Is it me or are there more stories lately about companies that are finding ways to compete globally from North America? Companies that realize lean manufacturing methods and a focus on reducing internal waste can more than offset supposed competitive burdens? Perhaps it’s just a drop in the bucket, but I’d like to dream that the tide is turning.
Today we hear the story of CMP Advanced Mechanical Solutions, a manufacturer of enclosures for electronic products. They are investing in and adding 50 jobs at a plant in upstate New York. They have the same "competitiveness burdens" as any other company, probably more since they operate in New York state.
CMP’s challenges are similar to what any manufacturer in the industry faces, including finding customers, attracting them, sustaining business and boosting profit, [VP Operations Maynard]Wiff said. Like Universal, CMP also must manage the high cost of doing business in New York, as high electricity costs and taxes eat into earnings, he said.
But this company knows the power and magic of lean.
CMP, which opened its first U.S. manufacturing operation just north of Raleigh, N.C., in 2005, said it plans to expand further in North America, adding more customers and securing more orders as it continues to focus on the principles of lean manufacturing to increase competitiveness and responsiveness as well as cut lead times to mere days versus some competitors’ months of lag.
Increased responsiveness and reduced lead times, creating value from the perception of the customer.
"What’s lean about throwing product on a boat and having it delivered here?" Wiff asked. "It’s more lean to do it here." Wiff noted that to "survive in North America you have to rely on small lots," offering certain types of products in high mix and low volume. "There’s a lot you can offer with fast response time, small lots, short lead times and the ability to manage a high amount of change — engineering changes, scheduling changes," Wiff said. "The folks overseas just can’t do that. Even if they accomplish a lot of the management aspects of that you’ve still got 8,000 miles of distance.
"The North American market is still growing. That’s our focus. That’s the reason we are in Binghamton," [CMP President Ralph] Sandle said. "You can compete with China. You can compete with Mexico. We’re doing it. We’re doing it successfully. … North American manufacturing is where it’s at."
NAM and TMTA are you listening? While you’re whining and complaining, companies are in North American are succeeding by focusing on creating real competitive advantage and customer value through lean manufacturing.
Here’s a big hat’s off to Ralph Sandle, Maynard Wiff, and the entire CMP team for understanding what real lean is about, having the smarts to not be an outsourcing lemming, and creating real value for their customers.