A highlight of President Trump’s campaign and these earliest months of his administration has been his push to get American manufacturing moving again. It’s undeniably sound economic logic; manufacturing jobs have good wages, good retirement plans, and contribute greatly to the overall economic engine of the country.
The problem is very simple. These jobs have left American companies for some reasons that are also economically sound, the main one being simply that it’s cheaper to produce those goods overseas and import them to the U.S.
In order for American manufacturing to see a revival, there will have to be some changes made in the sphere of domestic commerce. Only with these adjustments made will there be a favorable climate for manufacturing to expand.
Improved Techniques & Equipment
American manufacturing came of age in a time of plenty. Fuel was cheap, steel was plentiful, and there was lots of available land for construction. As things have evolved on the world stage, scarcity has intruded and forced companies to make other plans.
Some steps have already been taken, and their impact is being seen. Equipment was once used until it broke down and was replaced. Now there are new materials that are extending the life of equipment. The website ajweller.com describes how the materials work in the high-wear areas of machinery. Much like reinforced knees on a pair of pants, these components are made from alloys with a higher level of durability. This allows them to withstand more work and keeps the rest of the machine in operation.
Exploiting Competitive Advantages
Some geographic areas are just positioned to be more efficient at certain things. For example, we know that a lot of furniture is manufactured in North Carolina. That’s because the area was naturally populated with trees that made quality furniture. It would have been inefficient to attempt to build furniture in a state like Kansas, which has far fewer good trees.
The United States has competitive advantages over other countries, and building the manufacturing base here will require that those advantages be identified and utilized. What raw materials are most plentiful in the U.S.? What does our work force have the most experience doing? What items are most costly to ship from other countries? Working through these questions, the American manufacturing sector will be able to identify what specialties they should focus on in order to have the best shot at the world market.
Identifying New Products
A strong manufacturing economy doesn’t have to churn out cars and refrigerators. Any form of product is an opportunity to employ American workers.
The United States has long been a leader in technology. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and many others have built legendary tech companies in the United States. As new ideas like 3D printing and improved smartphones continue to develop, the United States could play a big role in their manufacture.
A hidden industry that doesn’t get discussed a lot in manufacturing is agriculture. The U.S. has huge quantities of farmland and experienced, high-tech people operating those farms. Any product that could utilize American farm products–think biofuels as just one example–would be manufactured here far more competitively than in a country that doesn’t grow the requisite raw material.
Keeping American manufacturing nimble in the world market will not be easy. But as a relatively young nation, the United States has always had to react faster than its established competitors. The changing economy presents challenges, but a good strategy will help America thrive. The key will be to find the areas where manufacturing can produce goods the cheapest, then to build from there.