In this article, Fortune business writer Tory Newmyer reports on a recent speech by highly regarded Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter. Porter was speaking in Charlotte, N.C., at an event sponsored by Duke Energy and Verizon, about some “very, very disturbing trends” he sees emerging in our economy.
The context of his view was based on his research on the fraying of American competitiveness. The evidence he presented was not a one-time fall, but a problem with U.S. productivity that he claims has been in process over the past 20 years. In short, he believes that U.S. industries exposed to international competition have created no new jobs for decades.
“This is a real, real issue facing this county and we’ve got to tackle it. We can’t hope that we’ll just have a recovery and things are going back to the way they were,” he said.
Porter’s research, which included a survey of 50,000 Harvard Business School alumni, lead him to the conclusion that American productivity is not strong enough to justify higher labor costs and other variables here in the U.S. He attributed the competitiveness problem to many factors, including the strides the less developed countries have made in education, infrastructure and improving governmental interference or corruption.
The take away from his message that is most poignant in my mind is that we in the U.S. are improving, but we need to improve much more quickly if we are to regain our former advantage in the world economy. In his view, the phenomenon of offshoring is not something that calls for blame. It’s just the way things work in a global economy.
This month, Northeast Ohio manufacturers have an excellent opportunity to learn more about exciting new global business opportunities at the upcoming NEO World Trade Conference, on Thursday, Sept. 27 at Executive Caterers. The half-day event includes a luncheon, two keynote presentations, several break-out tracks on specific topics like Helping Medical Manufacturers Access Foreign Markets, Eurozone Impact on NEO Companies, Global Financial Outlook and Government Support for Exporters.
The conference is sponsored by Crain’s Cleveland Business and co-sponsored by MAGNET. Check out the conference agenda. I hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to learn from international business experts and to network with other developing global businesses.
HEADLINE The survey definitively shows that product innovation leads to more growth, while “grow your own workforce” strategies will be needed to fill the major labor shortages hampering small manufacturer growth. Emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, and digital manufacturing are beginning to enhance innovation and productivity, but still have significant room for adoption amongst Ohio’s small manufacturing businesses. ABOUT THE SURVEY Under the direction of the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Ohio MEP), MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network conducted a thorough survey of Ohio’s manufacturing base. Contributing approximately 20% of Ohio’s jobs (and driving in some regions up to 50% of Ohio’s economy), and generating a disproportionate amount of export revenues and Gross Regional Product, manufacturing is critical to Ohio. Greater than 95% of Ohio’s manufacturers are small (under 500 employees), and these manufacturers need to remain competitive both nationally and internationally to ensure our economy’s health. Ohio’s Development Services Agency and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which runs the MEP, recognizes the importance of this sector and fuels MAGNET and the Ohio MEP program to directly serve and support innovation, efficiency, and growth in small and medium manufacturers. What manufacturers need
How Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Can Help Keep Our Engineers Safe and Our Manufacturing Strong Recall how difficult it was to put together complex LEGO creations when you were a child or helping a child. Now, picture assembling a fighter plane from a room full of parts. Even highly trained engineers can benefit from technology to help improve consistency and quality. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are making near-perfect assembly a possibility in the manufacturing space. By wearing AR glasses that use cameras, depth sensors and motion sensors to overlay images onto the real working environment, engineers and factory workers can visualize the exact bolts, parts, part numbers and instructions on how to assemble a particular component correctly. Lockheed Martin began using AR goggles and improved F-35 assembly time by 30 percent, in addition to increasing accuracy to 96 percent. In order to remain competitive, businesses should consider the ways VR and AR can improve efficiency and supply chain productivity. According to a recent BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report, AR platforms can provide companies up to 25 percent in cost savings on installation of equipment. Here are four ways VR/AR is disrupting the mid-market manufacturing space:
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