Thoughts on the world of manufacturing
The larger take-a-way is more that most companies have outsourced so many key components of their products, they are in a way no longer the producer but only an assembler. For Apple you can argue they still are the brain behind most of it, and Apple product are short-lived enough anyway, to redesign something. But in the pasta maker case, they were pretty much an empty holding company that only holds the brand name. And then when the actual producer of the product doesn't get enough of the profit share, the product seizes to exist.
Too much outsourcing means, you are not the producer, and can lose it all in a heartbeat.
In my industry there is a woven type material i buy made in TX. When the machine starting breaking they had to find a guy to fix it. Thing is he was retired and did come and fix the machine, but what happens when he's passed?
All the other competitors are in Brazil or China. We don't make stuff anymore. In Canada we buy and sell each other overpriced homes.
Fascinating. I see this sort of problem in the printing world. The U.S. has fewer machines than it used to. They’re mostly old, and the skilled operators are too. To invest in new machines is too costly. It’ll be interesting to see what publishing looks like from that perspective in the next 10 to 30 years. They’ll figure it out, but it won’t look like it does or did.
This was extremely interesting; thank you!
I agree with several of the other posters. The tool and die work for this is simple and not that expensive. Ditto for Apple's screws. There is a real lack of young tool and die guys but that is at the high end of the trade like Injection Molding and such.
The pasta dies can be CAD designed and CNC cut in a couple hours. There is a lot of skill and knowledge that has been lost but I think some deeper digging is required to get to the truth of this story.
This speaks precisely to a problem people are not aware of. WW2 was won because of the manufacturing capability of the U.S. to produce the machines of war. Aircraft, ships, motor vehicles, etc. etc. What country in the world now has these factories? Heaven help us if there is a future war.
Manufacturing worker productivity investments like those seen at Tesla take longer to amortize than most MBAs and financial analysts are willing to wait, leading to offshoring jobs. Real innovation comes from direct manufacturing floor contact, so the domestic manufacturing issues compound.
Skills that touch reality will not be replaced by machines. Making real things is hard. I will say though, that there are a lot of companies in the US that would have been able to make the machines to make the screws/dies/whatever but the search to find them requires someone who knows something about reality, not a purchasing manager with a desktop. Our business leaders have been trained to neglect reality for generations now. We await their failure.
Actually there’s CNC machines referred to as ‘screw machines ‘ that could easily make 10,000 tiny screws per eight hour shift. Also making dies is a piece of cake, getting people to pay the money required is the problem. That’s the problem with American manufacturing people want a living wage. If people make a living wage there’s not enough left at the top for the fat cat sitting around office buildings to make free money off of.
Absolute and utter NONSENSE! The critical thinking approach to problem solving with old-school "knob-turning tool making" is what has been lost. But, these abilities can be recovered quickly with relatively simple, psychometric testing of high school students. The approaches necessary for creative problem solving along with a one's mind "seeing" in three dimensional space are all that's required. Ask me how I know...
No comment on additive manufacturing?
"First, the tiny screws that killed Apple’s attempt to make computers and smartphones in America."
This seems like a mis-read by Stan Schroeder in Mashable of the original New York Times article?
While that's paywalled, my quick glimpse of the latter suggested that this issue with getting sufficient quantities of custom screws from US suppliers was *illustrative* of Apple's problems in building Mac Pros at a Texas-based factory. (It wasn't the "straw that broke the camel's back.")
(It seems obvious on reflection that if that were the sole issue, or even the main one, Apple could have just outsourced those small parts to foreign factories, and continued assembling those computers – and/or continued to make the bulk of their parts – domestically.)
I thought you were going to say something about the ability to get the correct type of flour or grain in order to make it. I wanted to know what had changed and how it would impact everyday baking or products we buy that are already made.
I had to do a whole head gear change.
I was pleasantly surprised! Very good and thought provoking. I'll have to read your other liked articles now.
Fun?! Depressing. But thanks very much for posting.
There's a similar problem with getting forgings made. At one point there were forging shops throughout the US. But due to a number of factors, they are pretty much gone, and the few still in existence are pretty much booked up.
The largest forging capacity is now in China, not just cheaper, much EASIER to get it done promptly over there.