HARVARD: Bringing Manufacturing Back to the U.S. Is Easier Said Than Done


We strongly recommend you read this several times, relate it to your own market and supply chain, discuss it with your staff and join us later this year when we attack this opportunity directly……we're here, we're near, and we know what we're doing…Mike Todaro 

Bringing Manufacturing Back to the U.S. Is Easier Said Than Done
by Willy C. Shih, HBR: April 15, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has raised a critical question: Why does the United States not have the capacity to manufacture many products for which there is a sudden urgent need — everything from critical care ventilators, N95 face masks, and personal protective equipment to everyday items like over-the-counter pain relievers? Of course, the United States is still a manufacturing powerhouse in many sectors, but it surprises many people that a huge number of everyday basic items have to be imported. The current pandemic-related shortages have fueled calls from political leaders of both parties for U.S. manufacturers to start producing critical supplies domestically.

The issue is complex and defies easy solutions. The challenge lies in a combination of how modern supply networks are structured and the operational metrics applied to manufacturers. Taken together, the United States and other advanced industrial economies have evolved a highly efficient and productive product manufacturing-and-delivery system that provides them with a cornucopia of products at relatively low costs. But inherent in that system are dependencies and expectations that the pandemic has called into question.

Modern products require high degrees of specialization.
The days are long gone when a single vertically-integrated manufacturer like Ford or General Motors could design and manufacture all or most of the subassemblies and components it needs to make a finished product. Technology is just too complicated, and it is impossible to possess all the skills that are necessary in just one place. Consequently, manufacturers have turned to specialists and subcontractors who narrowly focus on just one area — and even those specialists have to rely on many others. And just as the world has come to rely on different regions for natural resources like iron ore or lithium metal, so too has it become dependent on regions where these specialists reside. Read More