Collaborative Robots Are Starting to Make Offshoring Less Attractive

Automation is proving to be an important link between large companies and their localization strategies. It enables not only localization in manufacturing, but innovation – and at lower costs and higher efficiency.

The advances in collaborative robotics are having a positive impact on local manufacturing and services, and both sustaining and creating jobs. In developed economies, they have even sparked a trend toward the return of jobs from overseas, or “botsourcing.” The more processes that can be automated, the less it makes sense to outsource activities to countries where labor is less expensive.

The growth of the skills gap makes it hard to retain a reliable human workforce. High employee turnover can also significantly impact the quality of your manufacture products negatively. This is because it is hard to maintain the same standards when workers keep changing. Collaborative robots in local manufacturing companies can help to get rid of this problem. When you program collaborative robots to work in your plant, you are guaranteed accuracy, which controls the quality of the manufactured products. Quality control is also difficult when manufacturing is outsourced from other countries. Most consumers believe that locally manufacturing products are of better quality.

There are other numerous benefits to manufacturing in the US vs. overseas including:

  • Choosing U.S.-based manufacturing means creating jobs here at home for Americans. According Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute study, every manufacturing position creates 2.5 jobs in local goods and services, and for every dollar of value created in manufacturing, another $1.37 is created in additional value in other sectors.
  • Regarding traceability, counterfeit, or tainted products, there could be a risk to consumer health and your business’s reputation. Moving those products closer to home can help to eliminate these risks, as you can more closely monitor what is happening in the facilities you use and the quality of product emerging.
  • Consumers are wary of products manufactured in countries with minimal regulations when it comes to protecting the environment.
  • Domestic manufacturers can easily accommodate smaller production runs; while offshore sources may also be willing and/or able to produce lower quantities of your parts or products, the shipping costs can be prohibitive.
  • Choosing to manufacture at home can set your company positively apart, and the Made in America stamp can be a valuable marketing tool for positive public relations. Generally speaking, U.S. manufacturers have higher and better-enforced labor standards to protect the well-being of workers.
  • Provided your product is intended for the domestic market, you won’t incur the hefty transport costs and customs fees that come with having your product shipped to the U.S. from overseas. You can also become a victim of tax and tariff increases, which affects your bottom line by increasing the cost of production. When you manufacture locally, you avoid import taxes and other extra fees involved in getting your product from overseas.
  • Shorter lead time is also a surefire way to increase customer satisfaction. Living in the digital age, customers have come to expect products to arrive within very short time frames. Amazon can attest to that more than any other company.
  • Local production allows you to have better working capital and less inventory, which is one of the core types of waste discussed in the book Lean Robotics.

Another consideration is how millennials view manufacturing and what that could mean for the future of manufacturing locally. According to an article in Wired Magazine, a staffer at Nike discussed how millennials on their staff felt about manufacturing decisions.

“We were working together to develop a new connected device for the home and we’d reached the point of discussing manufacturing options. Rather than scrutinizing a list of Asian manufacturers for the cheapest acceptable option, we spent most of our time talking about local manufacturers, and issues of environmental impact and social responsibility. For these entrepreneurs, sticking to their principles wasn’t even a question. It was part of business.”

Automating your factory or machine shop with collaborative robots can allow you to move your production locally, and you will gain all the benefits that come along. If you are ready to automate, contact us at Cobotics@fusionOEM.com to learn more and set up a consultation.

Sources:

Harvard Business Review: Robots Are Starting to Make Offshoring Less Attractive by Colin Lewis

Robotiq: 15 Advantages to Producing Locally with Collaborative Robots by Alex Owen-Hill

Wired Magazine: Millennials Changing Product Development by Mathieu Turpault

Pulse Headlines: Collaborative Robots and Local Manufacturing by Pablo Luna

WeForum.Org: Localized Microfactories – The New Face of Globalized Manufacturing by Amar Hanspal