CEOs of companies facing global supply-chain challenges can find local solutions with U.S. suppliers, declared five American manufacturing trade associations in an open letter. The trade associations represent more than 3,500 companies in industries that employ more than 475,000 Americans.
The American Mold Builders Association, National Tooling & Machining Association, Precision Machined Products Association, Precision Metalforming Association, and Technology & Manufacturing Association stated in the open letter that their member companies “stand ready to assist those industries that are facing global supply-chain disruptions to help the economy continue its record growth.”
They went on to say that the “threats posed by uncertainty and disruption to global supply chains are real and not limited to the current headlines. This is not just about the current virus and temporary disruptions; it is about reliable supply chains in any circumstance.
“American companies that source inputs and equipment from across the globe can minimize disruption to their businesses by looking to domestic suppliers. Near-sourcing and reshoring business to the U.S. will not only help minimize current impacts, but will also mitigate future exposure to global challenges, all while tapping into America’s vast and innovative industrial base and supporting American workers.
“The American companies that make up our trade associations indicate a capacity utilization rate of 60 to 70 percent, meaning our manufacturers can meet current and future demand, helping companies grow and thrive.
“Our members are business leaders. They know that companies must constantly weigh the costs of manufacturing in America against importing from overseas. But today, the short-term lower pricing that tempted some companies to source their parts from overseas is outmatched by growing supply-chain complications. There is simply no substitute for the high quality and reliable delivery that our member companies can offer. You cannot manufacture a part or finished product if you cannot source your inputs and equipment on time,” said the letter.
Even before this letter went out to America’s OEMs, some molders were already seeing inquiries about manufacturing parts. Craig Porter, owner and CEO of PlastiCert, a custom injection molding and mold-making firm in Lewiston, MN, noted in his weekly letter that, while OEMs sourcing in the Far East are experiencing supply difficulties, PlastiCert has secured its first business win with a new customer badly needing product and now looking domestically.
“The time from initial contact to quote to placing the purchase order was less than 10 days,” said Porter. “We were able to meet face-to-face right away and discuss their situation. They needed to have a replacement mold designed and built, as their current mold was off-shore. PlastiCert having both mold design and build in-house along with injection molding capabilities helped to facilitate their timeline.”
In a statement to PlasticsToday, Porter said, “We’ve always known there were programs there under false pretenses, some as simple as, ‘I read in the WSJ that we should be in China, look into that.’ When upper management says, ‘get into China,’ many don’t question it—they just do it, whether the numbers add up or not.”
Porter said that the company had a conference call with a potential customer the morning I contacted him. “The potential customer said that our tooling prices were just slightly higher, but our piece-part prices were one-third less than the China price,” Porter explained. “This is for parts from a demanding engineered resin that is difficult to process. No decision has been made. If it were up to the team, we would get the purchase order, but factoring in management’s desires, the decision is up for review.”
Porter said his team is working on five other packages that probably should not have been in China in the first place. “The trade issues, the coronavirus, and subsequent shortages have now got them shopping domestically,” he said. He added, somewhat skeptically, “Now that China is resuming production, we fear that the resourcing efforts will fall by the wayside as they all have many fires to fight and this one may have put itself out.”
The open letter to U.S. OEMs concludes: “Throughout history, American manufacturers have answered the call to find solutions, support progress and step up in times of crisis. Our U.S. manufacturers and workers are ready to minimize operational disruptions and help produce quality, reliable products ready to ship to any location, foreign or domestic.”
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