No one will claim that using statistical and monitoring software to stay competitive in the world will reverse the current trend toward manufacturing outsourcing to offshore operations.
But it could help.
A recent New York Times article reported on a challenge that President Obama had made to Apple head Steve Jobs last year, when Jobs hosted a dinner meeting for Silicon Valley luminaries.
Why couldn’t those jobs be brought home? Obama asked.
Lower cost of labor is only part of a more complicated story. Apple, and other manufacturers, need flexible and responsive partners that can, and are willing to, react quickly to changing demands. This more nimble and cooperative supply chain is a valuable asset–a competitive advantage for manufacturers.
“Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have outpaced their American counterparts,” the article asserted. Nearly all electronic goods are now produced in Asia or elsewhere.
If a workforce with appropriate skills is a driving force sending jobs to distant factories then improving American opportunities will require workforce training. Training for workers in statistical thinking, use of statistical tools, emphasis on customer-supplier relationships and shared understanding of quality requirements is an important aspect of this training. Statistical Process Control (SPC) and related quality improvement techniques help to eliminate waste and improve efficiency. These techniques also facilitate communication up and down the supply chain, using common, well-understood concepts.
Have you thought about this issue? What can we do to keep even more companies from taking their manufacturing facilities abroad?
Let me hear from you…