Saturday, May 19th, 2012

More U.S Companies Are Looking to Manufacture at Home. Harry Moser Is Helping Them Decide … and You Can Too

Boston Consulting Group, which continually monitors manufacturing reshoring activity, recently released the results of a survey it did asking large ($1-billion-plus) U.S. companies if they were planning to bring back production to the USA from China or considering it. Thirty-seven percent of the 106 responding said yes, and 48 percent of those companies with at least $10 billion in revenue said reshoring was planned or being “actively considered.”

The reshoring trend is not easy to quantify but another good indicator is media coverage. News stories and feature articles about reshoring have become  frequent over the last six months. From the NY Times and the Christian Science Monitor to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, ManufacturingNet, the Financial Times, and PBS, the stories saying manufacturing is on a strong upswing in America keep coming. USA Today wrote about it a few days ago.

The Financial Times article described televisions being assembled in the US by an American company, Element Electronics, at its factory in Canton, MI. I know I was not alone in thinking that business was gone forever. The article did not mention any of Element’s suppliers, but it is likely that a nearby molder may be supplying plastic components and housings.

Most frequently cited among the many motives for the increased reshoring activity is China’s rising labor costs. But there is one reason for this trend that, although not precisely an economic factor, deserves a goodly share of the credit. His name is Harry Moser. Following 22 years as president of Charmilles Technologies, now GF Agie Charmilles, Moser found himself seriously concerned with the reduced state of American manufacturing. So he founded the Reshoring Initiative, which provides practical help to American companies wanting to compete against China and other low-cost zones.

Moser believes that when companies see what it really costs them to go offshore—the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for a given project—they very often will decide to not go, and also may reshore work previously placed offshore. On the Reshoring Initiative’s website companies you will find Moser’s TCO Estimator, an online software tool that enables a user to determine the true TCO for a project. The no-cost TCO Estimator already has hundreds of users, and the website’s library of 260 reshoring case studies gives users useful references. A goodly number of them are plastics projects.

The Reshoring Initiative has gained the support of 35 corporations and associations, including SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association. Moser has presented TCO to appreciative audiences at several SPI events. All told he made 105 speaking presentations during 2011 and expects to make about 120 during 2012. In early May he presented TCO at the US Commerce

Department’s NIST/MEP Conference and confirmed that Commerce is developing a website devoted to reshoring and TCO. The Reshoring Initiative is already linked to the www.manufacturing.gov website.

Moser’s Reshoring Initiative is going full tilt and showing results, but we all can and should pitch in. It’s easy to make an impact. For starters, Moser encourages you to get your company to investigate the TCO of existing reshoring and projects in the planning stage. Then encourage other companies you know, and link from your website to www.reshorenow.org. Also, send in any case studies of reshoring to enhance the online reference library.

In recognition of his work, Harry Moser has been inducted into the Industry Week Manufacturing Hall of Fame, and Quality magazine awarded him the Quality Professional of the Year title—both awards richly deserved.

Reshoring’s momentum is rising. Let’s help move it along.

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