Manufacturing plays a big part in the modern economy. It is where ideas become products that businesses and consumers need or desire. Now, manufacturing itself can happen just about anywhere. However, the concepts and technologies which drive modern manufacturing are not something that can happen in a vacuum. The development of advanced manufacturing requires a close relationship between research facilities and manufacturing centers.
Manufacturing during the last 20 years
In the past couple of decades, major manufacturing companies have been moving their main facilities overseas, while keeping their research into advanced manufacturing in the States. However, it has been found that this method is not sustainable long term.
Take China as an example. Many manufacturers built factories there over the past 20 years and moved major parts of their operations there. What was lacking was research into advanced manufacturing technology. These manufacturers assumed that research would be done in North America and imported to China. However, what really happened was a bit different.
China began developing its own research network into advanced manufacturing technologies. They created research facilities and shared their knowledge with companies that were doing manufacturing there. This knowledge made research in North America somewhat obsolete. With everything available locally, why go overseas?
The lesson learned
The developments in China highlight a critical lesson being learned by manufacturers based in the States: Innovation is critical for manufacturing. However, this innovation cannot be done in one place with the thought of taking it elsewhere. It works best when local manufacturers can test the technology with innovators close at hand. Innovation requires a deep pool of experienced talent to succeed.
Such networks are very common in areas with specialized manufacturing. For example, take auto manufacturing. There is a plant that assembles the cars. There are suppliers which provide parts to the plant. There are experienced workers who work for both the plant and the suppliers. There are also research centers which help manufacturers and suppliers with advanced technologies.
The link between manufacturing and innovation
Apple has been seen as an innovation leader for a while now. Consumers love the innovation. Investors love the fact that Apple does not have a heavy infrastructure investment. Apple contracts with manufacturers in China to do the actual work.
The problem is that designing a product in the U.S. and having it manufactured in China is not as easy as it sounds. Apple’s lead designers spend a good deal of time in China, especially during the first runs of a new product. The company needs to know that their designs are actually turning out as expected.
Also, Apple owns the actual manufacturing lines that the Chinese manufacturers use. They aren’t taking the chance that poor manufacturing decisions are going to produce a defective product that would not live up to Apple’s reputation.
What does all of this mean? The United States must have a solid manufacturing base with research facilities to remain a leader in innovation.
If you are looking to move your advanced manufacturing operations to Southeast Colorado, then consider the town of La Junta. La Junta Economic Development (LJED) supports businesses that are expanding or relocating to the greater Southeastern Colorado area. The community boasts a revitalized and vibrant downtown, ample open spaces, excellent schools, and amenities that rival those of major cities. To learn more about the region and how La Junta Economic Development can assist your business, contact us today. Give us a call at (719) 384-6965 or Contact Us via email.