In regard to its recent decision, Carrier Senior Vice President of Operations Ted Amyuni commented that it was essential to Carrier's competitiveness and growth. With more than 80 percent of container refrigeration products currently shipped to Asia, Carrier decided it needed to be located closer to its markets, he said. Carrier's container refrigeration needs will now be served by its existing manufacturing plant in Singapore, while its compressor needs will be handled by plants now operating in Georgia and China.
At first glance, it appears Carrier's move is the sign of the manufacturing times, as pointed out in "Securing America's Future: The Case for a Strong Manufacturing Base." This thorough study, prepared by Popkin for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Council of Manufacturing Associations, tracks the impact of U.S. manufacturers moving their operations to locations outside the United States.
The study concludes in its executive summary: "If the U.S. manufacturing base continues to shrink at its present rate and the critical mass is lost, the manufacturing innovation process will shift to other global cultures. Once that happens, a decline in U.S. living standards in the future is virtually assured."
Pretty strong words.
Sad StatisticsAccording to the June 2003 report, the most serious challenges to the long-term viability of the U.S. manufacturing base and the innovation process that underlie it are:
Contractors can certainly identify with those last two challenges. Like manufacturers, they seek more skilled workers and face rising costs. In the case of manufacturers, however, one could argue that the stakes might be higher. Or, so hints Popkin and Co.
"The United States is losing ground in world merchandise trade, particularly vis-Ã -vis countries whose currency and other policies discourage imports," the report states. "Parts of the U.S. manufacturing sector, such as those that produce raw and primary products, are no longer building new facilities here. These are signs that dramatic change is underway. The question is whether the change is cyclical or will it become the long-term trend."
That is the question.
Mark Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-362-0317 (fax), or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication date: 10/27/2003