From the Shop Floor — The Week in Manufacturing (11/11/2011)

This remarkably rosy headline in Bloomberg said it all this week.

Meanwhile, in the Ann Arbor area, Hyundai CEO John Krafcik was extremely coy this week when meeting with reporters about whether or not his company was planning a new U.S.-based manufacturing facility.

A number of manufacturing trade associations are supporting a recent piece of legislation introduced by some Connecticut lawmakers designed to introducing something called a Manufacturing Reinvestment Account.  An MRA, as proposed by the bill, would allow manufacturers to save pre-tax dollars to invest in plant, equipment and job training or workforce development.  Much like an IRA, funds would build up tax free.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is conducting tests on the Chevy Volt after the battery of one of GM’s signature electric cars caught fire following a routine crash test.

Caterpillar, one of the great success stories in recent American manufacturing, announced this week that in 2012 it will be re-shoring a number of jobs from Japan back to the U.S.  Fox Business, meanwhile, reports that the Peoria-based Cat might attempt to expand its reach (and mining business) in China by bidding nearly $900 million on Chinese manufacturer ERA Mining Machinery.

Speaking of China, the Global Post recently ran a story called “Bye-Bye Cheap Chinese Labor.”

On the other side of the coin, retired foreign service officer Stephan Helgesen continues to wring his hands about the Chineseand other offshore contract manufacturers.  While Helgesen makes a compelling point about the products he found at a local Walmart, I can’t help but feel the guy’s a day late and a dollar short on a lot of his information, and that the manufacturing of durable, high-quality goods is already returning to the U.S., and the production of lower-end more disposable goods is, likewise, starting to follow suit.

In face of some compelling evidence, not to mention some growing competition, Forbes reports that officials at glass giant Corning remain bullish on its traditional LCD business.

At the 5th annual Manufacturing Summit on skilled high-tech jobs, Dr. Margot Daniels-Tyler of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation struck a chord with yours truly in Washington, DC this week when she challenged 150 or so technology manufacturing leaders by asking them point-blank, “How many of you are mentoring a 7th or 8th grader?”

The Chinese are playing hardball when it comes to solar power, and at least one coalition of U.S. solar power manufacturers is not going to take it anymore.  Execs for the companies are calling for governmental and perhaps even judicial help in combating what they feel is illegal chip-dumping into the U.S. market by government-subsidized Chinese manufacturers.

Autolive, the Swedish-based manufacturer of automotive safety parts,  was named Manufacturer of the Year this week at the American Manufacturing Strategies Summit in Chicago.

As reported in Supply Chain Digest, according to a report by Booz & Company, U.S. manufacturing is at an “inflection point,” and given the right or wrong strategies and policies over the next few years, manufacturing in this country could either increase by 95% or drop by as much as 40%.

in the Huffington Post this week, blogger and author Michele Nash-Hoff rebuts commentator and fellow blogger John Stossel’s claim about the “stupidity of buying American,” and that Americans would be better served buying where they can get their goods the cheapest, thereby freeing up money for other things.  It’s a fun read by Nash-Hoff.  Check it out.

A new bi-partisan bill in Congress would help address what many manufacturers and farmers in this country feel is a major stumbling block to their overall competitiveness, particularly globally: declining highway and transportation infrastructure.

According to, what U.S. city has been the hardest hit by global competition and lost the most manufacturing jobs?  The City of the Angels.  From 1997 to 2009, Los Angeles lost manufacturing jobs each and every year, and only a moderate increase the last two years has kept the city from losing manufacturing jobs for 15 straight years.

A report this week — actually a pretty interesting report issued this week — by something called the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) details where U.S. manufacturing jobs are headed these days, and in which ares of production they’ll soon be located.

One Comment to “From the Shop Floor — The Week in Manufacturing (11/11/2011)”

  1. stephan helgesen 5 December 2011 at 9:23 pm #

    Glad you read my article on the hemorrhage of American jobs to Chinese manufacturers in New Mexico I agree with you, WE are more than a day late and MORE than a dollar short – $26 bill./month in trade deficit with China. If that’s not compelling enough data for you than I don’t know what is. Keep up the fight to return manufacturing preeminence to the USA!

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