Tagmanufacturing

The Future of Manufacturing is Local

iPad covers manufacture

Good stuff, but I couldn’t help getting this icky “all those people who have been downsized and laid-off and otherwise had their lives destroyed by the hollowing out of the U.S. economy just just need to shut-up, stop complaining and pull themselves up by their bootstraps” vibe from the article.

“Manufacturing isn’t dead and doesn’t need to be preserved,” she says. “Let’s stop fixating on what’s lost. Let’s see what we have here, what’s doing well, and let’s help those folks do better.” […]

SFMade helps companies assess a product’s “manufacturability,” which sometimes results in an adjustment of (for instance) the design, to make it easier and less costly to manufacture. SFMade will then help companies either connect to existing contract manufacturing resources in the city or establish their own production capacity. Instead of assuming that things like sewing, printing and assembly need to happen overseas, SFMade is working to reconnect local production capacity to big companies (i.e., San Francisco-based Levi’s, exploring the possibility of local sample production). Other large San Francisco-based corporations have initiated relationships with SFMade, like Bank of America (which felt it had lost its footing as a “local” business) and Virgin America (which features local products for sale onboard its aircraft and in their San Francisco terminal). […]

Similar efforts are happening in New York (and indeed, The Times’ City Blog spotlighted the things still made in the city, from lightbulbs to envelopes, in the Made in N.Y.C. series two years ago). Though it launched post-9/11 as a strategy to lift the city back up, Made in N.Y.C. has evolved over time. Sustainability has become a large part of its mission: member companies can post the environmental impacts of their manufacturing processes on the Made in N.Y.C. Web site, with those excelling in greener process and product able to earn a “green apple.” Tying economic growth inextricably to environmental stewardship has so far been a strong strategy.

New York Times: The Future of Manufacturing Is Local

(via Chris)

How business schools undermine American manufacturing

Another piece in the puzzle:

One of the themes that came up while I was profiling White House manufacturing czar Ron Bloom earlier this fall was managerial talent. A lot of people talk about reviving the domestic manufacturing sector, which has shed almost one-third of its manpower over the last eight years. But some of the people I spoke to asked a slightly different question: Even if you could reclaim a chunk of those blue-collar jobs, would you have the managers you need to supervise them?

It’s not obvious that you would. Since 1965, the percentage of graduates of highly-ranked business schools who go into consulting and financial services has doubled, from about one-third to about two-thirds. And while some of these consultants and financiers end up in the manufacturing sector, in some respects that’s the problem. Harvard business professor Rakesh Khurana, with whom I discussed these questions at length, observes that most of GM’s top executives in recent decades hailed from a finance rather than an operations background. (Outgoing GM CEO Fritz Henderson and his failed predecessor, Rick Wagoner, both worked their way up from the company’s vaunted Treasurer’s office.) But these executives were frequently numb to the sorts of innovations that enable high-quality production at low cost. As Khurana quips, “That’s how you end up with GM rather than Toyota.” […]

After World War II, large corporations went on acquisition binges and turned themselves into massive conglomerates. In their landmark Harvard Business Review article from 1980, “Managing Our Way to Economic Decline,” Robert Hayes and William Abernathy pointed out that the conglomerate structure forced managers to think of their firms as a collection of financial assets, where the goal was to allocate capital efficiently, rather than as makers of specific products, where the goal was to maximize quality and long-term* market share.

The New Republic: Upper Mismanagement

Distributed Manufacturing Beyond Trinkets

Primary good that can be presnetly produced via Ponoko: a bat box. Sounds simple, admittedly, but it’s well suited to the current production capabilities of Ponoko. Additionally, this qualifies as a “primary good” precisely because, by housing bats in one’s yard, it’s possible to 1) control insect populations, and 2) accumulate valuable fertilizer from the bats for use in localized food production. Bee hives and relate systems are another good example, though the need for wire mesh is slightly beyond the current Ponoko capabilities. Another: cold frames. Worm farm. The list goes on.

Primary good that can be produced via Ponoko with modifications to its capabilities: A hand pump. This would probably require the ability to work with metal, in both sheet and tube form. I recognize that this is well beyond the current capability of Ponoko, but it’s not theoretically that big of a change. Also, if you added the ability to work with sheet metal and pipes/tubing, the universe of potential “primary” goods would open quite quickly (e.g. solar water heaters, stoves, etc.).

Jeff Vail: Distributed Manufacturing Beyond Trinkets

U.S. Manufacturing Declines to Lower Level Since 1948

The decline in U.S. manufacturing deepened in December as demand for such products as cars, appliances and furniture reached the lowest level since at least 1948, signaling further cutbacks in factory jobs and production this year.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index fell to 32.4, below economists’ forecasts and the lowest level since 1980, from 36.2 the prior month. Readings less than 50 signal contraction. The group’s new-orders measure reached the lowest level on record and prices slid the most since 1949.

Full Story: Bloomberg

(via Cryptogon)

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