Manufacturing Journal

American Manufacturers working together to compete globally in the 21st century

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Should We Compete with China?

One of the best ways to compete with "China" is to educate and increase skill levels. This country was built on manufacturing with high skills. To stay in competition we must have highly skilled workers. Facing the low wage of the likes of China is very frustrating, to say the least. Large corporations are investing huge sums of money in China for the lure of the 1.3 billion consumers that they may eventually sell to.
I don't think the Chinese government is giving millions of dollars to relocate manufacturing facilities like we give to foreign firms in the US. Our Fortune 500 firms should be investing their dollars in educating and skill building in America first, not taking the trade secrets of "how to manufacture" to China, or any other foreign country for that matter. Without the dollar or the euro, China would not have a chance. We educate them with management and how to manufacture techniques.
In some aspects it almost comes to be an act of treason. Why the big companies do not invest in automation, robotics and the skills of Americans than go abroad for the extra dollar to be earned by selling to the 1.3 billion consumers of China. Get your own house straight first. If we invest in education and skills at the same rate our bigger companies are investing in new factories in China there would be no competition.
Automation is actually infrastructure. We must have the roads, the transportation systems and the IT to deliver goods being produced. We have the best except for automation.
Global competition is like waging war. The war is .50 cents per labor hour at this time in China. Very soon it will be 2.00/hour, perhaps within a couple of years. The wage has tripled in the last five years in China and their appetite is growing fast. The resistance of automation and robotic use in the US was viewed as loss of jobs and is still to this date.
The US does not have a robot manufacturing company. Adept on the west coast comes close, mainly in chip manufacturing and small assembly. Germany has two big ones. Japan has at least seven major ones. France and Switzerland also have them. Italy uses half as many robots as the US does. Germany, which is one fourth of the population of the US, employs more robots. Japan uses more than all of us combined.
For instance, in Germany, a company that produces cakes, (Yes the same chocolate cakes we like) from the batter to the final package is produced totally with robotics. In Germany the new question is not to employ the robot but how fast is the next generation of the robot. A Japanese company doing business in Ohio boasts robots making robots. Now that we know it can be done from cakes to robots, why are we not using them? We know that we need a B-1 bomber to deliver the payload, we know nuclear subs get the payload delivered, obviously we know how to wage war with all the smart bombs, star wars, etc, etc.
We must engage in the war of the low wage countries. We have the expertise but our government is not stepping up to the plate.
Some of our biggest companies would rather take the short route to expanding their bulging pockets. If the government and the big companies are selling us out, what can we do? As a last resort, we must come together as citizens and demand their help. We may need to impeach them, not vote for them, or not buy their foreign made goods. Then the next big question is, what do we need?
We must educate, we must teach the skills needed to be competitive. We must innovate, collaborate, come together in this unusual new warfare. This type of warfare is a slow, degrading death of a great country.
Building infrastructure is not a subsidy, it is called building a country. If the US can send men to the moon we certainly should be able to build robots to do our .50 / hour manual tasks. I am sure this is not the complete solution, but it would be a great start.


Don't touch our "black Box"!
What can Western education systems learn from a Malaysian experiment in vocational training?
The debate goes on!

Quote of Note
"Today, because of their massive surplus over the United States, China has dollars and they are paying for things like the Sovremenny Class missile cruiser, which is a carrier- killing machine designed by the Soviet Union to destroy American aircraft carriers. They are purchasing submarine capability from the Soviet Union. They are purchasing weapons technology from around the world and they are doing it with American dollars that are accumulating as a result of this massive trade deficit, which to a very large degree is a function of this new species of illegal subsidy that is being given to exporters by China's government -- this currency manipulation."
-- House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter as quoted in Manufacturing & Technology News

What does this have to do with manufacturing??


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