The Inevitable flight “back” to quality…

In the words of the New York Yankee’s immortal, Yogi Berra: “It’s like déjà vu all over again”. These words ring true, yet again in the tool and die world. As the automotive industry rebounds from one of the most tumultuous economic downturns in history; the globalization of platforms, the rush to roll out new, innovative products, and the necessity to stress quality and the dependability of their products have led to a flight “back” to quality tooling. The need to rely on robust engineering, quality tooling to push the limits of performance and longevity, in the most abbreviated timing possible, has resulted in a resurgence, albeit modest, of the domestic supply chain. Despite the fact that many LCC countries are showing marked improvement in the quality of their manufacturing, there is still no substitute for American engineering and the improvement in timing that results from proximity. Sounds somewhat familiar doesn’t it? It appears that the “new” business cycle includes a shift towards LCC tooling only until quality impediments, production requirements, and an economic shift for the better that necessitates the roll out of new vehicle models dictates that the trend revert back to its historical supply base in the U.S. Despite the fact that there is undoubtedly a portion of the supply chain that will probably never again return to the U.S. market, there is an undeniable feeling that there is a trend to utilize U.S. manufacturers for the more complex aspects of the supply chain again. There has been an increase in Rapid Mold Solutions’ business in the “under the hood” component market and from discussions with other suppliers in more complex tooling needs for the industry as well. It would be nice to think that this increase in business is solely attributed to my efforts, however, there certainly seems to be more willingness on behalf of the OEMs and Tier I and II suppliers to discuss domestic tooling options (but of course the constant battle over lowering prices remains…). It remains to be seen if this trend is a true paradigm shift. However, in light of the upheaval the last few years that our industry has weathered, it is an encouraging sign and hopefully an omen of smoother sailing in the next few years.

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