in lost manufacturing expertise. This disconnection has contributed to the forfeiture of knowledge resulting in lost manufacturing business jobs. Employment in the US Manufacturing sector has been falling for at least 50 years. The portion of manufacturing employment in 1950 was about 35% of all jobs in the US, in 2004, this number is a staggering 13%, and 2010 this number is 5.95% (Fisher, 2004). Loss manufacturing jobs means higher unemployment, and the American dream has become some other nation’s dream. The US is not prepared for the future; and that is why US Manufacturing is so important today.

US Manufacturing Industry over twenty years ago made it possible to develop and manufacture the Boeing F/A 18 Hornet one of the most amazing flying machines on earth, flown today by the US Navy flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels. It is estimated 15 million spectators view the Blue Angels squadron during air shows each year, and I was one of these spectators yesterday. My mind wandered during the airshow thinking about the shear amazement of the complicated, engineering, and manufacturing know-how needed to fly such an aircraft in a way that defies the laws of physics at speeds that defies common sense, generating pure spectator excitement. The maneuvers required perfect pilotage execution, and the modern flying machine to perform without a flaw. During the Blue Angels demonstration, it occurred to me why it is so important that US Manufacturing Industry once again take the lead, we must use our nation’s shear strength in science, and manufacturing diversity to develop the lead in technology, manufacturing techniques, and a superior developed best-trained workforce.

In the 1830’s Great Britain did not invest in manufacturing and design research and human education as their emerging economic rivals the US did. The mighty US Manufacturing Industry prospered and made it possible for our nation and its allies to engage and win WW1 and WW2 (Dickson, 1996). Combine this history lesson with the negative effects of NAFTA (Prizinsky, 1997) the industrial foreign trade policy that attempted to balance the trade between Mexico, Canada and the United States. Robert Scott (2001) writing for the Economic Policy Institute addresses on why NAFTA core principles that better supported the 50 years of the strategic industrial growth policies of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and China. In this Asian model, the mentioned countries protected their industries; they invest heavily in manufacturing process research, employee education, and subsidize R&D investment. This strategy represented the complete opposite of what occurred in the United States (Scott, 2001) .

Perhaps the next great Blue Angels US Navy flight demonstration team will be flying aircraft manufactured by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) or Airbus a consolidation of European defense and aerospace companies.

During the Blue Angels demonstration, it occurred to me why it is so important that US Manufacturing Industry must once again create and take the manufacturing lead, by focusing our nation’s shear strength in science, and manufacturing diversity to develop the lead in technology, manufacturing techniques, and a superior developed best-trained workforce.

I hope your mind wandered during this Blog, and now you’re thinking how important it is to develop US Manufacturing Industry resources today! How important to buy American, and how important it is to making jobs in America by investing in manufacturing and design research and human education… Finally, how important to check manufacturing labels and buy American first!

Reference:
Dickson, P., Czinkota,M. (1996). How the United States can be number one again: resurrecting the industrial policy debate. The Columbia Journal of World Business Fall 96(31), 76-87.
Fisher, E. (2004). ”Why are We Losing Manufacturing Jobs?” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Economic Commentary, July 2004.
Prizinsky, D. (1997). “NAFTA levels a soft blow to Ohio jobs so far.” Crain’s Cleveland Business. Crain Communications, Inc. 1997. Retrieved June 21, 2010 from HighBeam Research: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-50355528.html.
Scott, R. E. (2001). Fast Track to Lost Jobs: Trade Deficits and Manufacturing Decline Are the Legacies of NAFTA and the WTO. Briefing Paper. Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute.

Blue Angels Fly Into Portsmouth For Air Show Precision Flying Team Seen In Sky Over Portsmouth August 28th and 29th – http://www.wmur.com/entertainment/24775084/detail.html

Blue Angels

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PERFECTION

perfection

Secret # 1 Crazy about Kaizen!

The meaning of Kaizen is slow but continuous improvement, doing “little things” better , setting and achieving ever-higher standards. Kaizen is an important part of the examination process for waste reduction. The 80/20 rule, 80 percent of waste is designed into the product and services. Conducting Kaizen during product and service development results in a “built in” efficient flow. Performing Kaizen during all the product’s life inspires efficiency in legacy products and services. It is always productive to engage in Kaizen. Productive people are in motion; Kaizen fuels the motion one event at a time, creating the “go-and-do-it” attitude.

Kaizen can inspire, however, true lean transformation does not happen in a day. It takes consistent and persistent willingness to change and improve. Too often, we lose sight of the fact that suitable change is considered work. Some say it is associated with the same level of effort that brought us to the current level of inefficiency in the first place. Kaizen fuels the “go-and-do-it” attitude because it transforms a culture that realizes “doing it” was better than simply talking about it.

Kaizen is Japanese for “change for the better” or “improvement”, the English translation is “continuous improvement”, or “continual improvement.” When we focus on perfection the definition of Kaizen evolves and becomes “improvement in motion”.

Reference

Savo, P. (2006). PERFECTION – 10 Secrets to Successful Lean Manufacturing Implementation. Boston: Tradition Books

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United States Manufacturing Needs a Quality Plan

Patriot Blog

Plan for Quality!

Quality is not by chance, quality is hard work, and quality is the art of making sure that everyone who comes-in-contact with the project understands the requirements in black and white with no gray areas. The phrase “it is good enough” is not quality.  Solution: have a project kick off meeting for every new project; include the stakeholders (engineering, planning, purchasing, production, production floor operators, and quality). If any stakeholder is not sure of the requirements, then the project has not been planned out correctly. Guessing leads to scrap!

 •        Project kick off meeting for every new project

Execute Plan for Quality!

Focus on schedule, time-line, allow enough time for the unplanned process steps that occasionally creep up and remember human variability is the original constant.

Solution: provide people contact information for solution providers when process variability creeps into the plan. Make it clear to everyone in the project who is to be contacted when the production floor operator or anyone has questions, place this information on the Shop Traveler.  Leave nothing to guessing, hoping for the best, or worse asking the wrong person the question results in scrap.

 •        Provide people contact information for solution providers, and place this information on the Shop Traveler.

Production Flow for Quality!

Develop production flows for the most efficient sequence of process steps, when the need arises to deviate from the production plan or production flow because of any reason. For example, a reason could be, but not limited to the following; machine or tooling availability, operator availability, and outside process availability, the Shop Traveler is to be Redline referencing the sequence or process step deviation. Solution: any change from the planned sequence or process steps requires a signature from the planner. With change to the sequence of process steps comes risk, so minimize these changes at all cost.

 •        The project planner must approve the redline to the Shop Traveler all sequence or process steps deviations from the original plan.

 Ship for Quality!

This is the most difficult ingredient of Think Quality Formula. When the product produced results in any deviation from customer specifications, it is not considered quality. In our perfect world results occasionally deviate from customer specification. Solution: The customer is the only one who can approve the deviation.

 •        The customer is the only one who can approve the deviation.

Build Quality in every part!

I understand a company is not a light switch, and that change cannot be made that quickly, today that seems to be the excuse to do nothing at all, or worse continue business as usual.  Business as usual is not a happy place and employment in the manufacturing sector of the United States has been falling for at least 50 years. The portion of manufacturing employment in 1950 was about 35%, in 2004, this number is a staggering 13%, and 2010 this number is 5.95% (Fisher, 2004).

Business as usual is not working…. we must embrace incremental change, we must begin to focus on a quality first mindset, and we must do this now!

 Reference: Fisher, Eric O’N. ”Why are We Losing Manufacturing Jobs?” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Economic Commentary, July 2004

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