Outsourcing truths resound

I just read the “In the Loop: The truth about outsourcing” in the May 2005 edition of Motion System Design.

I must comment on the outsourcing we do in my company. I am a Mechanical/Manufacturing Engineer for a steel fabrication company. We provide ground support equipment for airports around the world.

Like most U.S.-based companies, we have been outsourcing components. Up until recently, the outsourcing has been to vendors in the U.S. In the past three years or so, our CEOs and other “bean-counters” have given an edict to outsource to China, India, and Thailand — basically the Pac-Rim.

This may have been “worthwhile” if the right people were involved. The so-called gurus arbitrarily sent what they determined to be high-cost parts to China and India. All well and good if they had the technology and materials to produce the quality required. These “critical-components” are not only feature-critical, the materials in China and India are inferior.

I cannot over-state the seriousness of these decisions in product liability. Not only are the parts non-functional without reworking, the materials they are made from do not meet AISC design requirements for stress.

When we, the engineering group, take issue with these problems we are basically told that “we are not team players” and we need to design around inferior materials and craftsmanship. They [CEO, accounting] have even tried to outsource the engineering on one project in an attempt to avoid “real-engineering” costs. This project and the contract they hoped to get failed. I know. I was the one they sent to “fix-the-problem” they had created. The normal throughput time for a product of this type is about 14 days in our facility in Utah. It took 8 months to do this in Thailand. This project still sits non-functional, at the site in Thailand — today a monument to the non-engineering “executive guru's” quest for a “fast-buck.” To make a long story short: It doesn't matter how much you polish a mud fence — it is still a mud fence.

Manufacturing in the United States is in serious trouble if the CEOs and bean-counters think they are the engineers. At least 99.9% of the time, cheap labor buys poor quality, worse engineering, and dangerous products — and if you're not at the site 24/7, failure is guaranteed.

To you, for better Engineering and Manufacturing,
Terry Rasmussen
Sr. Manufacturing Engineer
FMC-Airport Systems, Jetway

A logical explanation

My name is Angelo from Tower Isles Frozen Foods. Congrats on the article for explaining what a chip's bit is in reality. Also thanks for the brush-up in logic — a lesson severely needed in high school and college. I really never understood what the significance of logic was until I had read your article, “Bit by Bit.” I wish the professors in Edison High School here in New York City would have put the “and,” “or,” and “not” into context as you did. It would have made it much easier to understand what it sums up to be. Will there be any follow-up articles in this area or was this a one-shot deal? Keep up the exquisitely fine work because you tell it as it is and by mostly using laymen's terms. Thanks again, looking forward to reading more articles in your Brushing Up section involving further explanation of logic and electronics.
Angelo Pecoraro
Assistant Plant Engineer
Tower Isles Frozen Foods Ltd.

What do we know?

Great article called “Getting to know you.” It just shows America the kind of people we are dealing with.
Don Bartz, Engineering Designer,
Kusel Equipment Co.
Watertown, Wis.


We all need to keep that in mind as we go about the unpleasant business of eradicating this enemy. — Ed.