Contracts that were preciously awarded to the lowest bidder in places such as China are now returning to those US companies who have mastered the art of working smarter, as well as harder. Certainly all the "easy" work is gone forever, yet there is a huge demand for high quality, sophisticated and proprietary products.Plastic molding and mold making companies who have managed to survive the drastic changes that have occurred in manufacturing over the past two decades are in a very good position to prosper in the future. The purging of inefficient companies has been brutal, with possibly 50% of US plastic molding companies going out of business during this time period.
Nevertheless, by using the principles and practices of lean manufacturing, many businesses are now growing and expanding, even in a depressed economy. This is evidence of the success of focusing on reducing waste of every imaginable type. Usually we think of trying to work harder and faster in order to be more efficient, yet by reducing wasted motion, space, time and effort even greater gains in productivity are realized.
Another factor that has forced US companies to use lean manufacturing processes is the lack of skilled workers. Because so few companies could afford to train apprentices during the past 20 years, there is a dire shortage of skilled workers, such as injection mold makers, molding technicians, and CNC machinists.This critical shortage of skilled workers has forced progressive manufacturing companies to become even more innovative and strategic in their use of machines, time, space and their employees.
By employing the time tested principles of lean manufacturing, US companies can and do successfully compete with low labor cost Asian competitors.