The ASSEMBLY Blog is written by our team of editors and industry experts. It provides thought-provoking opinions on issues and trends in manufacturing, as wells tips, tricks and suggestions for implementing assembly technology.
The other day, a flying car called the Transition made a successful test flight in New York. The two-seat vehicle transforms itself from a plane to a car in less than 30 seconds. It can drive on highway speeds on the road and fits in a standard household garage.
A decade after General Motors outsourced its parts-making operations in a widely publicized move, the company has just quietly acquired its old steering division. Is this part of an ongoing trend among large manufacturers?
It appears that General Motors plans to pull the plug on its Saturn division. If so, the 18-year-old brand will join other nameplates that you now only find in museums or classic car shows. But, Saturn will always be associated with assembly line innovation.
Domestically imposed costs, such as health care insurance and litigation, harm American manufacturers more than offshore competition from China and other low-cost countries. But, other factors also affect the ability of our assembly lines to compete in today's global market.
Watching astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon captured my imagination in a way that no toy, television show or movie ever could. I wonder how many children in India will be similarly inspired by the success of that country’s first lunar mission?
These days, it seems that just about everyone is trying to get in on all the federal handouts and economic stimulus incentives that are being kicked around the marble halls of Washington, DC. How about an “Accelerated Retirement of Inefficient Assembly Lines Act”? It would allow American manufacturers to receive some type of monetary (or tax) incentive for scrapping old conveyors, fixtures, parts feeders, robots, screwdrivers, workstations and other production equipment.
Two previous U.S. presidents had the courage, vision and foresight to change the transportation landscape, and transform the economic climate, by spearheading mega-construction projects: the transcontinental railroad (Abraham Lincoln) and the interstate highway system (Dwight Eisenhower). The new Obama administration can make history by creating a world-class high-speed rail network in the United States.
The manufacturing world is in the midst of its worst downturn in 75 years, with companies are trying all sorts of strategies to cut costs and prop up revenues. However, manufacturers can achieve major cost savings beyond the traditional budget cuts and salary freezes . . . if they rethink and redesign their global manufacturing operations for optimal performance.