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Could Tech Manufacturing Return To The United States?

Labor costs are one of the primary factors in attracting manufacturing companies to a particular region. For years, China has enjoyed substantial manufacturing prosperity as a direct result of low labor costs and high demand for tech products from across the globe.

But now the resulting growth has also contributed to labor unrest, and that means China may not be quite the prospective manufacturing location that it’s been, especially as more companies are looking for reliable, high output, low cost production of all manner of consumer electronics and other tech products.

This has lead many to wonder which nation could potentially take China’s place. Could it be the U.S.?

techmanufacturingImage Source: The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Remains Prospective
According to findings from the Boston Consulting Group, more than half of the surveyed manufacturing executives were considering reshoring their production facilities back to the U.S. in 2014. While many low cost manufacturers have already left China, they’ve been more likely to relocate to the Middle East and Africa.

Considering how labor makes up a greater percentage of costs for manufacturers in the apparel industry and other low capital producers, China’s rising wages have served as a loud call to move to still-lower labor cost countries. Bangladesh and Laos have recently given China considerable competition in such cases.

A Mixed Blessing For The Eastern Hub
When it comes to tech products, however, China’s electricity infrastructure—which has increased in both reliability and cost—how shown to be a mixed blessing for the global hub. While dependable power is an essential when it comes to the manufacture of various electronic goods, high costs for tapping it won’t attract or keep many producers.

It’s also been observed that tech manufacturers will be more likely to prioritize diversification of resources and tighter supply chains than low cost labor.

China FactoryImage Source: Wikimeida

Who Will Recapture Tech Manufacturing?
With a renewing consumer market, low power costs, skilled work force, and steady wage rates, the U.S. may give China a run for it’s manufacturing money. However, there is stiff and growing competition from Mexico and South America, where Western manufacturing hubs are increasingly starting to emerge.

Will they take they become the future home of the valuable tech market? It’s important not to discount China just yet, as reshoring or relocating can be a challenging and costly process. Additionally, China’s growing middle class and subsequent consumer spending may give some manufacturers a reason to remain close to their new market.

What are your thoughts on China’s slipping manufacturing status? Despite the less than favorable factors for attracting and retaining manufacturers, do you think they will hold on to their global manufacturing lead for long? Will reshoring continue to make a difference for the U.S.? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Autonomous Mobile Robots Unleash Greater Efficiency In Smart Factories

Autonomous mobile robots or AMRs increase production line flexibility by moving materials between robotic work stations. Instead of adjusting and rebuilding whole production lines to accommodate different products or materials, manufacturers need only reprogram AMRs integrated with robotic smart factories. AMRs can supply materials to production lines and move products off main lines into specialized assembly stations to achieve different outcomes. This versatility decreases factory downtime by eliminating a lengthy retooling of an entire production system.

Affordability Driving More Robot Adoption

The automotive industry has long been a leader in robotic factories due to automakers’ deep pockets. Financial barriers to entry for other industries have eased in recent years. The expense of adding new robots has gone down, but robot capabilities continue to rise.

Vector 3D HD omnidirectional autonomous mobile robot docking to EnZone wireless charging station. Credit: PattyK33

The packaging industry has noticed the ROI potential of AMRs. Packaging operations have always involved highly automated systems, and AMRs represent a natural next step. They offer an affordable way to increase packaging output and expand product packaging capabilities. Packaging industry experts expect reprogrammable AMRs to give packagers a competitive edge. Facilities with integrated AMRs could switch between products quickly and avoid costly adjustments to a whole production line.

Safety Improvements On Top Of Efficiency Gains

Supply chain specialist K. Hartwall has introduced an AMR called A-Mate. It is a robust AMR capable of moving loads up to 1,000 kg in tight spaces. The K. Hartwall CEO said that the A-Mate was designed with safety in mind. It can lift heavy loads up to one meter without supportive scissor lifts. Programmable movements allow it to mesh predictably with other automated production equipment and reduce human interactions with heavy machinery.

OTTO 1500 self-driving vehicle (SDV) for heavy-load material transport in warehouses, distribution centers and factories. Credit: M P Hennessey

Has the facility where you work added AMRs to the system? Comment about your experience or suggest how an AMR could improve your operation.

ABOUT K. Hartwall

Logistics is entering a transformative phase in which the speed of innovation will increase and handling volumes will grow exponentially.

Key industry trends such as robotics and automation, prediction enabled through IoT and data analytics and increased demand for sustainable solutions will shape the way forward for logistics in all industries.

At K.Hartwall we strive to create future-fit logistics solutions that answer the needs of our customers and bolsters their industry development. Over the years, we have become specialized in smart logistics solutions for the retail, post and parcel and automotive industries.

K.Hartwall is the driving force in logistics.

