A few years ago, reshoring roared onto the scene as the next great movement in manufacturing, timed with the sector’s well-publicized role with helping the US crawl out of the deep recession. The manufacturing renaissance was hot in the news and among politicians trumpeting jobs. But now it seems some stark realities have hit.
After much-heralded calls by major US brands to bring offshored manufacturing back home during reshoring’s initial halcyon days, announcements have been less frequent — though at press time, the Reshoring Initiative announced a new accelerative program in partnership with Walmart’s ten-year pledge to buy $250 billion in US manufactured goods by 2023. Reshoring is still happening, for sure, but at the same time stories of companies’ difficulties in returning their manufacturing to US soil have surfaced in the business press.
Perhaps having backed off from the overly aggressive offshoring pace of the 1990s and 2000s and hearing about how China’s labor wages have skyrocketed have given us an overly confident picture of reshoring, because at best, it has had minimal impact on US manufacturing growth based on the numbers so far.
Harry Moser, a former machine tool industry executive and founder of the Reshoring Initiative, has undoubtedly educated many on total cost of ownership analysis, highlighting the hidden costs of outsourcing, but he also has remarked about reshoring’s challenges at many manufacturing and business forums. Near the top of the list is the not-so-simple reconfiguring of massive supply chains, networks, and infrastructure for both materiel and people. For its part, the Reshoring Initiative has ongoing efforts to help companies with US supply efforts, which are now coordinated with Walmart’s own guidance on US manufacturing resources.
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