Unfortunately, at the same time as reducing cost, we’ve been losing the battle to retain skills and employment here in the states. It wasn’t always like this—the USA produced excellent weighing equipment for more than a century—products that were copied by many producers overseas!
We’ve all heard the argument for bringing jobs back to the USA, and if you watch the news, you’ve also heard the protectionist view that we should increase duties against products from overseas or even ban imports.
However, there is another way, which preserves free trade while keeping costs down and bringing jobs back within our borders. That is, to once again produce equipment here. Companies like Pennsylvania Scale and Scientech have successfully managed to produce scales here for many years, despite the issues of labor costs and trying to source components locally. Theirs has been a lonely road to travel in the past decade or more, but things might be set to change...
Why does all this make sense? Sharpe says that several market trends have made him review the way that the company does business. “With the advent of AI (artificial intelligence) it will not be long before machines will produce components here within our own facility.” Sharpe continues, “We already see 3-D printers helping to build prototypes. It will not be long before we will be able to produce component parts at an economic level. That situation will enable us to take command of a supply chain that has been lengthened by the move to overseas supply and recently, by the lack of funding available to many overseas manufacturers.”
Sharpe says, “Shortening the supply chain, and at the same time giving us the flexibility to build what we need when our customers need it, is more important than it appears at first pass.
“For instance, consider the UFM-B series bench scale as a simple example. The UFM-B comes in three capacities. If the sales per month are averaging 30 units for each capacity, there needs to be excess inventory available for those above average months. To be safe, we actually need to have 45 units of each (totaling 135 sensors) in stock at all times. But if the factory can make only what it needs, when it’s needed for active orders that number can come down; perhaps to only a quantity of 90 units in stock, with 135 sensors. The correct models can then be assembled to allow sales of up to 45 units of each capacity, but the total inventory has been lowered by 45 units, with enough components inventory to safely meet customers’ requirements. Multiply that through the Intelligent Weighing Technology catalog and you can begin to see what this means.
The manufacturing of the SKDs being done by Intelligent Weighing Technology is having a positive effect on the local community, too. The company has already employed two extra staff to start the assembly line, with more to come.
According to Sharpe, “The skills of the workforce can be leveraged against the charges you make for the services you supply. Skilled workers deliver a greater return to their company than unskilled ones. Their extra cost will be taken care of as the whole operation becomes more efficient and the inventory can be reduced.”
Continuing the process, Sharpe has some ideas to start manufacturing his own designs in the near future. This will bring back CAD design skills, software/firmware design, production control and will support local industry.
He’s not content with the status quo—as international situations can change quickly. Friends can become enemies, tariffs and charges can change, and everything can quickly turn upside down.
Having traveled the world for many years, the USA (which is now firmly his home) is the fifth country in which Sharpe has lived and one of 49 that he has visited. He firmly understands who our friends are, and who does not have the health and wellbeing of North America at heart! Strategically he feels that if, even in a small way, he can help to increase the strength of our manufacturing base, this will be a help towards building a more stable economy. But to allow the continued reliance on other countries manufacturing prowess is a dangerous path that we must avoid at all costs.
Watch this space as the company continues to expand its operation with skilled USA workers!