From the Shop Floor — The Week in Manufacturing (3/23/2012)

Citing one sobering report issued this week, Reuters reminds us that in the opinion of some experts the U.S. factory and service job exodus is not over yet.  CNN Money weighs in on the report as well.

Writing in the Washington Post on the report, blogger Peter Whoriskey says that outsourcing has caused fictional productivity gains.

Hard to believe it’s been a quarter of a century already, but Subaru this week announced it is celebrating 25 years of auto manufacturing in the U.S.

Following months of howling on the part of this country’s solar panel industry, the U.S. Department of Commerce this week imposed import duties on Chinese-made panels.  The Washington Post, meanwhile, called the duties “low” and claims they disappointed a number of American solar panel execs, who had hoped for much larger, more broad-based tariffs.

One blogger reports that in announcing the duties, the Commerce Department also decreed that if found China had illegally subsidized its domestic solar power industry.

CBS News tells us that because the duties were lower than expected, stock prices actually rose for many companies in China’s solar power industry.

And the San Jose Mercury-News tells us that as the solar industry is heading to that Silicon Valley city for a major trade show, many senior people in that business are claiming they’re also headed for a trade war with China.

If you’re into tooling, don’t miss this two-part blog on some of the high-risk practices at work in Chinese manufacturing.  Here’s part one.  And here’s part two.

Diaper manufacturing giant Kimberly-Clark announced this week it is expanding its presence in China.

Proctor & Gamble followed suit with an annoucement of a giant plant of its own in China.

One Chinese executive told an audience recently that his country has been plunged into a low-cost trap.

Talk about specialization. General Electric this week announced it would open a manufacturing facility in Louisville, KY dedicated to the manufacture of french door refrigerators.

Last week I reported that playwright and actor Mike Daisey was being taken to task by the producers of the award-winning NPR series This American Life, as well as creator Ira Glass for what amounted to series of falsehoods, lies and mis-representations reported as fact in his one man show, The Agony and the Ecstacy of Steve Jobs.  The show details the mistreatment of Chinese workers being paid to assemble a number of Apple products.  This week, Entertainment Weekly reports on what Daisey wrote in his blog on the incident.  Do yourself a favor, though.  Listen to Glass’ unabashed apology and retraction which appeared on this past week’s edition of This American Life, as well as his in-your-face one-on-one with a less-than-contrite Daisey.

Also, don’t miss what the New York Times had to say about the whole Daisey/TAL affair, calling it “theater disguised as journalism.”

Or for that matter, check out what Max Fisher, associate editor of the Atlantic Monthly had to say about what has become a truly polarizing and remarkably divisive story.

Suprisingly, Apple Insider offered up a somewhat fair and balanced account of the Daisey’s willingness to blue the lines between theater and journalism and TAL’s subsequent retraction.

And just when you thought you’d heard the last of the solar power news, a Canadian solar energy executive claimed this week that the U.S. could actually benefit from inexpensive Chinese solar panels.

With respect to the whole rare earth minerals debate, a blog called Daily Tech asks is the U.S. is being unfair to China?

Meanwhile a blog called Metal Miner asks “Can U.S. Manufacturing Grow in Times of Price and Policy Uncertainty?”

The EE Times reports that the optoelectronics industry is attempting to mount something of a comeback in this country.

To some it might sound a little simplistic, but here’s a blog that contends that country-of-origin labels could impact consumer behavior and trigger a resurgence in U.S. manufacturing.

Chicago Tribune blogger Steve Chapman sees a whole lot of election year rhetoric behind what both parties are saying when it comes to their respective plans to revitalize American manufacturing.

Writing in Plastics Today, plastics industry veteran Clare Goldsberry claims that when it comes to the U.S. manufacturing economy, they’re still trying to put lipstick on this pig.

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