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New mRNA Technology to Remake Vaccine Research and Production

Messenger RNA, or mRNA, is the central technology behind the rapid creation of the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines. Known as cell-based vaccine technology, mRNA mimics the way cells generate proteins that activate immune responses. The process provides advantages over old vaccine production methods that relied on culturing viruses within eggs. Cell-based technology allows for increased vaccine efficacy and makes it possible for manufacturing facilities to produce multiple vaccine products at the same time.

Marriage of Biology and Computation Power

The scientific discipline of bioinformatics sequences DNA, which produces RNA messengers to carry out its functions. Modern advances in computational power speed this process and help researchers learn how to manipulate the immune response. As a result, scientists increasingly have the means of controlling dangerous viruses, like coronavirus and Ebola. In terms of vaccine production, the new method increases vaccine yields, purity, and potency.

The breakthroughs resulting from bioinformatics and mRNA will require a new generation of production equipment, including bioreactors and fermenters. Demand for such vaccines will be high around the world due to the devastation and economic disruption caused by outbreaks and pandemics.

Vast Potential Beyond Coronavirus

The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 has focused the global research and pharmaceutical industries on vaccine development and production. Science could bring many viruses under control, such as Zika, Epstein-Barr, or Lassa. The massive global efforts that delivered a coronavirus vaccine in under a year will also be called upon as new viruses emerge. Variations of influenza could threaten human populations at any time.

Higher Demand for Refrigeration Equipment

At this point, mRNA vaccines must be stored and transported at extremely low temperatures. The Pfizer vaccine must be kept at -70 Celsius, and the Moderna vaccine needs a temperature of -20 Celsius. Pfizer already maintains massive freezer farms for holding vaccines.

As the global population continues to cope with coronavirus and future threats, refrigeration manufacturers could experience greater demand for their products. Let us know if your industry expects additional business due to the ballooning growth of vaccine production.

ABOUT Pfizer

We help protect as many people as possible from life-threatening illness with quality vaccines that make an impact across all stages of life by combining unrelenting passion, global impact, and an enduring quest for progress to unlock the promise and value that vaccines hold for our world.

Our passion for science, for delivering excellence, and for people’s health drive bold advancements in Research and Design (R&D) and high-quality manufacturing to consistently make a meaningful impact on public health. Passion drives our organization and permeates everything we do.

From our research scientists to our business operations teams, Pfizer Vaccines is comprised of passionate, world-class employees who work every day to translate cutting-edge science into next-generation vaccines that improve people’s lives.

ABOUT Moderna

Every cell in the body uses mRNA to provide real-time instructions to make the proteins necessary to drive all aspects of biology, including in human health and disease.

Given its essential role, we believe mRNA could be used to create a new category of medicines with significant potential to improve the lives of patients.

We are pioneering a new class of medicines made of messenger RNA, or mRNA. The potential implications of using mRNA as a drug are significant and far-reaching and could meaningfully improve how medicines are discovered, developed, and manufactured.

Since our founding in 2010, we have worked to build the industry’s leading mRNA technology platform, the infrastructure to accelerate drug discovery and early development, a rapidly expanding pipeline, and a world-class team.

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GM Announces Plans To Launch Self-Driving Taxis As Early As 2019

General Motors (GM) has announced ambitious plans for a 2019 commercial launch of autonomous taxis, which the company aims to release in multiple cities. Described as a direct challenge to other autonomous vehicle tech ventures, including Alphabet Inc’s Waymo and Uber Technologies, the move represents a large step forward for prevalence of self-driving vehicles in everyday life.

FileCruise Automation Bolt EV third generation in San Franciscojpg

Image Source: Wikimedia

Autonomous Taxis In A Matter Of Months

With the success of the electric Chevrolet Bolt, its acquisition of Cruise Automation last year, and its $500 million investment in ride-sharing company Lyft also in 2016, GM’s move into the autonomous ride-hauling service race isn’t much of a surprise, but their claim that they can make this roll-out a reality in such a short time has turned a lot of heads. “If we continue on our current rate of change we will be ready to deploy this technology, in a large scale, in the most complex environments, in 2019,” GM President Dan Ammann said.

A Goal For Safe, Low-Cost Transportation

Ammann also stated that safety would be the deciding factor on when driverless taxis ultimately hit city streets. GM did not name specific locations for their launch but for “dense urban environments”. They have also stressed the economic benefits for riders. GM’s CFO Chuck Stevens has said that with the launch of their autonomous taxis, “We have a path to take 40 percent of the cost out of ride services,” taking charges to less than $1 per mile by 2025 compared to roughly $2.50 per mile today according to a Reuters’ report.

Image Source: The Detroit News

Who Will Win The Self-Driving Race?

While GM has the right umbrella of capabilities to make this type of autonomous launch a reality in less than two years, Uber, Waymo, and other companies are closing in on the race to get autonomous taxis deployed in major cities and adjacent suburbs. Whatever company will be most successful with their brand is not yet clear, but one thing appears sure: public access to autonomous vehicles is just around the corner.


What are your thoughts on GM’s plans? Comment and tell us what you think of this story.

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