Reshoring is a popular topic in the manufacturing industry these days. In basic terms, this refers to the process of bringing manufacturing tasks/jobs back from so-called “low-cost” countries to North America. There are a number of organizations in the U.S. and Canada that are pushing some initiatives to bring manufacturing back home, and in the last few years, they have shown a lot more influence on some of the decisions that are made in a variety of industries.
The idea that manufacturing jobs are hard work, dirty, and only for unskilled laborers just doesn’t apply anymore (if it ever really did in the first place). Modern manufacturing processes require highly skilled individuals that have been trained in their relevant fields and built up an applicable skill set. These people will need to have the mind of an engineer and dedication to the job to keep up with the demands of increasingly dynamic industries.
Reshoring is becoming a more popular option now because many new graduates are starting to understand exactly what it will take to get into these jobs, and many companies require this kind of skilled labor to provide the best products possible.
Of course, we are also currently seeing rising labor rates in China, while North American manufacturing is simply far more productive than it was 10 or 20 years ago. With all the automation available here, the level of output has also increased, giving companies more reason to bring manufacturing home now.
Building and Keeping Skilled Personnel
Despite the current trend, it is still difficult to market manufacturing careers to new potential employees. It’s important to show these recent graduates what the industry is really like. The image of the “low level career option” just doesn’t fit anymore, and a new image has to be created to start developing the necessary in-house personnel.
Modern manufacturing is all computer-driven. This is the image that potential employees should see. Going into a manufacturing career means managing highly automated processes from a computer, not crawling under greasy machines and standing on a mass production line. Companies that do manage to attract the skilled peopled will still have to work hard to keep them. This means providing ongoing education and training in all the new changes in the industry and keeping up with the latest trends in technology.
Specialty Market Examples
Companies that manufacture niche items are a great example of the reshoring trend. The industrial spring market, for example, is seeing a lot of manufacturing come back to North America because many of the clients for these products require high-quality, specialized products that are customized to meet their needs. Generic torsion springs, for example, are of course available from Chinese manufacturers, but for more complex custom torsion springs, companies will need something more.
Modern spring manufacturers can produce custom springs in minutes from scratch and at a cost that is profitable to the company. In a fast-moving industry with companies needing products right away, they simply can’t afford to wait months for the boat to make it to shore and the springs to clear customs.
Reshoring will require a large workforce of skilled and educated people. It will be a long, slow process to make this happen, but the trend is becoming more and more apparent. Many industries can’t afford to look at manufacturing as a low paying career anymore, and they need to look for people that have the skills to handle new technologies and the ability to apply their knowledge to be even more productive.