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editorial E


Are You Following GE?


T ‘‘


he cover story in the December 2012 issue of T e Atlantic, “T e Insourcing Boom,” provides North American manufacturers some unexpected


positive news. T e article details General Electric’s (GE) return to U.S. manufacturing for a large amount of its appliance business through the redevelopment of its Appliance Park in Louisville, Ky. T e article states the actions of GE are “not alone” in the “startling, sustainable, just-getting- started return of industry to the United States.” For many manufacturers, GE is a customer. In


many markets, GE also is the poster child for sourcing components and assembly manufacturing to low-cost nations. As a result, I am sure this article perks up


Time will tell if this is the beginning of a sustainable shift in U.S. manufacturing. But I believe all manufacturers watch the actions of a fi rm like GE, and people follow a leader.”


your interest because this type of proclamation from this large of a manufacturer is important. But the article isn’t without debate. T e question


is if GE’s actions are part of an overall movement, or just the steps of one major OEM. T e U.S. trade defi cit data doesn’t support the hypothesis that there is a movement. Leading economists say a movement will not occur until Washington D.C. becomes more “manufacturing friendly.” Time will tell if this is the beginning of a sustainable shift in U.S. manufacturing. But I believe all manufacturers watch the actions of a fi rm like GE, and people follow a leader. In fact, Whirlpool, Otis and Wham-O are listed in the article as other prominent members of the reshoring movement. Beyond the overall positive vibe of this article, other


insights from GE provide food for thought as you continue to evolve your business to meet new customer demands. In particular, when discussing product life cycle, two key points were discussed that already may be having a profound eff ect on your business.


“Just a few years ago, the design of a new range


or refrigerator was assumed to last seven years. Now, says Lou Lenzi (who heads design for all GE appliances), GE’s managers fi gure no model will be good for more than two to three years… Products that once seemed mature—from stoves to greeting cards—are being reinvigorated with cheap computing technology.” T is reiterates the need for you to have a strong and dependable supply chain that can adapt to your ever-changing designs and needs. Rapid sourcing solutions including rapid (re)design, rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturing must be part of the daily routine to ensure the ability to meet your internal manufacturing needs. “T e addition of high-tech components to


everyday items makes production more complicated, and that means U.S. production is more attractive… And the short leap from one product generation to the next makes the alchemy among engineers, marketers, and factory workers all the more important.” T is reality to GE is another nod to the


importance of a dependable supply chain. In addition, it speaks volumes to the importance of open, two-way communication between you and your supply chain. Our “Purchasing Points” column on p. 47 explores this idea further to provide more food for thought. T e question this article leaves us with is whether the experience of GE is a roadmap for manufacturers or just an isolated case. Our own experiences will provide the answer soon.


Alfred Spada, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief


If you have any comments about this editorial or any other item that appears in Metal Casting Design & Purchasing, email me at aspada@afsinc.org.


Jan/Feb 2013 | METAL CASTING DESIGN & PURCHASING | 7


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