USA Today: Manufacturing Returning to USA?

This special August 2010 report in USA Today states that General Electric is moving important production from China to a newly renovated factory in the USA, resulting in 400 jobs. The story highlights a growing band of U.S. manufacturers—including giants such as GE, NCR and Caterpillar—that are reversing the inexorable offshoring movement, bringing return of some new production to the U.S. from far-flung locations such as China.

Other OEMs that were buying components overseas are switching to U.S. suppliers. Ford Motor said August 4 that it was bringing nearly 2,000 jobs to its U.S. plants by 2012 from suppliers, including those in Japan, Mexico and India.

Many reasons for the shifts were reported, often called “onshoring” or “reshoring.” Chinese wages and shipping costs have risen sharply in the past few years while U.S. salaries have stayed flat, or in some cases, fallen in the recession. Meanwhile, U.S. manufacturers have been frustrated by the sometimes poor quality of goods made by foreign contractors, theft of their intellectual property and long product-delivery cycles that make them less responsive to customer demand. Several cite the drawbacks of tying up valuable capital in huge overseas shipments, and want to bring assembly closer to engineers, suppliers and customers, concerns that mounted as makers slashed costs in the downturn. Others are simply weary of midnight phone calls—and multiple annual trips—to Asia.

Check out OEM Tech Brief #39 for more information. Also see book review, “Poorly Made in China,” here.

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