From the Shop Floor — The Week in Manufacturing (4/13/2012)

Container traffic in many U.S. ports indicates that consumer confidence in this country just might be on the rise.

Despite rising costs, when it comes to manufacturing China continues to dominate many markets.

The U.S. Wind Power Industry’s 2011 annual report details how stable policies and increasing demand have led to yet another year of double digit growth.

The NY Times reports that, as wages continue to increase in China, one German manufacturer of robots is taking advantage of the opportunity.  Meanwhile, Business Week weighed in on the story as well.

China’s price manipulation and the ongoing decline in the price of solar panels continues to squeeze many U.S. manufacturers.

Speaking of China, that country’s economic growth hit a three year low this past month.

Many experts are saying that politics are clashing with reality when to comes to China’s currency and certain aspect of the U.S. trade policy.

 The CEO of Hyundai US tells the Washington Post his company plans to go from punchline to player in the auto manufacturing industry.

In Colorado, legislators are debating whether to give construction companies who buy American a slight edge in competitive bids for certain state jobs.

Huffington Post, citing a recent report from IBIS World, lists ten dying American industries.

One of the ongoing conundrums of this new world market: while the economy continues to grow and consumer confidence and consumer spending continue to climb, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits this week was as high as it has been in two months.

Manufacturing Week reports that, as a result of spiraling costs and other factors, 50% of U.S. manufacturers surveyed claim they have moved at least part of their manufacturing operations out of China.

Still unable to make significant inroads into the younger upscale auto buying market in this country, Cadillac announced this week it will build three models for distribution in China.

Amid all the mis-information and hyperbolic rhetoric surrounding the Foxconn/Apple symbiotic relationship — much of it the product of Mike Daisey’s one-man hatchet job on Steve Jobs — many traditional media have moved in to seek a more balanced view of things.  Here’s one such report.

Speaking at a Whirlpool plant in Cleveland, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson told a gathering what many of us already know: that U.S. manufacturing continues to rebound. And while such a statement may sound like old news to you, me and many others in our business of manufacturing, that’s the kind of story that cannot be repeated enough, and the more it gets reported in the mainstream press the more it will take root in the heart and mind of the average American.

With all the emphasis on manufacturing imports, the NY Times wonders if more consideration shouldn’t be given to U.S. service providers.  Which, of course, goes to my point that politicians should stopy fretting so much about jobs, or goods, or even services.  Our focus as an economy — heck, as a country — should be on one thing:  exports.  Increase those, protect those and make those a priority and everything else will fall into place. 

Along those same lines, in the EE Times blogger George Leopold says American politicians and business leaders should stop worry so much about “manufacturing” and start focusing on “production.”  He claims the difference betwee the two is a subtle but meaningful distinction.

Two Dem lawmakers on the federal level were in Toledo this week carrying the party water and talking about how the stimulus package passed two years ago by a Democratic-led Congress helped trigger of level of re-birth in a handful of local companies serving the auto industry.

Leave a Reply