Let us cast our minds back to the 1800’s right up till the 1970’s. Is there anything specific that strikes you about that period? One thing that evidently associates with the United States of America (U.S.A.) in this period is its leadership in the manufacturing industry. This was the place where the Industrial Revolution took birth. Factories started to manufacture large quantities of goods in limited time frames. The technology standards of those times could not match the standards that prevail today, but American firms still managed to pump out large quantities. The quality of the goods was another star performer, helping American goods top the list in terms of customer preferences. This phenomenal growth was not restricted to any specific sector. Firms in such sectors as power generation, automotive, printing, textiles, ship building, aerospace, etc. played their respective roles to help America rule the roost.
The tale of the manufacturing industry of the twenty first century is completely different. As various economies have raised their heads amidst the competition, the American manufacturing industry seems to have beaten a retreat. Much of the global needs and the local U.S. needs are being catered to by foreign manufacturers. Take an example of cars. Japan seems to have become the preferred choice of many car buyers. People trust Japanese cars for their performance and reliability. On the other hand, electronic goods and many other manufactured items are being shipped from China. Some of the top fabric manufacturers are outsourcing their requirements to India. Additionally, India is also supplying many of the manhole covers that the country requires. In short, the American industry seems to have lagged behind these emerging economies because of several different reasons.
So, why exactly is this transformation occurring? There are many experts who have shared their thoughts on this issue. The common perception among many of them is that American industry hasn’t managed to meet the costs offered by the emerging economies. Customers, today, are discreet in their buying patterns, and aren’t willing to purchase goods at higher prices than what are available somewhere else. Moreover, some other experts believe that American products’ innovation (or lack of it) also seems to be an impediment in the industry’s path to success. The rise of Japan in the car industry is a prime example of how innovation and focus on quality has helped a country outsmart the established players from U.S.A.
Here are some quick solutions that one can offer to the American manufacturers. This is on the basis of what many of the experts have said in the past. These, by no means, are comprehensive and many other solutions might also be available.
This had to be one of the critical points. There was a time when American cars were known around the world for their quality. However, they could not sustain their standing. This could have been caused due to complacency. Therefore, being nimble (in terms of adapting to new scenarios) and willing to think out-of-the-box is imperative.
Also, American manufacturers need to benchmark the competition. They need to find out what the competition is doing that can help them take a lead. There was a company which, for long, didn’t know why its products couldn’t match the cost efficiencies of its main competitor. Upon researching exhaustively about the same, it realized that its outdated wire rope rigging process was piling up the cost for the company. Therefore, opportunities and threats can lie anywhere.
Technology is imperative to thrive in the modern competitive environment. Therefore, American manufacturing industry needs to ensure that it is making use of high-end technology.
Finally, some form of government support might also be necessary to help firms, in the manufacturing industry, outsmart their competition.