David Simchi-Levi, LGO faculty co-director and professor of civil and environmental engineering and engineering systems
Keynote speaker at MIT LGO conference on "The Future of Manufacturing in the U.S." (May 8, 2012)
A growing number of U.S. executives are repatriating their manufacturing capabilities—moving some production operations back from overseas. One such company is Ford, which in August 2010 announced plans to bring back about 2,200 parts-production jobs. Another example is Caterpillar, which is investing $120 million in a new Victoria, TX, plant to make excavator machines—devices formerly made at a Caterpillar plant in Japan.
Washington policy makers strongly support these moves: inside the Beltway there is unanimous agreement that the United States should push for growth in the manufacturing sector. But if corporate and political policy makers are increasingly focused on American manufacturing, why has this sector lost six million jobs since 1997? Are we truly entering a new era, or are the above examples rare exceptions to a largely irreversible trend? The signals are mixed at best! The objective of this presentation is to help answer these questions by identifying the most influential drivers of manufacturing growth.