Manufacturing's future? Nagoya, Japan & Germany: industry is on parade again. It's marching overseas. It's headed to China and India and we're all going to be movie stars, lawyers, accountants, short order cooks, and government workers. Manufacturing is passe, caput, history. Who needs it any way?Well, let me tell anyone who spouts such service economy nonsense (and their ranks are growing), manufacturing is what a modern, success-bound economy does. Manufacturing means the creation of wealth. The rest of us serve it. That's the real service economy. Consider these examples:
One is a statistic about Germany. It exports more than any other country, including the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. and Japan. Germany is a smaller country (80 million) than either 135 million Japanese or some 250 million of us. Yet, the Germans ship more manufactured wealth to the rest of the world than # 1 or #2. How is that so?
It's been national policy in Germany for generations that they concentrate on the most advanced manufacturing technologies and top quality products that the world will gladly buy. I recall an attorney friend of mine who was leaving on his first trip to Germany. He asked me what it was like. I said: "It's a very wealthy country." He asked: "How did they get so rich?" I asked him how he liked his new BMW BMW
in full Bayerische Motoren Werke AG
German automaker. Founded as an aircraft engine manufacturer in 1916, the company assumed the name Bayerische Motoren Werke and became known for its high-speed motorcycles in the 1920s. .
The second example is in a recent front-page article in the Wall Street Journal, Oct 11, 2005. It tells of the recent ending of the 15-year recession of the Japanese economy and the rise of top-notch, top quality manufacturing in the Nagoya area. That's what's called the "Central Area" of the big island of Honshu. It was often called the Midwest of Japan. It made everything. Then the recession hit, the Chinese and the Indians entered the picture and a lot of what was made in Japan was now made in those two new industrial powers or others from Taiwan to Mexico. The Central Area became the Rust Belt Rust Belt or Rustbelt, economic region in the NE quadrant of the United States, focused on the Midwestern (see Midwest) states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, as well as Pennsylvania. of Japan.
Much like the situation in this country, industrial activity was in decline and the pessimists were running the media show. Then something extraordinary happened along the road to manufacturing oblivion o·bliv·i·on
1. The condition or quality of being completely forgotten: "He knows that everything he writes is consigned to posterity (oblivion's other, seemingly more benign, face)" . A few years ago, the industrial community of Central Japan decided to think and to act. They decided that it did make sense for some kinds of manufacturing to leave Japan. It made absolutely no sense, however, for Japan to leave manufacturing. The less complex tasks, the low-end products went to the developing countries. The high-end, higher value-added activity remained at home. They also moved to greatly increase spending on R & D and to support their manufacturers in terms of making sure they had enough time and resources to invest heavily in advanced manufacturing.
Now something like this increased reliance on R & D spending and longer-term planning has often been proposed in the United States, but seemingly the terrific pressure of the quarterly financial statement keeps our publicly held industrial companies from such long-range strategic successes. Smaller shops like yours, of course, can't afford to plan very far ahead. It's difficult in our culture to talk about 5- or 10-year returns in industry. We want it all now--not great expectations. The Japanese and in some ways the Germans, however, have been investing in high-tech manufacturing as if their futures depended upon it. They do. So does ours'.
Wouldn't it be great if we could organize our own industrial leaders to re-invest in, to modernize mod·ern·ize
v. mo·dern·ized, mo·dern·iz·ing, mo·dern·iz·es
To make modern in appearance, style, or character; update.
To accept or adopt modern ways, ideas, or style. American industry instead of seemingly giving it all up and to enlist en·list
v. en·list·ed, en·list·ing, en·lists
1. To engage (persons or a person) for service in the armed forces.
2. To engage the support or cooperation of.
v. the passionate and educated support of our political class? Unfortunately, we have become a nation obsessed ob·sess
v. ob·sessed, ob·sess·ing, ob·sess·es
To preoccupy the mind of excessively.
v.intr. with everything but industrial success. Our attention is captured every day and every night Every Day and Every Night is the third record and the first EP by Nebraskan indie rock band Bright Eyes. It became the 30th release by Saddle Creek Records on November 1, 1999. by hurricanes, wars, crime and "injustice." We know more--by far--about movie stars and politicians than they or the American people An American people may be:
Yet, perhaps there's an opportunity here for all of us in the shop world. Perhaps if we started making a little more noise about what we do and got a few politicians interested in the modernization modernization
Transformation of a society from a rural and agrarian condition to a secular, urban, and industrial one. It is closely linked with industrialization. As societies modernize, the individual becomes increasingly important, gradually replacing the family, of American industry? If we could just start turning Americans' attention to how the Rust Belt didn't succeed in sinking Japan or Germany ... What do you think?
George Weimer, Contributing Editor A contributing editor is a magazine job title that varies in responsibilities. Most often, a contributing editor is a freelancer who has proven ability and readership draw.