There has been a lot of buzz recently about reshoring and the return of manufacturing. But what does that really mean? After so many years of a disjointed supply chain, what will it look like to have American companies back on American soil? How will recent developments in automation shape the return of the factory?
By Willy Shih and Gary Pisano
We believe that the most important reason to bring manufacturing back and grow it in this country is that the ability to manufacture underpins our ability to innovate in many fields. When manufacturing process technology is not yet mature, or when products are tightly integrated systems that are not easily modularized, a great deal of the work in “industrializing” a product – that is getting it ready and putting it into volume production – is high value-added knowledge work that supports future innovation in the field.
A great example is Intel Corporation’s latest generation of “Ivy Bridge” family of microprocessors. Intel has invested tens of billions of dollars in its factories in Oregon, Arizona, and New Mexico so that they are able to produce the most advanced semiconductors. In order to produce its Ivy Bridge chips in the latest generation technology, it had to maintain a tight loop between the engineering team designing the chips and the engineers designing the manufacturing process. Understanding how to make a product in volume is very different from being able to build a one-of-a-kind prototype, and the process that engineers and workers go through is an important part of innovation. Many in the industry say that Intel has a two year lead on its competition as a result.
Read the full article at CNN. What do you see the future of American manufacturing looking like? What sort of expectations do you hold for reshoring efforts, both on the corporate-wide and factory floor levels?