From the Editor: Still Made in the USA

April 29, 2009
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As I write this, General Motors Corp. is preparing to lay off an additional 1,600 workers, to qualify for more government aid, and Chrysler LLC’s future is in question. With the number of layoffs and companies closing their doors in recent months, one has to wonder if anything is still made in the United States.

The answer is a resounding “Yes.” According to a recent report from the Associated Press (AP), the United States remains the world’s leading manufacturer by value of goods produced to the tune of a record high $1.6 trillion in 2007, which is nearly double the $811 billion reported for 1987. And, according to the report, for every $1 of value produced in China’s factories, America generates $2.50.

While wandering the aisles of any store in the United States, and noting that many of the items on the shelves are labeled as “Made in China,” it is hard to know what is still made here in the United States. According to the AP report, in 2007 the United States sold more than $200 billion in aircraft, missiles and space-related equipment; $80 billion in automobiles and auto parts; and $16.5 billion worth of only John Deere farm equipment-many of their products were sold for use by other countries.

Quality Magazine research supports the AP report. According to our 9th Annual State of the Profession study, respondents said that 50% of their company’s production was done offshore during the past 12 months, meaning that half is still done here in the United States. For more on our annual State of the Profession survey, make sure you read our July 2009 issue.

Even though the headlines report that many manufacturers are struggling right now, the fact of the matter is that manufacturing is still taking place in the United States and, as illustrated by the AP report, is very healthy. For those companies in industries that are struggling, now is the time to reassess the way you do things. Take this opportunity to plan for the future and make any overdue improvements to your quality and manufacturing processes.

By taking the time to make your processes more efficient now, when the tide turns you can hit the ground running-and ensure that you still offer products that are “Made in the USA.”

Have you started gearing up for change? Share your stories with me at campbellg@bnpmedia.com.

Quality Magazine has launched the Quality Magazine Group (http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1876808) on business-oriented networking site LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com. It is a place to discuss measurement, test, inspection, analysis, and quality management challenges and solutions. See the latest news, as well as opportunities to stay up-to-date on quality manufacturing education, The Quality Magazine Group also allows visitors to share information, ask questions, talk to our editors and staff, and share the latest information about quality and manufacturing technologies and techniques. We hope to see you there.

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