If You Can Make It Here …

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If You Can Make It Here … – New York Times:

Here is a surprisingly positive article on American manufacturing, including Harley. The article points out that the U.S. is still #1 in the world in manufacturing, as a percentage of global manufacturing, and that the percentage has only dropped from 24.6% in 1982 to 23.8% today. For Harley, in particular, “We have more domestic content than we had 15 years ago,” Mr. Levatich said, “but it is a very fluid situation, very dynamic right now.”

“But maintaining job security while shaving labor content keeps Harley on a difficult treadmill. Production has to rise continuously – and sales, too, of course – as automation reduces the labor required to make each motorcycle. Enough additional motorcycles must be manufactured to absorb workers who are idled by the automation, thus keeping the number of workers constant.”

This also applies to lean manufacturing, not just automation. As kaizen activity frees up workers, the traditional lean model is to re-deploy them to a growth area, rather than laying them off (which would kill their incentive to drive further improvements, seeing co-workers laid off).

The article also mentions the benefits of having American suppliers close by, for design changes and iterations, doing that quickly, etc.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent book is the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. His latest book has been released as an "in-progress" book, titled Measures of Success.

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