Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Can Revolutions in Manufacturing Promote Off Shoring ?
The article “Time to rethink off shoring ” that was assigned few weeks ago discusses how changing economic conditions may have challenged the supply chain advantage gained by outsourcing to countries like China and Malaysia and whether this may be an appropriate moment to reevaluate the global supply chain and bring back manufacturing to the USA. While it is true that the manufacturing domestically keeps transportation costs low and creates short supply chains with quick response time, it would interesting to know how much it would cost the companies to make a transition and also the availability of skilled labor and infrastructure to get the thing going?
In a video that I recently came across by Rodney Brooks, a Computer scientist and former Panasonic Professor of Robotics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discusses how the manufacturing units in the US are not as quickly scalable as that are in China. He also says that the supply chain is not dynamic enough to support production of 50 Million iPhones in 3 months. This raises a question of whether it is possible to bring back manufacturing to the USA. However, he suggests that innovations in the field of technology introducing robots like Baxter and also new business models like product companies selling designs in super CAD to retailers and retailers getting the product manufactured by local manufacturers and sell them to people could be the future of American manufacturing. He suggests that these new Business models can help make stuff in the US and make manufacturing more resilient.
We have already come across a lot of innovation that is going on within the supply chains and how RFID microchips and 3D printers that can make stuff can change the dynamics of supply chains in the future. Before we could even wonder how long it would take for these technologies to actually happen in reality Nike Football debuted the Nike Vapor Laser Talon with a revolutionary 3D printed plate that would help football athletes perform better. The plate of this cleat is manufactured using Selective Laser Sintering technology (SLS). SLS technique uses high-powered lasers to infuse small particles of materials into three-dimensional shapes that are not possible in traditional manufacturing processes. Leaving the design aside, this technology also gives the ability to make design updates within hours instead of months that can truly accelerate the manufacturing process and also have a considerable effect on Nike’s Supply chain. The process helps Nike to bring production closer to market by making shoes to order rather than to stock. Also, Nike could make the plate y in the US for its domestic market, using US facilities to attach the upper parts of the shoe to the plate and finish the shoe. This whole phenomenon could inspire many other manufacturers who wish to bring back manufacturing to the US.