A new day for manufacturing in America?

Whether it is or isn't is entirely up to you

I would be surprised if anyone reading this is not worried that manufacturing — and machining — in the United States is dying.

Competition is tougher than ever, and so many local newspapers constantly say manufacturing is dead that it's hard to believe otherwise. On the other hand, I recently heard an economist — Alan Beaulieu — who pointed out that, in 2005, U.S. manufacturing — much of it based on machined products — represented 35 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. The GDP is the total of all goods and services produced in the United States. The current percentage, Beaulieu said, is the most that manufacturing has contributed to the U.S. economy at any time since World War II. He can say that because he has facts to back him up.

That may be good news, but if you're feeling squeezed by contract manufacturers in China, India — even Canada — it's bound to feel like someone else's good news.

That's why we are launching an initiative that we call "American Machinist for American Manufacturing."

It's a no-nonsense program to provide you with the information you need to keep up with traditional competitors across town or downstate, and also with your new competitors from around the world.

This is not China bashing. It's not whining. It's not wishing for a return to a time when it was just easier to make a buck.

It's about reality: the reality that you have more competition than ever before, that there are more ways to compete than on price alone, and that there is always more you can do to manage price too.

Starting next month, you'll see stories labeled with the "AM for American Manufacturing" logo. That will be your indication that the story is, at its essence, about competing better. It may be about cutting techniques or about managing processes.

In addition to manufacturing effectiveness, this initiative also covers three areas that are important but largely out of your control:

  • Workforce preparedness
  • International trade policy
  • Domestic regulation.

We won't spend as much time covering those issues, because AM for American Manufacturing is, at its core, about empowerment — providing information you can use to decide how you're going to compete more effectively tomorrow than you did today.

American Manufacturing is not dead. It's not even dying. But if it's not exactly in the best shape it's ever been, nobody else is going to come along and make it better. That's up to you. And us. Together.

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